On The Listening Post this week: Brazil’s President Bolsonaro and COVID-19 misinformation. Plus, how well has the WHO performed as a key information source during the pandemic?
Brazil’s Bolsonaro: Turning COVID-19 denial into media spectacle
A president at odds with his advisers and scientists over COVID-19, who has said the virus is no worse than the flu, and whose supporters accuse the media of hyping up the story. Not Donald Trump, but Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.
Even as deaths in Brazil surpass China, President Bolsonaro continues to downplay the pandemic. After firing his health minister, he went on to attend a “protest” demanding military intervention to lift the lockdown. He also has the support of two of Brazil’s biggest media players, Record TV and SBT. Whether Bolsonaro is in denial, or just playing politics, they are standing firmly by his side.
Andrew Fishman – Managing editor, The Intercept Brasil
Gustavo Ribeiro – Founder, Brazilian Report
Bob Fernandes – Journalist and commentator
Leonardo Custodio – Postdoctoral researcher, Abo Akademi University
On our radar:
Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Meenakshi Ravi about a media storm in Pakistan, where a religious leader turned a televised coronavirus fundraiser into an attack on the broadcasters.
Who holds WHO accountable?
COVID-19 is the biggest news story most of us have ever seen. Of all the institutions responsible for getting information out, the World Health Organization (WHO) may be the most vital.
The WHO is a specialised agency of the United Nations borne out of the recognition that no single country can manage a global outbreak, and that an international health body is needed to rise above the politics of national interests.
In this pandemic, however, the WHO has been accused of falling short of its mandate and was unable to act independently in accessing and assessing the outbreak. The WHO was only granted access to Wuhan in mid-February. And not only did it fail to verify the early information on COVID-19 coming out of China, but it amplified it by repeating Chinese misinformation.
On January 14, the WHO tweeted that there was “no proof of human-to-human transmission” of the coronavirus. But at the time, media in Hong Kong and other countries, were already comparing the virus to SARS and saying it was most likely transmitting from people to people.
The Listening Post‘s producer Nic Muirhead reports on the WHO, and how one of the most important news sources in the world may be compromised.
Lawrence Gostin – Director, O’Neill Institute, Georgetown University
Osman Dar – Global Health Programme, Chatham House
Stephen Buranyi – Journalist, The Guardian
Rana Mitter – Director, China Centre, Oxford University
Source: Al Jazeera News
Katai Leaves Galaxy After Wife’s Racial Social Media Posts… – Mount Royal Soccer
You would hope that the Katai’s weren’t looking forward to an extended stay on America’s west coast.
If they were it’s all been scuppered by some strongly-worded Instagram posts from the player’s wife, Tea in which she called for people to kill protestors, which she referred to as ‘disgusting cattle’.
Now the former Alaves and Red Star Belgrade midfielder and his club have parted ways.
The Galaxy released a statement condemning Tea’s since-deleted comments on Wednesday saying…
“Earlier today, the LA Galaxy were made aware of a series of racist and violent social media posts by Tea Katai, the wife of LA Galaxy midfielder Aleksandar Katai.
“The LA Galaxy stands firmly against racism of any kind, including that which suggests violence or seeks to demean the efforts of those in pursuit of racial equality.”
The player for his part had come out strongly following the comments, distancing himself from his spouse’s posts, although accepting full responsibility.
“These views are not ones that I share and are not tolerated in my family.
“Racism, particularly toward the black community, is not only prevalent in the United States and Europe, but across the globe. I strongly condemn white supremacy, racism and violence towards people of color. Black lives matter. This is a mistake from my family and I take full responsibility.
“I will ensure that my family and I take the necessary actions to learn, understand, listen and support the black community.
“I understand that it will take time to earn back the support of the people of Los Angeles. I am committed to putting in the necessary work to learn from these mistakes and be a better ally and advocate for equality going forward. I am sorry for the pain these posts have caused the LA Galaxy family and all allies in the fight against racism.”
It was not enough to save his LA Galaxy career with the club yesterday producing a terse and final statement confirming Katai’s departure…
“The LA Galaxy have mutually agreed to part with midfielder Aleksander Katai.”
While Tea Katai’s comments are totally and unequivocally unacceptable, you wonder if the player himself has been treated fairly by the club. He did clearly distance himself from the comments, explaining they were not representative of his own views, and in fact verbally came out in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.
Is it right that a player’s future at a football club can be determined in this way by comments, no matter how disgusting, made by another family member, which in the days of social media he had very little, if any, control over?
Katai has ‘accepted full responsibility’, but it must be acknowledged that was part of a carefully worded statement providing apology and certainly designed to prolong his short LA career.
Or is it correct that the former Chicago Fire player is ‘found guilty by association’ and was rightly dismissed?
What do Impact fans think? Would you have expected Montreal Impact to fire a player under the same circumstances?
Are the LA Galaxy right in dispensing with the services for Aleksander Katai due to his wife’s unacceptable Instagram posts?
Yes 100%. He has to go…
Not sure. It’s a grey area. I’m on the fence and think getting rid of the player is too harsh a punishment.
100% No. Katai should not be held accountable for the social media interactions of his wife or any other family member.
7 votes total
GOLDSTEIN: Media deliberately distorted what Trump said about George Floyd – Toronto Sun
Contrary to a globally reported blunder by the media on Friday, President Donald Trump did not say a positive report on U.S. job numbers was “good news for George Floyd.”
Here’s what Trump said:
“Equal justice under the law must mean that every American receives equal treatment in every encounter with law enforcement regardless of race, color, gender, or creed. They have to receive fair treatment from law enforcement. They have to receive it. We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen.
“Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ It’s a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality. It’s really what our Constitution requires and it’s what our country is all about.”
Clearly, Trump’s reference to Floyd was in the context of Americans agreeing everyone must be treated equally by police, not optimistic U.S. job numbers.
Despite their obvious blunder about what Trump said, which quickly went global and erupted on social media, few media organizations have corrected it.
Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden, reacting to the inaccurate media reports, said what Trump said was “despicable.”
Some are now arguing it was outrageous for Trump to invoke Floyd’s name — he died in police custody, with the four fired police officers involved now facing a slew of major criminal charges — in any context.
But that deliberately ignores the point, which is that the media got the story wrong.
In another controversy involving Trump, a widely-circulated medical study published in the Lancet claiming patients with COVID-19 were more likely to die or suffer serious side effects from taking hydroxychloroquine has been retracted.
Based on this research, Trump was widely attacked for recommending the use of hydroxychloroquine and saying he was taking it himself to ward off COVID-19.
Trump should not be freelancing medical advice and it was dangerous for him to do so.
But as James Heathers, a research scientist at Boston’s Northeastern University, writing in the Guardian, observed, the retraction of the research paper is also alarming and potentially dangerous.
As Heathers wrote:
“The Lancet is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world. Recently, they published an article on Covid patients receiving hydroxychloroquine with a dire conclusion: the drug increases heartbeat irregularities and decreases hospital survival rates. This result was treated as authoritative, and major drug trials were immediately halted — because why treat anyone with an unsafe drug?
“Now, that Lancet study has been retracted, withdrawn from the literature entirely, at the request of three of its authors who ‘can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.’
“Given the seriousness of the topic and the consequences of the paper, this is one of the most consequential retractions in modern history.
“How did a paper of such consequence get discarded like a used tissue by some of its authors only days after publication? If the authors don’t trust it now, how did it get published in the first place?”
Heathers says the root problem is with the peer review process which, “at its worst … is merely window dressing that gives the unwarranted appearance of authority, a cursory process which confers no real value, enforces orthodoxy, and overlooks both obvious analytical problems and outright fraud entirely.”
Saskatoon police officer put on paid leave over 'harmful and offensive' social media posts – Saskatoon StarPhoenix
Article content continued
“I want to assure the public that we take these complaints seriously. We have acted swiftly to address the issue and a thorough investigation will occur.”
The Saskatoon Police Association, the union that represents police officers in the city, said it will not be commenting at this time since the investigation is active.
The board of directors of Saskatoon Pride, in a Facebook post, said Cooper personally contacted the organization to inform it about the posts.
The organization said the posts are not just hurtful to the city’s 2SLGBTQ+ community, but to the entire community, and “are not worthy of someone charged with upholding the law and protecting the community.”
“It is a sad day for Saskatoon that, in the midst of outrage over the racist and criminal acts committed by police against the BIPOC community across the continent and during a month meant to celebrate diversity, inclusion and Pride, there is a member of the Saskatoon police force who would feel that they were entitled to express such bigoted views, while claiming to uphold the law and serve the public,” Saskatoon Pride’s board wrote.
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