Journalists hit Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) for criticizing mainstream media coverage of the U.S.’s coronavirus death toll but ignored how the media took the Chinese government’s official estimates at face value.
“Some in our media can’t contain their glee & delight in reporting that the U.S. has more #CoronaVirus cases than #China,” Rubio tweeted, “Beyond being grotesque, its bad journalism…We have NO IDEA how many cases China really has but without any doubt its significantly more than why they admit to.”
Several journalists replied to Rubio’s tweet, such as New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, who said, “No one feels glee or delight. Some of us feel white hot rage.” Laura Bassett, a GQ columnist, said, “This tweet is grotesque. Delete it.” “Marco isn’t allowed to criticize the president so he’s decided to criticize the media,” wrote Daily Beast’s editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast.
The journalists have a point in that their colleagues and families are also affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but they ignored the multiple mainstream media headlines which highlighted America’s lead in coronavirus-related cases and deaths. “U.S. Now Leads the World in Confirmed Cases,” said the New York times. ABC News wrote, “US now leads world with over 85,500 coronavirus cases.” NBC News headlined the news, “U.S. surpasses China with coronavirus cases as global total tops 500,000.”
As Rubio pointed out, no one can confirm the number of cases and deaths in China during the pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, the Chinese government officially claimed that it had a 82,356 confirmed cases and 3,306 deaths, with zero new domestic virus cases. Compared to China’s statistics, the U.S. has 103,321 cases and 1,668 deaths. As Accuracy in Media reported last week, the mainstream media was not skeptical of China’s statistics and overlooked Chinese propaganda and disinformation campaigns that blamed the virus’s origins on the U.S. military.
Instead of reacting as they did, journalists should acknowledge the stark differences between mainstream media’s coverage of U.S. deaths and its coverage of China’s statistics.