Mass gatherings are bad, except for when they are not, according to corporate media’s news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.
Though this makes no sense whatsoever, this is the line that several major news outlets have adopted, closely mimicking the position of key Democratic officials who have allowed the Black Lives Matter protests to thrive even while imposing extreme restrictions on businesses and houses of worship. It is purely political nonsense and is likely a big reason why a growing number of people now question the official social distancing guidelines. No one likes being jerked around.
The New York Times published an article this weekend clearly suggesting that the virus’s recent resurgence is due to shoppers, beachgoers, and the like. Conspicuously absent from the article is any reference, whether in writing or in picture, to the continued anti-police demonstrations that fill the streets of major cities day and night. Not even a passing mention.
How does one write an entire article blaming the virus’s return on lax adherence to social distancing guidelines and not mention the protests that have thousands of people clogging the streets every day? Have these people really convinced themselves that jamming a few thousand protesters into a small outdoor area is alright so long as they wear masks? If that is the case, let’s reopen the stadiums. Bring back baseball with audiences.
The New York Times report includes a picture of a man getting a haircut. It also includes a picture of shoppers leaving a store in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It includes a very specific anecdote about a waitress in California who caught the virus recently during the state’s reopening period. It includes comments from business owners who question the wisdom of reopening.
The report also includes this very specific line: “Many states have traced new outbreaks to the loosening of the economically costly restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.”
It adds, “In California, which has had more than 500,000 coronavirus cases, more than any other state, the reopening has proved disastrous. When the pandemic was ravaging the Northeast in March and April, California kept its daily case count around 2,000, and the state was praised for its early and aggressive actions to combat the virus.”
“Cases are now increasing slightly in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts,” the report continues, “as residents move around more freely and gather more frequently in groups.”
In the print edition of the same story, which bears the slightly different headline “Brief Reprieve, Then the Virus Charges Back,” there are pictures of people at the beach, at the park, and at a drive-in movie.
Yet for all the words and images dedicated to suggesting the possible reasons for the virus’s resurgence, there is not even a mention of the massive anti-police demonstrations in New York City, Portland, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. Not a word.
Unfortunately, this New York Times report is not an outlier. This sort of thing, the shaming of shoppers, restaurant patrons, and beachgoers all while looking the other way for crowded, sweltering, and sometimes violent anti-police protests, has become the norm in today’s coronavirus news coverage.
CNN, for example, published a report on July 29 titled “Large gatherings are fueling rising Covid-19 cases, but they keep happening” that was careful to omit from its coverage any reference to the demonstrations. The Washington Post published an article on July 25 that also declined to mention the protests as one cause for the virus’s resurgence, though the report did blame campers, bars, “crowded boardwalks,” restaurants, and even “boredom.”
Part of what has been so maddening about the coronavirus lockdowns is that the guidance from authorities has been completely contradictory. No, you cannot go to the beach. Yes, you can gather in the streets. The news coverage from CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and others, the reports that shame campers and beachgoers all while giving the anti-police demonstrations a pass, reflects that maddening double standard. People can see this. They know it when even those who say social distancing is of the utmost importance do not seem to take it seriously. So in case you were wondering why adherence to the standards may have loosened in the last couple of weeks, maybe start with the double standards.