According to an analysis from The New York Times, 81,321 Americans have been infected with the coronavirus. This, they say, “is more cases than China, Italy or any other country has seen.” Now, I don’t think anyone really believes that China’s confirmed coronavirus cases simply topped out in the 80,000 range, but the World Health Organization and other groups seem to be accepting their numbers as gospel, anyway.
Just days earlier, the New York Times acknowledged that propaganda from the Chinese government has been “reshaping the coronavirus narrative” (by censoring negative information, hyping up China as the leader in the fight against the virus, and questioning the true origins of the virus) yet this latest article seems to be doing the work of China’s propaganda machine, by claiming that despite a “deeply flawed early response to the outbreak” China’s “autocratic government acted with ferocious intensity after the belated start.” While China was allegedly acting “with ferocious intensity,” the United States, they said, “remained preoccupied with business as usual. Impeachment. Harvey Weinstein. Brexit and the Oscars.”
The Democrats may have been distracted by impeachment, and maybe Americans were talking more about Weinstein, Brexit, and the Oscars, but, immediately after the World Health Organization was informed, the United States took action, restricting travel with China and implementing screening at airports. By January 20, a vaccine was already in development. By the end of January, a Coronavirus Task Force was established and Trump banned travel with China — a move that experts agree saved lives.
Despite these facts, The New York Times, acting as a propagandist for the Chinese governments, hypes China’s response to the virus as a well-oiled machine, even though the virus was spreading around the world for at least three weeks before China made any efforts to contain it, before accusing the United States of being blindsided and unready.
Cellphone videos leaking out of China showed what was happening as it spread in Wuhan: dead bodies on hospital floors, doctors crying in frustration, rows of unattended coffins outside the crematories.
What the cameras missed — in part because Beijing made Western journalists’ lives difficult by withholding visas and imposing quarantines — was the slow, relentless way China’s public health system was hunting down the virus, case by case, cluster by cluster, city by city.
For now, at least, China has contained the coronavirus with draconian measures. But the pathogen had embarked on a Grand Tour of most countries on Earth, with devastating epidemics in Iran, Italy, France. More videos emerged of prostrate victims, exhausted nurses and lines of coffins.
The United States, which should have been ready, was not.
A Johns Hopkins study from late 2019 actually found that the United States was the most prepared country in the world to handle a pandemic. Further, claims that Trump cut funding to the CDC and the NIH and dissolved the White House pandemic response office have all been proven false. Shortages of medical supplies, like the N95 respirator masks, can actually be traced back to the Obama administration, which depleted the Strategic National Stockpile and never replenished it.
China couldn’t ask for better propaganda than the New York Times is pushing.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis