How Politics and the Media Have Changed the Fabric of our Country: Review of the “Facts”
When I think of countries where the media serves as a mouthpiece of the “State”, North Korea, China, Iran and Russia come to mind. Under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to seek and receive accurate news and then express opinions. According to Wikipedia, countries like these flout the standard by banning or severely restricting independent media in an effort to tell “the people” what to think. Their so-called “State Media” uses propaganda to promote certain parties in a favorable light by vilifying the opposition through skewed coverage to opposition views. After observing our media for the last three years, we can sadly add The United States of America to this list. So why is this happening and who are the favorable parties and who are being vilified?
First, I have always thought our system of Government worked pretty well for the most part. It is certainly not perfect but is based on a good set of ideals, principles, and rights. As a federal republic and representative democracy, one of the most important rights we have is the right to vote. In fact, it is this “right” that appears most often in the Constitution’s text. The beauty of our system is that every 2-4 years, the people get to make their voices heard as to who shall hold elected office. As is any contest, there will be winners and there will be losers. There will be voters who are happy with election outcomes and voters who are disappointed. We learned in grade school that taking defeat ungraciously and blaming others for a loss makes for a “sore loser”. These were the kids that were disruptive and no fun to play with! Unfortunately, it appears some of these kids grew up and carried this behavior with them.
Three and ½ years ago, a President of the United States was elected. As with other past Presidential elections, it was a close race (e.g. Bush vs. Gore). As such, nearly half the nation of voters were disappointed. Fours years prior, when President Obama defeated Mitt Romney, over 60 million Romney voters were disappointed. That is just the way it goes. And for the most part, life goes on and everyone learns to play “nice in the sandbox” for the sake of the country. Partisanship, of course, is always alive as is expected in a multi-party system. It is a good thing when it keeps the other guys honest. It is a bad thing when it allows the “sore losers” to change the foundation and fabric of what makes our nation run and what makes it principled and respected.
The tone was set early on when the defeated candidate dismissed the new President as “illegitimate” and suggested he knew he stole the 2016 election with the help of Russia. On the day of the inauguration, over 75 Democrats boycotted the swearing-in of the new President. This was followed by at least 27 Democratic Representatives and Senators stating they were looking into impeachment. That happened after only two months of the new administration taking office. The most telling statement was from Rep. Al Green when he said, “I am concerned if we don’t impeach the President he will get re-elected”. A peaceful transition of power, as has occurred throughout history, was in jeopardy. When Rep. Watters publicly said, “If you see anybody from the Cabinet in a restaurant, department store, at a gas station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you tell them they’re not welcome anywhere, anymore” it was obvious the gloves had come off. There would be no “playing nice in the sandbox” this time around.
I then sensed what was happening in the media and I realized if I wanted to learn what was actually happening day-to-day in our country, I would have to “change the channel”. I would have to observe how news was being reported across all of the main-stream media outlets. What began to emerge was astounding and extremely frightening. The amount of “spin”, bias, omission, falsehoods, propaganda, and skewed coverage was at a whole new level. The consistent narrative was “All bad, All the Time”. Right before my eyes, a so-called “State Media” was born. They were telling people what to think based on their particular narrative. Truth, honesty, and integrity were no longer virtues that mattered. All that mattered for many, from day one of this Presidency, is that the election loss be avenged at any cost and a second term be prevented.
But what if they would have taken a pause and just for a moment, taken Donald Trump’s name out of the equation and replaced it with the name of the candidate they supported. Would they think this type of treatment of a duly elected President is fair and aligned with the values that make up the fabric of this great country? If even a fraction of the war that has been waged against this man from the very beginning were waged against the candidate they supported, the cries of outrage would be deafening.
There are many examples of political bias and lack of journalistic impartiality that could be cited such as the damning details coming to light about illegal FBI surveillance, the Russia probe and resulting impeachment. The seriousness of what is being uncovered, if true, is something you would see done by Russia’s KGB and not by our intelligence agencies and members of Congress. Yet very little of the emerging details are being shared with the viewers of the main-stream media. For now, given the current crisis of the pandemic and the lack of those facts being reported, it will be the focus of this “Review of the Facts”.
It’s hard to believe the first case of Coronavirus was recorded in the United States on January 15, 2020. Seven months later, over 5 million Americans have contracted the virus and over 150,000 have died. Being a “novel” virus, much was unknown so much needed to be learned. I believe most decisions made by the Federal Government and State leaders were well-intentioned and were based on the information they had at that time. My hope was this awful situation would not be politicized and we as a country could work together to defeat the invisible enemy. But keeping with the narrative “All bad, All the time”, the media and politicians have mounted yet another campaign in their attempt to defeat this President in November. Joe Biden recently said, “This is almost criminal the way he’s handled this..” He said Trump’s approach has led to more American deaths and a slower economic recovery. Hillary Clinton weighed in and said her administration would have done better and saved more lives. Nancy Pelosi said she believed Trump’s handling of the crisis cost American lives. On July 21st on CNN, the Speaker has now labeled it “The Trump Virus”.
So, let’s take a look at some of the “facts” of how the administration responded to the Coronavirus as well as how others reacted. The majority of these actions have not been reported by the main-stream media. In fact, the vast majority of their headlines are sensationalistic and focused on a narrative to make the President look grossly inept in his handling of the crisis. Here are some “facts”:
- 1/15/20 1st case enters the USA from China
- 1/17 screenings ordered of San Francisco and New York flights from Wuhan.
- 1/29 the President announces the formation of the Coronavirus Task Force. Members included the heads of HHS, NSA, CDC, State Dept., FDA, Homeland Security and leading experts in the field of virology like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx. Fauci stated on numerous occasions that the President listened to their advice when they made recommendations on mitigation efforts to stop the spread, including shutting down the economy. Weekly calls were also held with the Nation’s governors to determine needs and solutions.
- 1/31 the President ordered a travel restriction from China even though the WHO said there was no need to do so. In response, Joe Biden said the President was “fanning the flames of hate, fear, and xenophobia”. The same day, Nancy Pelosi responded by proposing the “No Ban” Act to STOP the travel ban from China. Experts agree that instituting the travel ban from China in late January helped to slow the virus and save lives. The President was also widely criticized in the media for this action. On this day there were 7 confirmed cases in the USA.
- Some of the newspaper headlines in early February read:
– “Get a grip America. The flu is much bigger threat than Coronavirus, for now”. Washington Post
– “In Europe, fear spreads faster than the Coronavirus itself”. The New York Times
– “Why we should be wary of an aggressive government response to coronavirus”. The Washington Post
- Fauci made statements in late January he later retracted when he said: “Obviously we need to take it seriously but this is not a major threat to the people of the United States and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.” On January 26 he said “The American people should not be worried or frightened by this It’s a very low risk to the United States but it’s something we as public health officials need to take seriously.
- On 2/4, the President talked about the virus at the State of the Union address. This was the same address where Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, ripped up her copy of his speech in front of millions of viewers. The President then went to Congress and requested 2.5 Billion dollars to combat the virus.
- Later in the month of February, Nancy Pelosi went into Chinatown in San Francisco and said, “Everyone come to Chinatown, it’s fine here…. come because precautions have been taken. The city is on top of the situation.”. Mayor DeBlasio did the same thing in NYC.
- On 2/8 the New York Health Commissioner tweeted a message for people to go about their lives and “not change any plans due to misinformation spreading about coronavirus.”
- In March, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order to mandate nursing homes accept recovering Coronavirus patients from hospitals (4,300 is the total). Cases spiked and there are now over 11,000 nursing home deaths in NY. This was designed to free up space in hospitals but the order has been criticized for not following the CMS and CDC guidelines.
- 3/12 the President restricts all travel from Europe. The Media said it was a “political” move. Headlines said, “Blocking travelers won’t prevent it’s spread”. The same day his Coronavirus task force introduces 15 days to slow the spread. That turned into 30 days. These published guidelines recognized that each state was responsible for mandates based on their numbers. It then went on to provide very detailed suggestions to follow that would help flatten the curve. On this day there were 987 confirmed cases in the USA.
- 3/13 the President declares a National Emergency
- 3/18 the President invokes the Defense Production Act. He deployed Fema, the National Guard, and the Army to states who requested help. The Army Corps of Engineers erected 673 temporary hospitals. In addition, two Naval ships were converted to treat COVID and deployed to NY and CA. Sadly, most of those beds would remain empty. On this day there were 7,087 confirmed cases in the USA.
- In March, the Department of Homeland Security discovers China hid the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the early stages to hoard medical supplies. The report describes how Beijing increased imports and decreased exports of medical supplies for their own citizens which caused a severe supply shortage for the rest of the world.
- By April 1, Fema had delivered over 27 million surgical masks, 20 million N95 masks, 23 million surgical gloves, 5.2 million face shields, and 7,600 ventilators. NY and NJ got another 192,000 N95 masks. On this day there were 163,199 confirmed cases in the USA.
- 4/18 the task force releases the “Plan to Open America” in 3 phases based on medical results. As with the 15/30-day guidelines to slow the spread, each state would be responsible for how they would lift restrictions and re-open. Under our constitutional system, states have the power and responsibility for maintaining public order and safety. Therefore, it is misleading when Joe Biden says to the American people “Had President Trump taken immediate and decisive action, tens of thousands of lives and millions of jobs would never have been lost.” He also said, “The depth of economic devastation our nation is experiencing is not an act of God, it’s a failure of presidential leadership.”
- 4/29 the President introduces “Operation Warp Speed” that will accelerate the development and distribution of vaccines for the coronavirus. This is a partnership among HHS, CDC, FDA, NIH, DOD and BARDA. The program has developed the necessary infrastructure for the distribution of a vaccine to all Americans. They have chosen three vaccine candidates to fund for Phase 3 trials. All have shown very promising results. Also, 3 therapeutics have been approved to treat the virus along with plasma treatment that generates antibodies. To date, 10 Billion dollars has been earmarked for this overall project.
- Near the end of July, Johns Hopkins (a system that has been tracking statistics from the beginning) reported two ratios concerning Coronavirus deaths. One is the death rate per 100,000 people and the other is the case-fatality ratio. Here are those key results:
Death Rate per 100,000 people (based on the total population-rounded numbers)
-The United Kingdom 70 deaths per 100,000 population
Observed case-fatality ratio (total deaths per 100 people diagnosed)
-United Kingdom 15 deaths per 100 people diagnosed
Overall USA Data:
Total Population 328 million people
Total cases 5.1 million
Total deaths 154,598
*As of July 30, the total number of tests reported is 53 million
The efforts of the Administration presented here represent a fraction of what they and the Nation have done to come together to defeat this terrible pandemic. Sadly, a vast segment of the population that relies on main-stream media and elected officials for accurate reporting has been fed what it is they want the American people to think. Here are some examples of reporting headlines from CNN and The New York Times:
- March: “Donald Trump’s Surreal Alternative Universe on Corona virus”
- June: “Trump’s Post-CoVid Bubble is Popping”
- June: “Trump’s Pandemic Failing is Now Directly Impacting His Campaign”
- June: “Trump’s Wish for An End to the Pandemic Contradicts Reality”
- June: “Trump is Not Just in Denial but also Indifferent to an Unfolding American Tragedy”
- June: “Trump Entrenched in Failed Strategy as Virus Surges and Polling Drops”
- July: “As Trump Gaslights America About Coronavirus, Republicans Face a Critical Choice”
- July: “Here’s Exactly How Detached from Reality Donald Trump is on Coronavirus”
- July: “A Pandemic all but Forgotten”
- July: “President Trump is Enabling the Virus”
The New York Times
- February: “Let’s Call it the Trump Virus” (on this day there were 53 reported cases in the USA)
- March: “Trump to New York: Drop Dead”
- March: “A Complete List of Trump Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus”
- April: “Trump and Coronavirus: A Sour President Home Alone with TV as his Constant Companion”
- April: “He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus”
- May: “CoVid Dreams, Trump Nightmares”
- May: “How Trump is Worsening the Virus Now”
- June: “Can we call Trump a Killer?”
To compound the impact of the media’s slanted coverage and non-reporting of the facts, the President’s political opponents are actually accusing his administration of “costing American lives”. Rather, if they had better ideas, they had a duty to share what it is they would have done in order to save lives. It’s so easy to be a “Monday morning quarterback” when you are sitting on the sidelines and get to call what the plays should have been after the game is over. Doing so in one of the worst pandemics the world has faced is, quite frankly, reprehensible.
There were clearly challenges as the USA and the World learned how to defeat the Coronavirus and this terrible pandemic. I still believe decisions made by the Federal Government and state leaders were well-intended and made with the information available at that time. Of course, mistakes were made and will continue to be made. We will learn from those mistakes and be stronger as we continue to fight this battle in the future.
What also should be battled is the “State Media” and the politicians who use propaganda to promote certain parties in a favorable light by “vilifying the opposition through skewed coverage to opposition views.” That is the system of Russia, China, North Korea, and other Communist countries. This should make every American very afraid. Ask yourself, what else is being withheld and what other propaganda am I being fed? If we don’t, this may be the point of no return.
This goes beyond the next election and the vying for absolute power in Washington. The American people should stand up and demand truth, honesty, transparency, fairness and integrity from our politicians and media. Like with children, the “sore losers” need to learn there are consequences for bad behavior. It’s time for the temper tantrums to end. The adults in the room need to get things back on track before we see “America” permanently disappear before our eyes.
Ellen A. Banks