Accuracy in Media

CNN has promoted reality television-like news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, such as featuring CNN host Chris Cuomo’s recovery from the virus. But when it comes to important matters, such as reporting on the World Health Organization’s misleading claims, CNN has neglected its duty as a news outlet.

According to France 24 News, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus claimed, “The world should have listened to WHO then carefully.” During the virtual press briefing, he referred to the WHO’s official designation of a pandemic at the end of January as a warning that all countries should have heeded. CNN did not cover the WHO chief’s remarks and therefore, it did not rebut or correct his false claim.

Among the media, only two right-leaning media outlets covered the WHO chief’s claims. The Washington Examiner highlighted the WHO’s initial missteps in “downplaying the severity of the virus at its start” and how the WHO criticized the U.S. travel ban to and from China. The Daily Wire highlighted similar criticisms of the WHO.

Ghebreyesus was wrong to claim that the WHO warned countries early enough about the coronavirus pandemic. It deliberated for a week before officially designating it a global pandemic. The WHO also ignored warnings from Taiwanese medical professionals in late December 2019 that the virus was transmissible from human-to-human contact.

Two weeks before the pandemic designation, the WHO tweeted on January 14, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China??.”

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