For someone with a long, legendary career in journalism, CNN’s Situation Room host Wolf Blitzer has been no better in the Trump era than fellow Zuckerville citizens Jim Acosta, Chris Cuomo, or Don Lemon, offering partisan takes, snarky chyrons, and, omitting key facts or sides to a story.
We saw that final point on Friday when he spent 17 minutes and 12 seconds interview the NIH’s Dr. Tony Fauci, but never made a point to raise concerns about possible spread of the coronavirus from the massive, nationwide Black Lives Matter protests or the newly-minted country of CHAZ.
Blitzer invited Fauci to denounce the return of Trump rallies and states for reopening, but nothing about the protests in rioting in the 16 times he either made a comment to or asked a question of Fauci. In other words, Blitzer’s bias by omission was no accident.
Blitzer led with the hyperbole, taking note of Fauci calling the pandemic his “worst nightmare” and wondering if the U.S. has “stalled in the fight against the virus.”
After Fauci said he was concerned but wouldn’t use Blitzer’s words, the CNN host followed up: “Utah and Oregon, as you know, Dr. Fauci, are pausing their reopening processes. Should more states, do you think, reconsider the reopening that they're going through right now?”
Fauci continued to choose his words carefully, but Blitzer twice pressed for answers from his coroner, directly lobbying for states to close down (click “expand”):
BLITZER: Which states specifically, Dr. Fauci, do you think need to slow down their opening efforts? What are your biggest areas of concern right now?
FAUCI: Well, you know, Wolf, I mean, I don't want to be saying they have to decrease their — you know, their rate of their opening, but if you look at just the data, which is the thing that drives it all, if you look at what's going on, for example, in California, if you look at what's going on in North Carolina, in Arizona, in Texas, in places like that, you've got to carefully look at what the result is. Remember, I've said, and I'll be consistent with it, that when you do start moving towards opening up, you are going to see blips of infections...[E]veryone recognizes that we do want to push towards opening up. But not at the expense of making things worse.
BLITZER: But do you think, Dr. Fauci, that these states where we're seeing these increases in cases and deaths, at a minimum they should slow down, at least slow down their reopening process?
FAUCI: Yeah, they should do two things. Again, the individual decisions are made by the governors, but looking at what we're seeing, if you start to see things which we're seeing, because they'll say, and appropriately so, that the increase in cases is due both to more testing, identifying cases that you might not have gotten, but also a real increase....when you start seeing more hospitalizations....When you see more percentage of the tests that are positive and more hospitalizations, that's something that should get you to pause and say, wait a minute, let's rethink....maybe we need to slow down a little, maybe we need to intensify our capabilities to identify, isolate, and contact trace. We don't want it to get out of hand again.
BLITZER: [T]here has been a dramatic increase in hospitalizations in several states yesterday. I spoke with Asa Hutchinson, the governor of Arkansas, we're seeing an increase in hospitalizations there, not only an increase in the number of cases. The Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, says even if there is a spike, in his words, he says, we can't shut down the economy again. Is it realistic to rule out the possibility of actually having to shut down the economy again?
Blitzer also tried to pit Fauci against the White House and economic adviser Larry Kudlow, but like he has throughout the pandemic, the longtime Washington bureaucrat didn’t take the bait.
By the seven minute mark, Blitzer dropped anchor on CNN’s one-sided narrative, which has been to express concern about Trump campaign rallies and any other public activity, but show no concern for the weeks of massive, nationwide BLM protests.
Add in Blitzer later asking Fauci about Barack Obama’s criticism of the federal government’s pandemic response and we have a slanted picture, folks (click “expand”):
BLITZER: You know, I want to get your thoughts on this, Dr. Fauci, because I know you've advised that people who are planning to attend President Trump's big rally next week in Oklahoma, that any large group, in your words, is a danger and risky. Have you told President Trump himself that this rally and other huge gatherings like this potentially could be very dangerous and risky?
FAUCI: I have not specifically spoken to him about that, but the principles that I have been espousing hold true and stand, as I've said before. When you're in a large crowd, if you have the congregation of people that are much, much close to each other, you definitely increase the risk that you will either acquire or spread infections and I've said, there are some people that are going to do that anyway, no matter what I say, but the issue is, if they do, please wear a mask all the time, because a mask will give you some protection. The best thing to do is to avoid crowded areas but if you're not going to do that, please wear a mask.
BLITZER:. Let's take a look at — there’s a sense, more than 114,000 Americans have now died over the past three months alone. One of the models, as you know, that the administration, the task force has relied on in the past says it ll be 170,000 Americans dead by October. The President calls the response by the Trump administration an — President Obama, I should say, President Obama called the response by the Trump administration, in his words, an absolute chaotic disaster. Is he wrong?
FAUCI: You know, one of the things I hate to do is be pitted one against the other. I can tell you we've done some things really well, and there are some things we could have done better....I think the cutting off of the influx from China and from Europe was right
BLITZER: [W]hat do you say to those Americans out there who may be watching out there who think it's over, the coronavirus pandemic is over, it's time to get back to business as usual?
FAUCI: Well, although we would love to get back to business as usual, just take a look at the numbers, Wolf and you can see it's not over....[W]e have to do what we can do to try and continue to contain it as best we can....I have no doubt it will end, but we've got to be in it together, do what we can to make sure we can do that as quickly as we possibly can.
Fortunately, CNN’s political spin didn’t last the whole interview. In one section, Blitzer briefly focused with Fauci on the state of research on treatments and vaccines plus how he’s personally been living his life during the pandemic.
When Fauci replied that he and his wife have been still going on walks and ordering takeout from their favorite restaurants, Blitzer threw federalism out the window when wondering if Fauci thought people should be start resuming dine-in eating (inside or outside) anytime soon.
Thankfully, Fauci pointed out the obviously, which was “that’s not where we are right now in Washington,” but said he was “proud” of those that have safely resumed table service.