Media's infectious role in stoking COVID-19 fears

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Steve Jordahl (

MSNBC's Nicolle WallaceA sense of fear nearing panic surrounds the unknown coronavirus that has been stoked, in part, by a mainstream media that sees a chance to stick it to President Donald Trump.

The World Health Organization today declared that the global coronavirus crisis can be characterized as a pandemic. The WHO is "deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread and severity" of the outbreak, said the head of the U.N. agency.

Just last week, MSNBC was musing about the White House's response to the coronavirus. Princeton professor Eddie Glaude wondered aloud if this was the moment that would unmask Trump for the fraud they accuse him of being. Host Nicolle Wallace (pictured above) was right behind him:

Glaude: "This may be Donald Trump's Katrina."

Wallace: "Let's just lean into that for a minute. Katrina was the moment when all the things that felt incredibly incompetent about the Bush presidency … were realized – we gave them a proof point that we were indeed incompetent …. This has the makings, structurally, for the same kind of moment for President Trump."

Glaude: "If there's any a moment that would shake that 40 percent – the folks who would allow him to shoot someone … – if there's any a moment, it's this one …. It seems to me that this is an event that could take down a president."

CNN's Brian Stelter has never shied away from offering unsolicited opinions about the president:

Stelter: "The president should lead or else he should get out of the way. By all means, sir, please don't go out of your way to make a bad situation worse. Maybe just stay on the golf course."

And those were just two of multiple examples of the mainstream media rooting for American failure, according to Scott Whitlock – a small price to pay, he adds, for finally getting Trump.

"This is another example of journalists thinking that this is the thing that is going to get Donald Trump," says Whitlock, an associate editor with Media Research Center. "Previously they thought it was going to be impeachment that would take him down."


The scary part, according to Whitlock, is that it may be working. The stock market dropped a record 2,000 points on Monday. "That's the real thing to remember," he cautions. "… We don't know where this is going to go, and panicking never helps."

The stock market rebounded more than 1,100 points on Tuesday. But on Wednesday it took another dive, dropping as much as 1,600 points in the final hour of trading and finishing 1,464 points down.

In an unscientific OneNewsNow poll on Friday, almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents said the most frustrating thing about the coronavirus outbreak is "media hype stoking people's fears."


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