The Biden administration’s decision to vastly overstate the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 outdoors isn’t sitting well with one of its biggest allies: the legacy media. Multiple hosts on MSNBC and CNN said the inflated estimate shows that the CDC promotes “a huge exaggeration,” is “not following the science,” and is “Big Brothering us.”
The networks’ atypical criticism coincided with a New York Times article which claimed the CDC exaggerated the rate of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 by up to 10,000%. Since late April, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky has reportedly said “less than 10%” of all coronavirus infections had been contracted outside. The Times said that number is “almost certainly misleading”; the correct number is anywhere from 1% to 0.1%.
The CDC’s guidance is true in the same sense that less than 50% of those infected with COVID-19 end up hospitalized, or that, before Sir Edmund Hillary, less than 50 people had scaled Mount Everest.
In a one-two punch of media backlash, CNN’s Chris Cuomo and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough called on the CDC to come clean on COVID-19 infections.
“Look, facts matter. Truth matters,” said Cuomo on Tuesday night, adding that he refused to “cover for an agency just because it’s under attack” by Republicans.
Cuomo wondered aloud if the Biden-Harris administration refused to update CDC guidance about mask usage for fully vaccinated people, because it wished to retain pressure for social control:
Why? Why didn’t they update it? Is this about them Big Brothering us, and trying to keep it safer, longer? I could understand it. But it’s not honest. Remember, it also took them months to update the guidance, telling us COVID is airborne. Remember, aerosolization, the word we all had to learn how to say, and that it wasn’t all about wiping down surfaces.
Cuomo’s comments came just hours after MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” host, Joe Scarborough, said the CDC report contained “a huge exaggeration” about outdoor COVID-19 transmission.
“If you’re not following science — like not sending our kids back to school in a timely manner — you’re actually undermining your credibility,” he said. “In this case, the CDC undermines its credibility when it oversells a statistic.”
“We want people to be guided by science, as we were saying during the Trump era,” Scarborough added. “It is so important we don’t overreact in the other direction,” of magnifying the possibility of transmission.
Scarborough warned the CDC against being “overly conservative” — by which he meant overly restrictive.
“The Morning Joe” host kept the pressure up online, tweeting a copy of The New York Times article which debunked the CDC report.
A Misleading C.D.C. Number https://t.co/rr9202w1z1
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) May 11, 2021
Evidently aware that Scarborough’s comments had made waves, the show’s social media accounts shared an article the next day from The Atlantic by Dr. Lucy McBride on “Why I Don’t Think Kids Need Masks Outside.”
The Biden administration needs to be honest about the low percentage of people transmitting the coronavirus outside — beginning with a visit to his show, Scarborough said on Wednesday. “We need people to get on — CDC officials — we need Biden White House officials to get on and say what the epidemiologists said to David Leonhardt, which is, ‘Come on, it’s next to impossible to catch this outside.’”
Instead, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky went on “Cuomo Prime Time” and Shepard Smith’s CNBC program on Wednesday night.
On Tuesday night, former Obama administration health policy director Dr. Kavita Pritel told Smith that “the CDC’s credibility is eroding as quickly as our cases of coronavirus are eroding.”
Conservatives have long been skeptical of government COVID-19 lockdowns and their attendant shuttering of small businesses, profligate bailouts, government payments to individuals, and restrictions on houses of worship. But legacy media scrutiny of the lockdowns specifically, or the Biden administration in general, is a relatively rare phenomenon.
According to the CDC, “A mask is NOT a substitute for social distancing. Masks should still be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart, especially when indoors around people who don’t live in your household.”
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