In our polarized times, competing narratives are emerging among many of our most fanatical partisans. Some Pro-Trump Americans steadfastly blame everyone but him, while his committed opposition -- including much of the national press corps -- look for any angle to attack him, while downplaying or dismissing others' culpability and failures. Some of these people seem to be looking at the lethal global pandemic through an electoral prism, which makes them look tone deaf and out of touch. Perhaps they look that way because they are that way. Watching reflexive anti-Trump forces soft pedal historically-damaging Chinese treachery, or even allege that pointing it out is bigoted, has been disturbing. A new permutation on this theme is to rush to the defense of the World Health Organization as the president ratchets up his entirely justified pressure on the organization:
President Trump said he was looking into putting a hold on the U.S. contribution to the @WHO, claiming ‘they've been wrong about a lot of things’ related to the coronavirus and accusing it of being too China-centric pic.twitter.com/whkUDJ743w— Reuters (@Reuters) April 8, 2020
For a review of WHO's failures and complicity, read this National Review editorial from start to finish. An excerpt:
By mid January, Chinese doctors knew that COVID-19 was spreading between humans, but on January 14, the WHO stated that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.” Two weeks later, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus flew to Beijing for a meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping, who so impressed Tedros that he lauded Chinese authorities for “setting a new standard for outbreak control,” praising their “openness for sharing information.”... When the WHO emergency committee discussed whether to declare COVID-19 a public-health emergency on January 23, international observers had definitively discredited Chinese health data. Yet Tedros relied on those data in arguing against declaring an emergency — over the objections of other committee members.
That decision delayed the mobilization of public-health resources around the world. John Mackenzie, a committee member, attributed the delay to “very poor reporting” and “very poor communication” from the CCP. After finally declaring an emergency on January 30, Tedros continued to lavish praise on China. As late as February 20, he argued that Chinese actions were “slowing the spread [of coronavirus] to the rest of the world.” ... The record is clear: The WHO has lent its imprimatur to Chinese disinformation and blessed China’s slow response to its domestic outbreak, which likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases, according to a University of Southampton study.
This infamous tweet is Exhibit A in the case against the WHO and China:
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China????. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
The piece also notes that the WHO's leader -- who won his post with Beijing's 'tireless' help and blessing -- hasn't shied away from criticizing the United States, and President Trump specifically: "Tedros isn’t afraid to take on world leaders as a general matter. When President Trump limited travel from China to the U.S. on January 31 — a decision that bought the U.S. precious time — Tedros said it would 'have the effect of increasing fear and stigma, with little public health benefit.'" He was dead wrong on the travel restrictions, as he's been disastrously wrong about China's actions. In fact, 'wrong' may be the incorrect word here; 'complicit' appears to fit better. Others have also chronicled the outrageous conduct of Tedros and his apparently-compromised organization over recent months. And yet when President Trump announced yesterday that his administration is considering cutting off funding to WHO, many in the media portrayed it as an exercise in crass, reckless scapegoating. One prominent example from a senior New York Times reporter:
Trump has found a new villain for the coronavirus pandemic: the World Health Organization.— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) April 7, 2020
He went on to blame Fox News, a pastime that has become even more of a full-blown, myopic, ideologically-driven media obsession in recent weeks. Many people hit back Baker's sentiment, but this response was pithy and potent:
The purpose of the WHO is presumably to provide accurate and updated information regarding outbreaks, and do everything in their power to prevent a pandemic from occurring.— Alicia Smith (@Alicia_Smith19) April 8, 2020
They failed on both counts, mostly because of their allegiance to the country where outbreak originated https://t.co/auFt1IFzgB
This is also undeniably true, sadly:
The reflexive need to support anyone and anything Trump attacks is exhausting and dangerous. It really feels like some in the media and on the left will side with anyone and anything that Trump views as an opponent.— (((AG))) (@AGHamilton29) April 7, 2020
And it happens every time.
And as I noted on Twitter last night, an addiction to anti-Trump "gotcha" journalism can also lead to errors and unfairness, which in turn undermine public trust in the press. National Public Radio seized on a fleeting misstatement, which was immediately corrected by Trump, to write up a bogus fact-check that actually (if inadvertently) confirmed the accuracy of Trump's message:
He said “a majority,” then corrected himself with, “the biggest portion of their money.” Which is accurate, according to NPR’s own article. I’m only able to flag this unfair ‘gotcha’ because I watched the briefing, happened to recall this moment & looked it up to double check. https://t.co/tMYqmYIaSC pic.twitter.com/lemzdm8nW1— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) April 8, 2020
Trump is firing a shot across the bow of an organization that is tarnishing its reputation and selling out to a nation that provides less of its funding than does the United States. Legitimate and needed. Meanwhile, here's a former high-ranking Associated Press journalist calling for the media to not only stop airing White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefings live (which is deeply unserious and anti-information), but for journalists to stop participating in them altogether. Just ludicrous:
As a former White House reporter, I don’t say this lightly: Media should ignore the Trump follies, abandon the WH briefing room, and interview governors, doctors, nurses, victims and anybody else approaching the truth.— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) April 7, 2020
Stop being props.
"Abandon the briefing room," where the federal government's response team to a global pandemic -- including top medical experts, members of the cabinet, and senior military officials -- give updates on a daily basis. That's derangement, not journalism, no matter how unreliable you believe the president to be. Trump is a liar, they say. We should listen to the experts. I'll leave you with what CNN was up to (with this guy) while preeminent public health expert Dr. Deborah Birx was at the podium yesterday, giving detailed new information and making specific scientific appeals to laboratories about Coronavirus testing:
CNN thinks it's better for Americans to get updates on the coronavirus from Jim Acosta than from Dr. Deborah Birx pic.twitter.com/l5ZEXHZKw7— Kyle Martinsen - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@KyleMartinsen_) April 7, 2020
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