Watching the media response to President Trump’s handling of the pandemic has been an educational experience for anyone who has been paying attention. It seems no matter what actions the President takes or what comments and opinions he offers, somebody at the major cable networks and newspapers is standing by to jump all over him. Unfortunately, on several notable occasions, Trump has turned out to be right. And then comes the embarrassing moment when the media talking heads have to reluctantly deliver the same news.
One key example of this phenomenon popped up a few weeks ago when the President offered an opinion about the mortality rate for the novel coronavirus. At that time, Dr. Anthony Fauci was estimating it to be “around two percent.” Some other medical authorities had put the figure as high as 2.6%. Trump declared that he thought it was going to be considerably lower, “way lower than one percent,” specifying that this was just “a hunch” that he had.
That was all it took. The press was all over him. He was “misleading” the nation. He was “contradicting the medical community.” Trump was “at odds with what health experts are saying.” But yesterday, CNN found themselves describing the mortality rate for the virus in new terms. Oops.
How many people die after being infected with the novel coronavirus? Fewer than previously calculated, according to a study released Monday, but still more than die from the flu.
The research, published in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases, estimated that about 0.66% of those infected with the virus will die.
That coronavirus death rate, which is lower than earlier estimates, takes into account potentially milder cases that often go undiagnosed — but it’s still far higher than the 0.1% of people who are killed by the flu.
So that’s at least one bright spot of good news amidst an otherwise grim forecast for the virus. The linked report is a rather lengthy article with plenty of good information in it, including quotes from multiple medical authorities. It also includes a brief reference to the fact that the projected death rate is “lower than earlier estimates.” But do you know who isn’t quoted in that article? President Donald J. Trump. In fact, his name is never even mentioned. And, of course, there is no reference whatsoever to the CNN personalities who were excoriating the President when his “hunch” told him that it would wind up being “considerably lower” than the previous estimates and “way lower than one percent. 0.66% sure sounds “considerably lower” than 2.6% to me. In fact, it’s basically just a quarter of the old estimate. And it’s barely more than half of one percent.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane here and remember what some of the more high-profile talking heads on CNN had to say back then. Here’s Jim Sciutto on March 4th.
Trump has misled before. He has not until now done so during a health crisis. Will federal institutions, such as CDC, Congress & friendly media challenge him? Or will roughly half the country take his word over the facts and experts? https://t.co/c7Z29o4jHn
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) March 5, 2020
“Trump has misled before. He has not until now done so during a health crisis. Will federal institutions, such as CDC, Congress & friendly media challenge him? Or will roughly half the country take his word over the facts and experts?”
“Here’s what Chris Cillizza had to offer the following day on March 5th.
“No big deal — just the President of the United States contradicting the medical community on the mortality rate of coronavirus. What’s he basing his conclusions on? Oh, a ‘hunch.’”
And this was Brian Stelter’s contribution to the conversation also on March 5th.
“I hesitate to even print the United States president’s words here, because they’re so at odds with what health experts are saying. But the president’s statements to Sean Hannity are significant because millions of people were watching live.”
So will we hear anything from these three and all the others who were setting their hair on fire over Trump’s “hunch” at the beginning of the month? I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen. The accusations of Trump “misleading” the public went out in real-time and then dropped down the memory hole as part of the history of this pandemic and the White House response to it. Welcome to our new media in the 21st century.