A New York Times writer whose article spawned a now-famous tweet blaming Fox News’ early coverage of the coronavirus outbreak for a man’s death tweeted in February that the “virus is not deadly” in most cases, critics found.
Fox News star Sean Hannity is now accusing the writer of “politicizing a tragedy” in order to vilify himself and the network.
In the article, the Times’ Ginia Bellafante relates the story of a Brooklyn bar owner who went on a cruise in March and died of coronavirus a few weeks later. The piece notes that the man was a Fox News viewer and included a quote from Hannity in March suggesting that the media was using the coronavirus as a “new hoax” to “bludgeon” Trump.
New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait shared the piece on Twitter, captioning it “a portrait of a man killed by Fox News.”
Just the facts, please
The left-wing media want to blame Republicans and Trump for making the outbreak worse by allegedly downplaying it in the early weeks.
Trump ignored Dr. Anthony Fauci’s early warnings, they tried to say, until news clips surfaced showing Fauci telling people to go to movie theaters and live normal lives on Feb. 29. Fauci also denied that any of his recommendations were ignored.
Pelosi also likes to say Trump’s response was horrible, even while she encouraged tourism in Chinatown in late February and went on vacation in late March as Trump was working on getting his aid package passed. New York City mayor Bill de Blasio was still urging younger New Yorkers to go about their lives as usual in mid-March.
In this case, it turns out that the Hannity comment cited in the Times article didn’t air until after the bar owner, Joe Joyce, had already left on the cruise — a point Bellafante acknowledges in her article.
Bellafante, on the other hand, wrote her own tweet downplaying the virus just days before Joyce left on the cruise:
I fundamentally don’t understand the panic: incidence of the disease is declining in China. Virus is not deadly in vast majority of cases. Production and so on will slow down and will obviously rebound. cc: @opinion_joe
— Ginia Bellafante (@GiniaNYT) February 27, 2020
Evolving viewpoints on both sides
The truth about the coronavirus response is that most people weren’t too worried about it in February and early March. Sure, the left-wing media started using it to attack Trump politically a few days before news of outbreaks in Italy and other European countries began to trickle across the Atlantic Ocean, but many didn’t take them seriously after three years of constant attacks that mostly didn’t turn out to have much substance.
No one, left or right, knew the coronavirus was going to be as widespread and hard to stop as it turned out to be, because China continuously lied about the extent of cases and deaths there. Little information about how the virus spread or even what the symptoms were was available early on.
It’s way too easy to armchair quarterback the response, but it was far faster and more responsive than Obama’s anemic response to swine flu in 2009, to cite one recent example for comparison. Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking at the left’s early responses to the coronavirus shows that nobody had a crystal ball to see how profoundly the outbreak would affect lives all over the world.