A bevy of bloggers on the right have highlighted one of the most dramatic examples of comparative coronavirus bias: Those reckless southern Republican governors in Georgia or Florida who allegedly love commerce more than human lives, versus New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, our apparent national lodestar of competence.
One side gets the heat, the other gets his press conferences broadcast live across the country as celebrities confess their Cuomo crushes. One side is “dangerous,” and the other gets to joke around with his CNN-hosting brother.
This tilt isn’t just in the “objective” press, but also in the prestige brands in opinion journalism. Take The Atlantic, which made a dramatic turn in explicitly endorsing Hillary Clinton in 2016. This was celebrated in a big story by NPR as rare and historic. Their Trump loathing never fades.
The Atlantic drew major heat for an April 29 article trashing Gov. Brian Kemp, entitled “Georgia’s Experiment in Human Sacrifice: The state is about to find out how many people need to lose their lives to shore up the economy.” This article was also celebrated with a story on NPR. Its writer, Amanda Mull, took credit for the headline and insisted it was accurate: “I think that working-class Georgians, a group that is largely people of color, are being sacrificed to the state's economy, largely.”
But Georgia’s reopening made The Atlantic look foolish. Coronavirus cases and deaths didn’t surge. They declined. Mull wrote another article insisting it was too early for apologies, headlined “The Horror of the Coronavirus Data Lag: Some reopening states are already claiming victory over the coronavirus. But the real consequences won’t be clear for weeks.”
Keep hope alive, Amanda.
Just look at the numbers. Georgia’s death count as of May 26 is 1,853. By contrast, New York’s is 23,848. So is it science or politics that causes Brooklyn-based Amanda Mull and all her New York media brethren to kvetch at Kemp and coddle Cuomo? Facts aren't first?
Now try a search to find The Atlantic holding Cuomo accountable for anything. Molly Jong-Fast wrote an article on “The New New York Will Be Better.” There’s no hot talk of “Experiments in Human Sacrifice,” just more trashing Republicans.
“As anyone who listens to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily updates knows, the state’s finances are in bad shape, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems disinclined to help,” Jong-Fast declared. “It’s possible that the deadbeat federal government will not support the Wuhan of America and that New York will have to endure rounds and rounds of devastating budget cuts, of the kind we haven’t seen in decades.”
Their political writer Russell Berman had the longest take on Cuomo, but the headline was “How New York Explains the Other 49 States.” Cuomo was evaluated for managing the tricky upstate-versus-downstate politics, but was in no way held accountable for governing the “Wuhan of America.”
Ed Yong’s story on the “Patchwork Pandemic” barely mentions Cuomo. There’s this half a sentence, deep into the article: “Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, is turning 24 churches in low-income areas into testing centers.”
Then CNN’s Brian Stelter put Yong on his show Reliable Sources. Did he ask about the “Human Sacrifice” piece? No. Stelter asked Yong "As a science writer, you know, you're studying this every day, where are you on the optimism/pessimism scale?"
Conservatives should be robustly pessimistic that our elite media will ever assume a dispassionate, nonpartisan approach that holds both Democrats and Republicans accountable in the public debate. These political referees are always rigging the game.