The New York Times Needs To Be More Honest About Trump and the Coronavirus Pandemic

Unlike many lefties, I am not a New York Times hater. They do some of the best reporting in the country and that’s why I end up linking to them a lot. That said, they sure do screw up their front page way more often than they should. Here it is on Friday evening:

If you look just at the top of the page, you’ll learn that President Trump has declared a national emergency; that he’s agreed to an aid package; that stocks have surged; that New York City has 400 coronavirus cases; that the worst-case estimates for coronavirus mortality are pretty bad; and that travelers entering the country aren’t being screened.

Then we get a coronavirus Q&A: how to clean your phone; what to do with your 401(k); and how to stock your pantry.

Only if you keep going do you finally learn that Trump misled the public over and over during his press conference today. Under a bland headline, reporter Linda Qiu tells us that on live national TV:

  • Trump lied when he blamed Obama for testing shortages.
  • Trump lied or was delusional—or something—when he said Google was ready to go with a coronavirus website.
  • Trump lied when he said he closed the border with Europe “some time ago.”
  • Trump pretended that he had no responsibility for disbanding a pandemic team in the White House.

She could have added that the entire press conference was a master class in how not to respond to the coronavirus: Trump crowded a bunch of people together; he shook as many hands as he could; he said he hadn’t bothered isolating himself or getting tested even though he’s been around other people who have tested positive; and he didn’t use the opportunity to explain best practices to people.

I get that condemning Trump is not the main goal of the news pages of the Times. They aren’t Mojo or The Nation or Rachel Maddow. But purely as a news service, isn’t it important for their readers to know that they can’t trust anything Trump says about the coronavirus pandemic? He’s had several chances to get it right and his self-centered personality simply doesn’t allow him to. This is something that the mainstream news media needs to make sure the public understands.

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It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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