Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
When Rep. Ben McAdams tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized, there was very little interest even though the Utah Democrat was one of the first House members to suffer from serious symptoms. But the media would rather tell punitive coronavirus allegories about people who not only got the virus but, in their telling, deserved to get it for their political sins. Like Republicans.
That’s why when Rep. Louie Gohmert tested positive, without actually having any symptoms, the national media pounced on the story with headlines that emphasized the false claim that the Texas Republican had not been wearing a mask, even though he actually did wear a mask at House sessions.
“Anti-Mask Louie Gohmert Tests Positive,” the New York Times gloated. “Rep. Louie Gohmert, who often went without a mask, tests positive for the coronavirus,” NBC News chittered. “Texas Republican Rep. Gohmert Tests Positive For Coronavirus After Rebuffing Masks,” NPR scolded.
The implication is that Rep. Gohmert’s skepticism about masks somehow led to him testing positive.
Or, as a Washington Examiner editorial hectored, “Louie Gohmert case provides a lesson on masks.”
Does it? None of the media outlets prone to sneeringly fact-checking Republicans and to accusing President Trump of having told ten-thousand lies since last Tuesday, have any idea how Rep. Gohmert came to contract the virus. Did he contract it when he was or wasn’t wearing a mask?
A number of other members of the House and the Senate have tested positive for the virus. Like Rep. McAdams. Did testing positive for the virus prove that he’s a bad man, or is that only Republicans?
Facts are tedious things that journalists used to be interested in before they got into hatebait.
The unmistakable point of the Gohmert story is that bad people don’t wear masks and therefore get the virus. The story is even better if those people are Republicans who questioned the utility of masks.
When Bill Montgomery, a senior adviser to Turning Point USA, passed away at the age of 80 from coronavirus complications, media hatebait pieces lambasted Charlie Kirk, the group’s leader, for questioning the effectiveness of masks, as if that had something to do with Montgomery’s death.
“Bill Montgomery, co-founder of pro-Trump, Turning Point USA, scoffed at virus. Died of Covid,” CNN’s Ana Navarro tweeted.
Media hatebait implicitly depicts the virus as an agent punishing those who scoff at the expert class. Back when the expert class was warning everyone not to wear masks, the virus was singling out and punishing those who went to church or protested for statewide reopenings by infecting them.
“‘ReOpen NC’ activist tests positive for coronavirus”, “Co-founder of Maryland group that protested for state to reopen tests positive for coronavirus”, and “Pastor Who Defied Social Distancing Dies After Contracting Virus” are typical examples of media narratives that depict the virus as a punitive force.
In a country where over 5 million people have tested positive and over 150,000 people have died, the hatebait selects a handful of political opponents and makes them into the faces of the pandemic.
Leftists would claim that such a message is justified and deserved, until they’re asked whether it also applies to African-Americans who are dying of the virus at three times the rate of white people.
But, just as in the tale of two congressmen who tested positive, it’s different when you hate them.
While the media blew up every single Reopen activist diagnosis, all two of them, into national news stories, the reports of Black Lives Matter activists coming down with the virus don’t get that treatment.
You have to dig pretty deep to learn that four organizers at South Carolina rallies by the Black Lives Matter hate group had become infected. If they had been Reopen protesters, you would have heard about it on CNN, read about it in the Washington Post, and seen it blow up all over social media.
Instead the media is still loudly claiming that there’s no evidence that the massive Black Lives Matter protests in high-risk cities, among high-risk populations, in which thousands of extremists clumped closely together were shouting at the top of their lungs, could have spread the virus.
If a conservative had suggested such a thing, he would have been dubbed a dangerous conspiracy theorist and a danger to public health who needed to be urgently censored by Facebook and YouTube.
But, as usual, it’s different when the Democrat media does it.
Question the effectiveness of wearing a mask and you’re a terrible person and a public health risk. But loudly assert that the virus doesn’t spread at social justice rallies and you’re just following the “science”.
Some science. Somewhere.
An ISIS magazine recently urged that “every brother and sister, even children, can contribute to Allah’s cause by becoming the carriers of this disease” and spread it to non-Muslims “so that they are forced to bow down before Allah’s rule before they are wiped out from the earth.” Those Muslims worrying that virus suicide bombing might kill them are assured that, “no disease can harm even a hair of a believer.”
This is the same logic that the Washington Post uses to claim that BLM protests can’t spread the virus.
It is readily apparent to hatebait lefties that bad beliefs spread the virus. That’s why, even though California tops the virus charts, the media has been lambasting Florida’s Republican governor.
If a sharp increase in a virus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths mean political malpractice by state and local officials, then why has the media failed to take Governor Newsom or Mayor Garcetti to task?
California’s pandemic spike has been studiously minimized by the national media.
“Coronavirus ravaged Florida, as Ron DeSantis sidelined scientists and followed Trump,” the Washington Post headline howled. And, in another red state, “Georgia hospitals groan under COVID-19 assault.”
But what about California, which has the biggest numbers?
“California, Oregon roll back reopenings,” the Bezos paper timidly reports.
Hospitals in blue states don’t groan and aren’t ravaged even though the majority of deaths have taken place in blue states. Republican governors sideline scientists, Democrat governors roll back reopenings.
Coronavirus crushes red states for their folly, but only inconveniences good mask-wearers in blue states.
Even beyond the red and blue paradigm, media hatebait thrives. “They defied health rules for a SF wedding. The virus didn’t spare them,” a San Francisco Chronicle article gloated.
The story of a couple who insisted on marrying with 80 guests in a Catholic church that could seat 800, with blocked off pews, masks, and other precautions, quickly became viral hatebait that was recirculated by other media outlets scolding the couple who selfishly wanted a storybook wedding.
Except the wedding actually took place outside on a basketball court with people watching from their cars after a San Francisco official shut down the service in a dispute with the Catholic Church.
The article’s only evidence that the basketball ceremony spread the virus is that the couple, and eight guests tested positive. That might mean more if San Francisco hadn’t been in the middle of a major virus spike. In one part of the city, 8% of residents had tested positive. That’s similar to the wedding numbers.
“The potentially exposed guests flew back to Nashville, Arizona and San Diego, hot spots of the pandemic, potentially spreading the virus,” the Chronicle ominously informs readers.
But did they spread the virus or did they pick up the virus in those hot spots?
The media’s hatebaiters are uninterested in questions like these. Coronavirus hatebait stories are not built on facts: they use the façade of journalism for moral panics in a time when many are afraid.
As in the classic Twilight Zone episode, The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, the media shrieks that the monsters spreading the virus are coming. And they’re always different than us: teenagers partying on Florida beaches, Catholic couples marrying in a San Francisco church, or Chassidic Jews escorting the coffin of their beloved leader in Brooklyn. Unlike Black Lives Matter rioters or Latino meatpackers, they are the sorts of people that tolerant progressives are allowed and even encouraged to hate.
Believing that the virus is not politically neutral provides believers, whether they’re ISIS members or Washington Post subscribers, with a sense of control and a perverse feeling of triumph at the death toll. Wearing a mask has become a symbol of faith in an expert class which has failed miserably at every turn and immunity from a virus which media hatebait assures them can only strike wicked Republicans.
That’s why the smart set in California and New York are mingling at crowded parties whose participants expect the virus to kill all the Trump voters by Election Day because that’s what the hatebait tells them.
And it’s why Al Sharpton and 100,000 protesters from, among others, a teachers union and a postal workers union, will converge on Washington D.C. to crowd around the Lincoln Memorial for 6 hours.
It’s a good thing that they’re all politically immune to the virus.