Wednesday 27 May 2020

US media is desperate to turn good COVID-19 news into bad

Why is the left in favour of lockdowns? Why?

Some on the right are too, but everyone is on the left. In America the reason is that they want to use lockdowns to help defeat Donald Trump, who never believed in them and wants to end them (it's not in his power though).

Anti-Trump journalists (that is to say, almost all American journalists) convinced themselves that the virus and his chaotic response to it will make Mr. Trump unelectable. The contrary is much more likely. 

The public will remember with gratitude that he originally dismissed the virus as just a flu and later argued for ending lockdowns. In between he was scared by the virus, as everyone was.

Once the American quality papers were trustworthy, factual and very dull. Not any more. An article in the Spectator American edition about the way the American media distorts the virus news like everything else reader makes very funny reading. I quote.

On May 17, the New York Times crushed its competition with the most audacious effort yet to turn good news into bad. ‘NEW CASES IN US SLOW, POSING RISK OF COMPLACENCY,’ read the lead headline in the print edition. Sub headlines further limned the gloomy picture: ‘TRAJECTORY UNCERTAIN,’ ‘Spikes Feared As the Very Steps That Curbed the Virus Are Lifted.’ Do not stop being fearful, in other words. While the virus risk may go down, complacency risk replaces it, leaving us as threatened as before. The only proper posture is to shelter in place permanently.

The body of the Times’s story drove home the dangerous new reality. The nation had reached a ‘perilous moment,’ the paper alleged, since businesses were reopening ‘despite the risk of a resurgence.’ So it is ‘perilous’ when cases rise, and ‘perilous’ when they fall. One of the Times’s preferred epidemiologists, Columbia University’s Jeffrey Shaman, conceded that the decline ‘is something good to see.’ But what we are also seeing, Shaman said, is a ‘lot of places right on the edge of controlling the disease.’ The fact that some jurisdictions are registering sharp case declines while others are registering less or no decline is hardly a reason for fear. Differing points on the curve at any given time are to be expected.

The Times managed to eke out another cause for concern: communities that have succeeded in controlling their cases ‘have little idea how long [that success] will last.’ Ignorance of the future is the condition of all non-omniscient beings. Now, however, uncertainty about the future is a further reason that the reopenings were premature.

It wasn’t until the article was wrapping up that the Times got around to reporting that, oh, by the way, daily deaths are also declining. Deaths are the criterion that people care most about and one that is not influenced by testing rates. For the Times’s reporters, however, that drop is an afterthought.

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