Accuracy in Media

The New York Times left out details about the coronavirus outbreak in China in an article about growing U.S.-China tensions during the coronavirus pandemic.

The newspaper headlined its summary of the issue, “U.S.-China Feud Over Coronavirus Erupts at World Health Assembly.” The article focused on President Donald Trump’s assertion that if changes are not made at the WHO, then the U.S. would withhold the remainder of its funding. Meanwhile, China pledged $2 billion to help the WHO contain the outbreak.

The New York Times emphasized Trump’s rhetoric, most of which was contained in a letter sent to the WHO informing them of his conditional decision to withhold funding. The newspaper also claimed that it was a political ploy to blame the WHO and China for the outbreak to convince Americans “that he was not responsible for the deaths and massive economic calamity caused by the virus” and “blunt fierce criticism from Democrats over his failures on the pandemic.”

But the newspaper did not mention the timeline of events in the coronavirus outbreak until this point in time. It did not mention that the WHO took several weeks to decide before declaring the outbreak was a pandemic in late January. Nor did the newspaper note that the WHO mistakenly told the public that the virus was not transmissible from person to person early on in the outbreak. The New York Times also ignored how the Chinese government’s reported statistics about infections and deaths were flawed and inaccurate.

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