MSNBC Slams ‘Conservative Media’ Trying to ‘Politicize’ Coronavirus

 MSNBC Slams ‘Conservative Media’ Trying to ‘Politicize’ Coronavirus

Leading off a discussion on media coverage of the coronavirus, on Friday, MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle quickly went to work attacking Fox News. Why? Because the competing cable channel was calling out attempts in the press to blame the Trump administration for the spread of the disease.

As the screaming headline “OUTBREAK” flashed on screen, Ruhle began the segment by fretting: “The truth matters, but only when you actually see it. And if you were watching Fox News this week, whether it was in the morning or at night, you would think that the media and the Democrats are happy about the coronavirus.”

After a montage played of Fox News hosts calling out the blatantly politicized coverage of the virus, Ruhle feigned ignorance: “I have no idea what any of those people are talking about.”

Moments later, she turned to NBC News senior media reporter Dylan Byers and asked: “Dylan, what’s your reaction to this narrative from conservative media?” Byers predictably lamented “the sort of unwavering loyalty that conservative media like Fox News, talk radio, has to this president and the White House” and “Their willingness to attack the media, whether it be mainstream media, about anything that seems even remotely critical of the President.”

He then sounded the alarm:

However, when you are talking about something where there is a public health emergency, if it were a natural disaster, anything where public safety is in question….to then go out and politicize it and sort of lead your viewership at Fox News or your listeners on talk radio to believe that they have nothing to worry about because you have such a vested interest in defending this president seems to me to be getting very far into the realm of irresponsibility. We are not talking about impeachment, this is not just a question of choosing your own facts, this is a question of the safety of the American public. And so I think in that regard, it’s extremely irresponsible.

Byers went on to demand “sobriety, clear-eyed, level-headed reporting about what’s a going on with the coronavirus” and lectured: “I think it’s really, really important for the folks at Fox News and the folks on talk radio to think about that.”

Missing from the Fox-bashing segment was any mention of how “irresponsible” the liberal media have been in their own effort to “politicize” coronavirus. On Friday, the NBC’s First Read touted a supposed political advantage for 2020 Democrats: “Trump’s retreat on coronavirus response leaves opening for Democratic candidates.”

On MSNBC’s MTP Daily Thursday evening, anchor Chuck Todd eagerly declared that “the President may have to reap what he has sown when it comes to the public’s trust” since Trump’s “loyalists in the right-wing media” were “using conspiracy theories to sow doubt coming from public health officials.”

On his Wednesday night primetime show, CNN host Don Lemon slammed Mike Pence’s Christian faith and warned that the Vice President would “allow people to die” rather than “look at science” as he heads up the federal response to coronavirus. In addition, a new Media Research Center study just found that 60% of the questions CNN anchors put to guests about the coronavirus on Thursday invited those guests to bash the Trump administration.  

In the pages of The New York Times on Wednesday, liberal columnist Gail Collins juvenilely urged that the disease be renamed the “Trumpvirus.”

Even the broadcast networks have begun looking for opportunities to go after the White House on the topic.

Does any of this coverage sound like “clear-eyed, level-headed reporting”? Perhaps before MSNBC starts throwing stones, it should take care to examine the glass house in which it resides.

Here is a transcript of the February 28 discussion:

9:49 AM ET

STEPHANIE RUHLE: The truth matters, but only when you actually see it. And if you were watching Fox News this week, whether it was in the morning or at night, you would think that the media and the Democrats are happy about the coronavirus. Please watch this.

LAURA INGRAHAM: Watching the media coverage today, it seemed like some of the Trump haters were actually relishing in this moment.

SEAN HANNITY: Tonight I can report the sky is absolutely falling. We are all doomed. The end is near. The apocalypse is imminent and you’re going to all die, all of you, in the next 48 hours, and it is all President Trump’s fault. Or at least that’s what the media mob and the Democratic extreme radical socialist party would like you to think.

PETE HEGSETH: Watch the Democrats, watch the media, you start to feel like they’re rooting for coronavirus to spread.

RUHLE: I have no idea what any of those people are talking about. So let’s bring in Dylan Byers, he’s NBC News senior media reporter and host of the brand-new podcast Byers Market, where his debut episode with Sheryl Sandberg just dropped, I highly recommend it. And Dr. Matt McCarthy back with me.

Dr. McCarthy, the media can be alarmist about certain things, but let’s talk about this one. Fox News says that Democrats and the media are blowing this thing out of proportion. You’re not a member of either. What do you think?

DR. MATT MCCARTHY [AUTHOR OF “SUPERBUGS: THE RACE TO STOP AN EPIDEMIC”]: That’s right. I don’t come here as a Democrat or a Republican, I come here as a doctor who thinks about infections every single day, not just when there’s a pandemic like this. This is something to be worried about and we need to be vigilant. And this is happening at a time when government experts are being stifled.

(…)

RUHLE: Dylan, what’s your reaction to this narrative from conservative media?

DYLAN BYERS: Well, look, you know, two things. First of all, on the one hand, the sort of unwavering loyalty that conservative media like Fox News, talk radio, has to this president and the White House is very familiar. Their willingness to attack the media, whether it be mainstream media, about anything that seems even remotely critical of the President is also something that is extremely familiar.

However, when you are talking about something where there is a public health emergency, if it were a natural disaster, anything where public safety is in question – especially something where you have a group like the CDC coming out and saying this could be bad, we need to get ready to prepare for a scenario in which schools are shutting down, in which people have to work from home, in which there’s limited availability to medical services or doctor’s offices – to then go out and politicize it and sort of lead your viewership at Fox News or your listeners on talk radio to believe that they have nothing to worry about because you have such a vested interest in defending this president seems to me to be getting very far into the realm of irresponsibility. We are not talking about impeachment, this is not just a question of choosing your own facts, this is a question of the safety of the American public. And so I think in that regard, it’s extremely irresponsible.

And now, look, I would just add very quickly to the Doctor’s point, sobriety, clear-eyed, level-headed reporting about what’s a going on with the coronavirus is essential and I think we need as much of that as possible. And I do not think that people should be sending folks into full blown panic mode, but the facts really matter here more than in any other scenario. And I think it’s really, really important for the folks at Fox News and the folks on talk radio to think about that.

(…)

Related post