The obvious, partisan, hypocritical coverage on gatherings


Gayatri Malhotra via Unsplash

Thousands of people gather in many of America’s big cities to celebrate Joe Biden being named president-elect by the media.

Sam McGrath, Business Manager

“The most trusted name in news” is the motto of CNN, who, along with other media outlets, is covering partisan gatherings in a completely different fashion from one another. In this COVID-19 pandemic, American citizens deserve a consistent and reliable media.

The mainstream media has been writing stories and covering politicians that label Trump rallies and religious gatherings as superspreader events. Nonetheless, they have an extremely different perspective when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM), anti-police protests and most recently the celebrations that came after they named former vice president Joe Biden the president-elect.

It is important to go back to the beginning when COVID-19 started spreading through the United States. Initially, churches, synagogues, schools, businesses and restaurants were all shut down. The United States government and the public did not know much about the virus, so it was generally safe to keep many things limited.

Then came the narrative of police brutality and systemic racism which led to protests and many riots. Pictures of people screaming in the faces of secret service and police officers, mass gatherings of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people were all results of these protests. Although someone could not go to their church for a weekly religious celebration, they could alternatively go scream in the face of public servants.

Many of the stories done by left wing outlets in the month of June drove a message that dodged the threat of COVID-19. On the other side of the spectrum, Fox News published a piece in early July recognizing that several local leaders of big cities, like Los Angeles’ Mayor Eric Garcetti, acknowledged that recent protests may be linked to COVID-19 spikes.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, referenced in the Fox News article, said the protests themselves were great ways to utilize our American freedom, but in these times protesters must stay distanced and take other safety precautions. According to the CDC, the highest-risk gatherings are “large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least six feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.”

The problem lies in the lack of consistency in the messages being sent, CNN published an article that informed the American public that BLM demonstrators believed protesting was worth the risk of COVID-19. However, days before, they published another article telling the religious community that the sanctions limiting their ability to practice their religion were not about religious freedom. Even though it was alright for protesters to brave through the pandemic, others were deterred from their usual ways of worship through threats of fines and other punishments.

Many Americans like Alyse Zuiderveen, junior and member of Coram Deo Bible Church, felt this kind of hypocrisy by the media firsthand. “For months, our church wasn’t open and yet individuals were gathering in large groups without social distancing to protest for their rights, often in violent manners,” Zuiderveen stated.

Similarly to the protests, the media has a different rhetoric when it comes to the recent celebrations for Joe Biden. The media recently declared former Vice President Biden as president-elect. While it appears that Biden has a clear path to the presidency, he will not be officially named president-elect until December, after every state gets certified and the electoral college goes through the process.

Once the media projected Biden would win the presidency, major crowds gathered in big cities all around the country. Many people were wearing masks, but many of these crowds violated CDC recommendations. The media “noted” the COVID-19 risks that were inevitable when that many people were gathered together violating social distancing guidelines and some not wearing masks properly.

The past few months the American people have listened to a media that has been labeling religious gatherings as spreaders of the virus and strongly condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to hold rallies, labeling them as superspreader events for COVID-19.

Their rhetoric toward these different events is what led many Americans on both sides of the aisle to start questioning the media. One of those Americans is senior Addie Menke who believes that citizens cannot solely rely on the media. “[T]he media has a lot of power over the American public and unless people seek out more information they will believe what the major media tells them,” she commented.

Menke went on to say the media tends to “turn a blind eye” in order to fit their narrative. This would explain why the media’s rhetoric tends to avoid the lack of distancing and masks at protests, but focuses on trying to prove that America has systemic racism and consistent police brutality. The media’s rhetoric toward the Biden celebrations simply notes the risks of COVID-19, but are more focused on the overwhelming support for the former vice president.

As Vice Chairman of the Scott County Teenage Republicans, Zuiderveen has seen how one-sided coverage can influence citizens. “It’s disappointing to hear that the large faults of a party are being ignored for the sake of nitpicking the other,” Zuiderveen said.

COVID-19 was a perfect opportunity to highlight the stories the media want to report on and ignore the ones they do not want to cover.

For example, the recent news coming out of Chicago for instance references Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, and her new approach to Thanksgiving. “Chicago mayor asks residents to cancel Thanksgiving plans and stay indoors as Covid cases rise,” one headline read. What many of these stories fail to mention is just a few days ago, the Chicago mayor participated in the huge gatherings that were a result of Joe Biden being named president-elect by the media. In that crowd most people were wearing masks, but they were all shoulder-to-shoulder next to the mayor who was not wearing a mask.

The media is driving many stories of democratic leaders and their new holiday suggestions and/or restrictions. This rhetoric leads the American people to believe that one side is taking the virus very seriously while the other side is advocating to open high-risk COVID-19 religious gatherings and hosting “superspreader” rallies.

Is it a smart idea to hold rallies during this COVID-19 crisis? No. Is it a smart idea to hold mass protests during this time of COVID-19? Also no. With that said, the media rhetoric is so one-sided that it is a blatant form of gaslighting against the American people.

The world is still experiencing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both parties have their faults. Both have held or refused to condemn gatherings that caused groups of people to come together. Both have gone against the science of the CDC guidelines. However, the media’s one-sided messages and suggestions are what lead the American public to believe one party radically ignores science and is solely responsible for the uptick in numbers. It is time to start reporting with good journalism.