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3 Aug, 2020 01:38

Pandemic propaganda? NY Times implies outings to the beach or the park are to blame for Covid-19's spread

Pandemic propaganda? NY Times implies outings to the beach or the park are to blame for Covid-19's spread

The New York Times splashed three big pictures across its Sunday frontpage to illustrate an article on the resurgence of Covid-19 in the US. It would have been tough to get the scenes more wrong if one were trying to do so.

All three photos showed relatively low-risk activities, including families playing on a beach in Florida, children at a park in Georgia and people watching a drive-in movie from their cars in Texas. None showed a crowded bar or a nursing home. None showed crowds of strangers packed together, like commonly seen at a Black Lives Matter protest.

Ironically, the Times had another article Sunday suggesting that riding the subway isn't a high-risk activity for the spread of coronavirus.

Could America's so-called "newspaper of record" have just bungled the news package that dominated its most high-profile page of the week? Maybe the photo chief and the news editor miscommunicated? Doctors who have been watching the mainstream media's misleading coverage of the pandemic aren't buying it.

Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, sees the package as a continuation of a media misinformation campaign. "What's driving the latest surge in cases? Apparently, people enjoying themselves at spacious beaches and parks and drive-in movies," she said on Twitter.

A Boston intensive care unit doctor identifying himself as Ed MD said, "Each of these pictures could literally be used as an example of the safest recreational practices." Another user under name Doctor Mat Smith said there can only be an agenda behind the story because, "The New York Times' writers aren't stupid, they're disingenuous."

Author Mark Ames, co-host of the Radio War Nerd podcast, pointed out the media's misdirection also helps steer unwanted attention away from true culprits: "Blame anyone or anything, so long as we don't talk about the role America's $4 trillion healthcare swindle plays in this pandemic sh**show."

This kind of coverage likely works on multiple levels for the propagandists, but the main message is: be afraid and miserable. Other than a brief hiccup in the early days of the outbreak -- when the press corps' anti-Trump fervor necessitated suggesting the virus wasn't a major threat and that the president banned flights from China because he's a racist – the media has consistently worked to make Americans as afraid and agitated as possible.

Every step by the government to restrict people's activities was cheered – the more the authoritarian, the better. Any steps toward reopening the economy and allowing more activities was met with trepidation. The media feeds us a steady diet of stories about people brawling as arguments escalate over wearing a mask.

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The science is always settled in these narratives, even when it was settled in the opposite direction a few weeks ago. Never mind that media darling Dr. Anthony Fauci once advised Americans not to wear masks to protect against the virus. The BBC gas-lighted us just the other day, reporting that Fauci says it's "not helpful" for conflicting guidance to be given on masks, without even mentioning that the top US coronavirus expert himself gave opposite recommendations and doesn't regret it.

The same Fauci refused in a US House hearing Friday to be pinned down by Republican Jim Jordan on whether massive protests led by BLM and other groups contribute to the spread of Covid-19. After saying that crowding together, especially without masks being worn, can cause the virus to spread, he dodged the issue of protests: "I said crowds. I didn't say specifically, I didn't say protests do anything."

The media has also decided that the science over hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is settled, despite the fact that the Lancit, a top medical journal, retracted a study questioning the drug's safety in treating Covid-19. When a group of doctors put out a video last week saying that wearing a mask isn't necessary and that HCQ is effective as part of a coronavirus cure, the Washington Post and other media went on the attack, ridiculing one of the doctors. Social media companies jumped in, with Twitter locking down the accounts of Donald Trump Jr. and others who retweeted the doctors' video, saying they had violated its policy against spreading misinformation. Right or wrong, the doctors' arguments deserve to be heard. It's up to medical experts, not the media, to determine whether HCQ works.

Backwardness and nonsensicalness are the norms for public safety theater. States like New Jersey and Michigan banned such activities as going to the gym, golfing or boating while ensuring there was no disruption to "essential services" such as liquor stores and lottery ticket sales. Young and healthy people were essentially put on house arrest, while the most vulnerable populations were left unprotected.

Also on rt.com Members of Congress returning to DC from Lewis funeral in Georgia won't have to follow quarantine rule made for everybody else

Governors in New York and Pennsylvania even issued orders requiring nursing homes to accept Covid-19 patients, leading to more deaths. And while this was going on, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine moved her 95-year-old mother out of a personal care home where some residents were known to have the virus. Nursing home residents account for about 70 percent of all coronavirus deaths in Pennsylvania.

So Sunday's New York Times is just more backwardness and more misinformation. It's easy to see a method in the madness. If even activities like enjoying a breezy day on an uncrowded beach are branded as dangerous, then everything is dangerous. Fun itself is banned. Just shiver in a dark corner until it's over – if it's ever over.

But why all the deception? One axiom goes that in an election year, every big thing that happens is about the election. And all the coronavirus dots point back to ousting Donald Trump from the White House.

Wrecking the economy was an obvious benefit to that cause. Incumbents historically have fared poorly when unemployment is high and the economy is slumping. But the misery goes beyond finances. As the World Happiness Report and other data has shown, unhappy people don't tend to vote for incumbents.

So stay away from the beach and the park, and don't dare go to a drive-in movie. This is no time for smile-inducing pursuits.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.