There’s little doubt that many in the establishment media are trying to turn the coronavirus pandemic into their own windfall against President Donald Trump, and it’s becoming apparent some have resorted to using fake news to do it.
Case in point: a CBS News broadcast Wednesday about the shortfall of ventilators in the state of New York.
Among the cacophony of errors and lies of omission is one crowning jewel of potential prevarication: Footage of coronavirus patients used in the story to whip up hysteria about the situation in New York is actually from Italy.
Before we get to the main payoff, let’s start at the very beginning.
The report from CBS correspondent David Begnaud opens with him talking about how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the federal government isn’t doing enough in the face of the coronavirus emergency, apparently walking back his previous praise.
In a little rhyme that makes him sound like an infomercial charlatan, Begnaud said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s sending only 400 ventilators to the state “isn’t matching the urgency of the emergency.”
The story went on to chronicle how New York City is especially hard-hit. “Crowded subway cars may have accelerated the spread,” Begnaud said over footage of a packed subway car, where a rider was wearing a blue medical mask (more on that later).
Next, Begnaud voiced over footage of a hospital room full of patients hooked up to ventilators. They lay in hospital beds clustered side by side as medical personnel in serious protective gear attended to them, driving home the dire straits in which New York City finds itself.
There’s only one problem: The footage is not from New York City.
In fact, it isn’t even from the United States; it’s from Bergamo, the Italian city hardest-hit by COVID-19. The footage can be seen here in a Sky News report March 22 about a critical shortage of ventilators in northern Italy.
Sure, it’s possible a producer used the wrong footage when putting the piece together, but given the alarmist tone of the story and its apparent pleading of the Democratic governor’s case, one has to wonder where “mistake” ends and “fake news” begins.
But wait, there’s more (we’ll stick in that infomercial trope as a nod to Begnaud).
After the Italian hospital footage ended, the clip switched to a visibly angry Cuomo, who shouted, “What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000? You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators.”
You didn’t read that wrong; Cuomo was just a little off in his calculations, as only 400 ventilators would mean that 29,600 patients would be left without one — assuming, of course, that his premise was even correct.
Apparently, CBS News is just as lousy at math as MSNBC and The New York Times, as Begnaud did nothing to correct the governor’s numbers. With such questionable knowledge of both geography and mathematics, the viewer is left to wonder what other facts the network is sloppy about verifying.
Besides the lies or errors, the most troubling thing about this piece was the tone.
There is no doubt the United States and New York in particular are in the grips of a crisis. COVID-19, as of Monday, had sickened 60,679 and killed 1,040 in the state, of which 790 deaths were in New York City alone, according to Johns Hopkins.
Because of the seriousness of the situation, it is important that the media be truthful in their reporting and not incite panic. This message was one that the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., thought every American needed to hear.
On Friday, he tweeted a clip from Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus task force urging truthful coverage.
“Every American needs to know this,” Trump wrote. “You won’t hear it on CNN. They are only playing bad news.”
Every American needs to know this. You won’t hear it on CNN. They are only playing bad news. https://t.co/jqMTP9yGi1
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 27, 2020
Far from it, pieces like this one from CBS News do everything to cast a shadow over the administration and its handling of coronavirus, including claiming that the president simply isn’t doing enough for the states.
The Western Journal has reached out to CBS News for comment but has not yet received a response.
The Daily Caller’s Shelby Talcott, however, tweeted that the network claimed it was an “editing error.”
NEW:CBS News tells me the misleading video showing an Italian hospital during a segment on NY coronavirus crisis was “an editing mistake.” No word yet on issuing an on-air correction.
“It was an editing mistake. We took immediate steps to remove it from all platforms and shows.”
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) March 30, 2020
Let’s return to the part about the crowded New York subways. So far, the Trump administration has done what it can to help at the federal level but still requires local municipalities to do what they can and should do.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio was slow to respond to coronavirus outbreak, partially discontinuing subway service only on Tuesday following already reduced ridership, The New York Times reported. While Cuomo railed about a shortage of ventilators, the mayor did nothing to stop the spread of the disease at one of its sources.
Meanwhile, another Democratic mayor, LaToya Cantrell of New Orleans, famously blamed Trump for her own decision not to cancel the city’s Mardi Gras celebration despite mounting concerns. The city is now facing an increasingly serious outbreak situation, according to Begnaud’s piece.
The worst part of this is that in the midst of an actual emergency, Trump’s opponents in the media and Democratic Party are wasting time with more opportunistic swipes at destroying him, even as if it means misleading footage and questionable facts.
If the United States is at war with a virus, then what the ancient playwright Aeschylus wrote applies to CBS News’ coverage: “In war, truth is the first casualty.”
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