Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said members of the press are unfairly reporting on Black Lives Matter and other protests versus Trump rallies amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Massive demonstrations erupted across the United States following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody on Memorial Day. Online videos showing a now-fired Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes prior to Floyd’s death sparked protests over police brutality and a push to “defund the police.”
“Be it Black Lives Matter, be it the new CHOP demilitarized zone — well, not demilitarized zone, whatever they’re calling this thing in Seattle — or an Occupy Wall Street rally. If that’s happening, you go there! You go! You’re gonna be safe as you can possibly be,” Limbaugh said on his show Monday. “But let Trump think about a rally in Tulsa, and apparently the virus is gonna be well aware, and it’s gonna be lying in wait.”
Media outlets and public health professionals have deemed the protests more important than social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic because of the protests focus on alleged systemic racism within police departments.
“We should always evaluate the risks and benefits of efforts to control the virus. In this moment, the public health risks of not protesting to demand an end to systemic racism greatly exceed the harms of the virus,” Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo tweeted on June 2.
Nuzzo’s sentiments were repeated and expounded on in a June 5 letter signed by nearly 1,300 “public health professionals, infectious diseases professionals, and community stakeholders” asserting that “white supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19.”
Newsrooms have similarly emphasized that protesting against racism outweighs edicts encouraging social distancing in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. News outlets have traditionally barred reporters from taking part in protests, demonstrations, or other such public displays, but those old rules are being strained by a growing sentiment among reporters that “objectivity” is outdated.
“Let me say we proudly support and encourage you to exercise your rights to free speech, press, and protest. If you’re arrested or meet harm while exercising these rights, Axios will stand behind you and use the Family Fund to cover your bail or assist with medical bills,” Jim VandeHei, co-founder and chief executive of Axios, told staff in a June 8 email, according to The New York Times.
Limbaugh referenced a pair of NBC News tweets sent less than an hour apart on June 14 promoting articles on a Black Lives Matter protest in New York City and a planned rally for President Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The rally article’s caption reads “Rally for Black trans lives draws packed crowd to Brooklyn Museum plaza,” while the article on Trump’s rally emphasizes the threat from the coronavirus, “President Trump plans to rally his supporters next Saturday for the first time since most of the country was shuttered by the coronavirus. But health experts are questioning that decision.”
Little over an hour apart. pic.twitter.com/K2a7fGRNDd
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) June 15, 2020
“It’s okay for BLM, Black Trans Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, whatever. It’s okay for liberal Democrats to congregate and sardine themselves everywhere. That’s so cool. That’s fine,” Limbaugh said. “Let Trump do a rally and, somehow, he’s going to be responsible for murder! He’s gonna be responsible for death, responsible for people getting sick.”
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