Accuracy in Media

Amid fears of the spread of coronavirus, CNN blamed racism for stirring up fears about Chinese people. 

The article, headlined, “As the coronavirus spreads, fear is fueling racism and xenophobia,” narrowed in on how racism spurred hateful rhetoric online, on television and in-person.

As a result of the coronavirus’s origin — mainland China’s  Wuhan province –people are openly espousing xenophobic and racist views about Chinese people and suggesting Chinese cuisine caused a potential global pandemic, CNN reported. 

Authorities traced the coronavirus to a market in Wuhan and that it was transmitted from an animal to a human, which then was transferred from human to human.

The network claimed that the virus’s spread spurred “a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment” across the world. 

“But the panic has also taken another, more familiar form, with the re-emergence of old racist tropes that portray Asians, their food, and their customs as unsafe and unwelcome. As panic spreads, so does racism.”

CNN gave an extensive lesson on anti-Chinese sentiment over the years, detailing the mistreatment of Chinese immigrants in the United States and recent social media posts about Chinese cuisine. Only after detailing the history of xenophobia did CNN report that China has “a problem with badly-regulated trade of wild animals, which has led to previous outbreaks.” 

The 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome — SARS — “was traced to the civet cat, considered a delicacy in southern China,” CNN reported, saying that the government “has been reluctant to take more aggressive action, and illegal trade continues.” 

CNN deflected blame from the government’s oversight of food because it is “difficult to end these practices because of the cultural significance and prevalence of traditional Chinese medicine.”

Chinese food traditions are thought to have caused both the 2003 SARS outbreak and this year’s coronavirus outbreak, but the Chinese government did not increase food safety regulations in either instance. Holding the Chinese government accountable is not racist or xenophobic; rather, it is a demonstration of civic responsibility. 

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