The New York Times’ crusade to use the coronavirus to cripple its ideological enemies continued on Thursday’s front page with reporter Jeremy Peters’ over-excited hit piece “Pro-Trump Media’s Virus Pivot: From Alarm to Denial to Blame.” The print version was obnoxiously datelined “Right-Wing Influencers,” perhaps an artifact from an overstressed copy editor.
Peters first went after conservative commentator Candace Owens, then documented his obsession with Fox News.
A review of hundreds of hours of programming and social media traffic from Jan. 1 through mid-March -- when the White House started urging people to stay home and limit their exposure to others -- shows that doubt, cynicism and misinformation about the virus took root among many of Mr. Trump’s boosters in the right-wing media as the number of confirmed cases in the United States grew.
Now, with the nation’s economic and physical health in clear peril, Mr. Trump and many of his allies on the airwaves and online are blaming familiar enemies in the Democratic Party and the news media.
Peters glimpsed a conspiracy.
The pervasiveness of the denial among many of Mr. Trump’s followers from early in the outbreak, and their sharp pivot to finding fault with an old foe once the crisis deepened, is a pattern that one expert in the spread of misinformation said resembled a textbook propaganda campaign.
Even when Fox News was ahead of things, like host Carlson’s early warnings, and the network’s focus on China’s deceit, Peters found fault with blaming China.
Step 1: Blame China
Starting in late January, Tucker Carlson’s prime-time Fox News show became an early outlier in conservative media, sounding the alarm about a “mysterious” sickness spreading in Wuhan, China, that had killed about two dozen people.
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. (Carlson demolished Peters’ take on Thursday night.)
Fox News became a launching pad for the idea of halting travel from China, which guests like Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, urged while also at times suggesting that the virus had been created in a Chinese government laboratory not far from the epicenter of the outbreak....
The Washington Post has picked up on the possibility, making Cotton’s warnings look all the more prescient.
Classic bias by omission. The Times has yet to focus on virus-danger denial by left-wing figures like New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, urging New Yorkers to “get out on the town despite coronavirus” in early March, or the Huffington Post’s late January take by Nick Robins-Early, which has aged like rotten eggs: “Don’t Listen To Sen. Tom Cotton About Coronavirus -- The GOP senator has spread misinformation and panic in a weeks-long meltdown over the disease.”
Thursday’s Times also ran chunks of its own blame game from a previous article which bizarrely suggested off-key criticism of Dr. Fauci was endangering citizen’s lives. Now, that same criticism was endangering Fauci’s life. Reporters Katie Benner and Michael Shear teamed up on “Fauci to Get Extra Guards After Increase In Threats.”