NewsBusters

NY Times: Those Trump Virus Briefings We Wanted Could Be Dangerous Television

The New York Times is using the coronavirus pandemic to condemn its favorite targets, Fox News and Donald Trump, even suggesting the networks shouldn’t air Trump’s coronavirus press briefings. Media reporter Michael Grynbaum fretted in Thursday’s paper, “Trump’s Briefings Are a Ratings Hit. Should Networks Cover Them Live?

Pathetic! After media complaints about Trump’s lack of briefings, now the Times is suggesting they shouldn’t be aired. (Surely the media’s turnabout has nothing to do with the improvement in the president’s poll numbers?)

President Trump is a ratings hit, and some journalists and public health experts say that could be a dangerous thing.

….

….the audience is expanding even as Mr. Trump has repeatedly delivered information that doctors and public health officials have called ill informed, misleading or downright wrong.

….He has also encouraged the use of medications that have yet to be proved effective against the virus; on Monday, a man in Arizona died after he and his wife consumed a form of chloroquine, a drug that Mr. Trump has promoted on the air.

A “form of chloroquine”? The couple ingested fish tank cleaner. The death can hardly be laid at Trump’s feet.

One of Grynbaum’s objective sources calling to restrict Trump briefing coverage? MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

The emergence of the pandemic has raised the stakes for what had existed mostly as an insular discussion among media ethicists. Now, the president’s critics say, lives are at risk.

“I would stop putting those briefings on live TV — not out of spite, but because it’s misinformation,” the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow declared to her viewers last week.

Grynbaum implied Trump invented conservative disdain for the media.

Americans’ trust in the news media is also split along partisan lines. The CBS News poll said 13 percent of Republicans trusted the news media for information about the virus, versus 72 percent of Democrats.

Mr. Trump’s hostility toward the independent press has done much to deepen that divide….

Also, Times media columnist Ben Smith assailed Fox News hosts for their dismissive early takes and condescended to Fox’s “elderly, pro-Trump viewers.” (Note: MSNBC viewers are just as “elderly.”)

Smith wrote in “As Fox News Discounted Virus, Its Chief Was Protected“:

Many of the networks’ elderly, pro-Trump viewers responded to the coverage and the president’s public statements by taking the virus less seriously than, a week later, everyone else had. Public health experts have said that some of them may die as a result, as I reported this week.

But one elderly Fox News viewer, a crucial supporter of President Trump, took the threat seriously: The channel’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch…

The day before, Smith had written:

Hosts and guests, speaking to Fox’s predominantly elderly audience, repeatedly played down the threat of what would soon become a deadly pandemic.

Smith has not written about the missteps made by other outlets, including the Times, which also initially downplayed concern over the coronavirus, comparing it to the flu or warning about anti-Asian racism.

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