President Trump made the claim an untold number of times on the campaign trail: That the media would miraculously stop covering the coronavirus the day after the election. “That’s all I hear about,” Trump said at one October rally. “Turn on television, ‘Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid.’ A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don’t talk about it. ‘Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid.’ By the way, on November 4, you won’t hear about it anymore.”
What an awful thing to say — suggesting that news outlets were dishonestly hyping the pandemic to ruin his chances at re-election. This was obviously not true and journalists at the time called Trump out for the patently false claim. But he kept on repeating it anyway. At rallies. On Twitter. To anyone who would listen.
Now, one week after Election Day, the proof is visible for anyone to see. The coronavirus continues to receive large volumes of coverage, with headlines and network news segments highlighting the dangerous rise in cases and hospitalizations taking place from shore to shore. Tuesday marked the highest number of cases reported in the US with 131,970. It was also the eighth consecutive day of more than 100,000 cases in the US.
Wednesday’s WaPo A1 features a map
accompanied by a headline that warns, “Surge shows no sign of easing.” CNN’s homepage is featuring a story
with a headline that reads, “Coronavirus hospitalizations in US reach an all-time high with more than 60,000.” And NYT’s homepage focuses in on
the grim reality taking place in El Paso: “As Hospitalizations Soar, El Paso Brings in New Mobile Morgues.”
“All this conservative messaging about how the media will stop caring about covid now that Biden is president-elect seems very strange as The Media is continuing to [cover the] insane explosion of death and illness, and will obviously continue to do so,” The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng observed
Despite the fact that news orgs are continuing to cover the coronavirus crisis every hour of every day, some GOP leaders continue to push the pathetic lie that media outlets are downplaying or outright ignoring the pandemic. On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz became the latest Republican to promote this false narrative. Cruz retweeted a GOP official who claimed that, post-election, CNN had stopped showing its coronavirus tracker. “Miraculous,” Cruz commented
. “COVID cured, the very instant the networks called the race for Biden.” But the RNC official Cruz was retweeting was clearly wrong: CNN has continued
to use the coronavirus tracker. Viewers know it! When Jake Tapper confronted Cruz over the misinfo he was peddling, Cruz switched topics
. He never removed his inaccurate tweet…
Flood of misinfo en route
The misinfo pushed by Cruz about the media’s intentions will pale in comparison to the storm that is on the horizon with coronavirus vaccines set to arrive in the coming months. As The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weill reported
, “Hours after Pfizer’s Monday announcement, conspiratorial social media channels lit up with baseless claims. Some warned, without evidence, that the COVID-19 vaccine would come with ghastly side effects.”
We’ve seen conspiracy theories about vaccines already circulate, with truthers pushing nonsensical claims about Bill Gates and microchips and a host of other issues. And, with masks, we’ve seen how quickly science can be undermined by bad-faith actors on social media and via irresponsible media outlets like Fox News. Which is all to say that the arrival of coronavirus vaccines will really test our information infrastructure in ways it has not been tested before…