Both ABC News and The Guardian lead with alarming headlines on Tuesday stating that the death toll from the current COVID-19 pandemic had skyrocketed in a single day spike. ABC proclaimed an unprecedented death toll in New York City and The Guardian followed suit. From the headlines alone, one could only conclude that our current crisis had not only worsened, but that hope remained at a premium. The Guardian certainly tried to make no bones about it:
The US suffered its highest daily death toll from coronavirus on Tuesday, with 1,858 people succumbing to the disease, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
It turns out the supposed spike in the daily death toll came about because officials have now begun recording fatalities outside of hospitals. In fact, the very same ABC News piece proclaiming the unprecedented spike offered much-needed clarification well below the actual headline (emphasis added):
The daily death toll is appearing to spike because authorities are now recording fatalities that occurred outside hospitals and previously were unknown. Out of the newly reported 1,417 deaths, 607 occurred in hospitals in the last day, while other fatalities were previously unreported deaths outside of hospitals.
The spike was caused by new information being added to the overall analyses, not a direct spike in fatalities as the headlines very clearly suggested. In other words, the pandemic hadn’t worsened. The statistical margins had simply broadened to include other data.
Unfortunately, these headlines are being bandied about on an hourly basis and are gaslighting the American public to a dizzying degree. The mainstream media doesn’t have any interest at all in providing any sort of hope or solidarity in this crisis. They simply want panic-stricken clicks to fill their coffers and to promote their own misguided agendas.
Lest we forget, newspaper publishers have continued to see their revenues plummet over the last few decades. It’s no wonder that they now resort to sensationalism, gaslighting, and in some cases, outright lies. This is now true more than ever amid the current pandemic.
Aside from glaring inaccuracies, one of the most egregious attempts at gaslighting by the media continues to be the belabored trope that President Trump declared COVID-19 a hoax. Regardless of what some of us may think of him, in no uncertain terms did he make such a statement.
Media giants like CNN continue to run with this story though. In an attempt to drive home this false narrative, they recently ran a piece about a New York City official who lost his mother to COVID-19:
“Had the President taken this threat seriously and put people’s health before his political interests, he would have acted immediately,” Stringer said. “Instead, he wasted months of time – and spent it talking about how coronavirus was a ‘Democratic hoax’ and how the problem would disappear ‘like a miracle.’ It was wrong, it was reckless, it cost lives.”
The fact of the matter is that even Snopes, hardly a bastion of conservatism and generally an exceedingly liberal site, begrudgingly admits that Trump never declared COVID-19 a hoax:
In context, Trump did not say … that the virus itself was a hoax. He instead said that Democrats’ criticism of his administration’s response to it was a hoax.
Now more than ever, we must critically evaluate everything we are reading and hearing amid this crisis. We can’t allow for confirmation bias, nor can we succumb to dogmatic overtures. Most importantly, we can’t allow ourselves to be gaslighted by the media into states of panic and despair.