Analysis – Flashback: Right-wing media downplayed potential for coronavirus mortality in spring


The United States took a tragic step on Tuesday, surpassing 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus. This vast loss of life is difficult to deal with. The figure represents mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, cousins ​​and uncles, friends and colleagues.

It’s a number that no one ever wanted to reach. But that didn’t blind us. The first models predicted it. It’s hard to forget the White House press conference in March in which the task force told the public to be prepared for 100,000 to 240,000 deaths.

Most news organizations soberly reported the warning and took it seriously. But many right-wing media figures failed to do so. Instead, they attacked the models and suggested that health experts like Dr Anthony Fauci were fear-mongering. And when a model briefly lowered its projection to 60,000 deaths (with some caveats), those numbers grabbed the news, touting it as supposed evidence of the scale of the White House response and unreliable claims. health experts.

As the United States crosses this terrible milestone of 200,000 deaths, it is worth looking at those who attacked models, health experts and the media. Here are some comments made in April by top conservative commentators and personalities:

>> Rush Limbaugh: “It has now fallen to 60,000. What happened to 240,000? What happened to 100,000 to 200,000? What happened to 240,000? ”

>> Brian Kilmeade: “The point is, when somebody says 200,000 people die, oops, I mean 60,000. And it’s not going to be right away, it’s going to be in August. That’s how well we are doing and how the models were… ”

>> Bill O’Reilly: ” The [death toll] the projections you just mentioned are reduced to 60,000, I don’t think it will be that high… ”

>> Candace Owens: “FACT: we went from 2.2 million, to 100,000, to 60,000 predictive deaths from #coronavirus because the models were always bulls ** t, the media was always lying, and the virus has never been so deadly that experts who are chronically mistaken everything, prophesied… ”

>> Laura Ingraham: “They were divided by 33 from 2.2 million projected COVID deaths at the top, which was terrifying to just over 60,000 projected deaths today …”

>> Mark Levin: “We’ve seen these numbers, these so-called patterns and data for the last six to eight weeks. They have fluctuated enormously. Millions could die. Hundreds of thousands could die. Now they say 60,000 give or take, maybe less than 60,000… ”

>> Tucker Carlson: “Sixty thousand dead – that’s a very large number. … Yet at the same time, it is much less than many expected. It is a much lower number…. ”

>> Martha MacCallum: “You can’t help but look at the numbers that caused it and the models that were incorrect that were really one of the biggest pressure points to shut down the US economy. It is quite possible that you will end up with death figures in this Covid-19 tragedy of those who have been affected who will be south of the 2018 flu season figures … ”

>> Dinesh D’Souza: “Most people don’t know how distant the #Coronavirus models have been. A bonkers virus denial that predicted ZERO deaths would be closer to the target (i.e. the current projection of 60,000) than the best-case scenarios, taking social distancing into account, of 100 to 240,000 deaths … ”

>> Jim Hoft: “STUNNING! IHME reduces its model predictions again! – Now say that Peak is at Easter and that only 60,000 deaths… like a typical flu! ”

It is important to revisit these comments, given how many of these commentators are still misleading the public about the coronavirus and the administration’s response today. Fox News, talk radio and right-wing websites were teeming with comments downplaying the virus in April – and, in many ways, they still are today, even with a staggering 200,000 death toll. The arguments have changed, but not the dishonesty.


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