Let me be upfront with you — I suspect we may see a viral rebound in the United States that pushes some to aggressively go back into a lockdown. I don’t know that the United States will. But I also think so much media rage reporting has happened about Trump and the virus that the media has largely failed to note just how similar other countries have performed to the United States. That suggests it is not Trump, but the virus. Unfortunately, the media is permanently in Blame Trump mode. Certainly, there are legitimate criticisms. Silly me just thinks when the entire planetary governmental systems behave similarly that it is not the President, but some external factor like a microscopic entity. Likewise, other countries are seeing viral rebounds and contemplating new lockdowns so I expect that here too.
While I say all of that, I think a few other things need to be said.
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If you have followed along here, you know I have treated this virus seriously since day one. In fact, starting in January I was telling my radio listeners they should start stocking up on frozen and non-perishable food items and paper products. I could see this coming and have gotten criticism from the right for pushing back on the assorted conspiracy mongers and sudden civil libertarians who have determined this is all just a bad flu, the data is overstated, the health care experts are lying, etc.
Through it all, much of the media has also pushed back on the rightwing attempts to downplay the virus. It has been an interesting phenomenon to watch many of the President’s supporters who are so beta they can’t attack the President directly and instead cast aspersions on Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, and others the President listens too. They won’t go after their guy, so they attack the career public servants he has chosen to listen to, all the while knowing the real issue is their guy listening to those experts.
You may not like the advice of the expert chosen to be an expert on health because he is not an expert on economic reopening, but the real issue is with the leader of the free world listening to that guy instead of the economics expert. And you know that even if you won’t admit it.
So I’ve been calling all this nonsense out. I think we have to try to be intellectually honest and treat the facts as facts, not conspiracy. We need to try to recognize the data may be wrong at times but is not willfully wrong or distorted. I can give you all the facts and data, I just can’t make you believe them.
But there’s something new happening.
As we transition from a closed down country to a reopened country, the data truthers have left the right and moved to the left. It is no longer Trump supporters claiming the data is wrong. It is progressive anti-Trump voters who fear not a viral spread, but an economic recovery that might get Trump re-elected.
Consider this story from Florida. The media has blasted Governor Ron De Santis for months for his handling of the virus. He has gotten ten times as much criticism as Andrew Cuomo even as New York has seen around ten times as many cases and deaths as Florida, a state more populous than New York.
The person who helped chart out Florida’s data has been reassigned away from that position after problems with the data website causes data errors, etc. “Experts” now fear the Florida data is going to lie. The Florida Today website does an entire story on how experts fear Florida will start lying about its data, and, buried in the story, contains this nugget:
Data access has not worsened further, yet, but researchers are sounding the alarm in response to Jones' email.
So Florida reassigns a person who built a website to display data after the data started screwing up and the “experts” are afraid it means the data will get even worse, though there is no evidence of that.
The same thing is happening in Georgia. Over the weekend, Georgia saw a spike in COVID-19 cases that later went away. The left is screaming conspiracy. But it turns out a number of antibody test results of previously ill people were added to the total positive test count in error. Georgia’s Governor has moved a person from his office to the Department of Public Health to oversee day to day management so the head of the department can focus on the virus. That too has met with conspiracy theorizing on the left nationally while here in Georgia everyone knows this is make sure Dr. Kathleen Toomey doesn’t have to worry about database servers while worrying about a virus.
In Texas, the state saw a massive spike in new cases, but it was related to a giant increase in testing. The spike was explainable and containable, but the left chose to attack Governor Abbott and Texas for reopening the state despite the virus running out of control. The evidence did not actually support that.
Unlike with Trump supporters lying about the data, much of the media is either not pushing back against progressive data truthers or have joined in on the lying. A vocal number of conservatives pushed back on right-wing agitators misrepresenting data and lying to undermine claims coming from the White House about the spread and extent of the virus.
But now, as the virus really is receding and states are reopening, the media is still in lockdown mode and unwilling to push back against leftwing conspiracy theorists who are now exaggerating the data and claiming states are lying to reopen. The media is not really serving as an honest broker, so much as an amplifier of leftwing talking points not supported by current data.
Part of this is, to be fair, because the media is so anchored in New York and the press’s view of the virus is shaped by that coupled with a hatred of President Trump that forces them to ignore Andrew Cuomo’s incompetence and body count.
Part of it is also because there are plenty of pundits, analysts, and others who understand a rebounding economy could help President Trump.
Part of it is worrying about a viral rebound. I get that. It is a pattern in other countries. But it has not yet happened here and data has been on the side of southern governors choosing to reopen.
The media’s credibility is at an all-time low and the media is less self-reflective than at any time I can recall. The willingness to push back against right-wing data fabulists and the unwillingness to do the same on the left is only going to further compound that.
Southern states are not rigging the data to justify reopening. The data just happens to support it right now so they are reopening. Waiting for bodies to pile up for “I told you so” moments and writing pieces dripping with disdain for people daring to go out further undermines press credibility.