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Shameful media still slamming Donald Trump during coronavirus crisis: Goodwin – New York Post

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The coronavirus epidemic is shaking humanity and turning the world upside down. Quick, somebody alert the media.

The Washington press corps is covering one of the largest, continuing stories in recent history the same way it has covered the Trump administration since Day One.

The formula is simple: Whatever the president does is not just wrong, it’s borderline evil. Details at 11.

In the real world, events are unfolding at a pace and scale impossible to comprehend. But at too many news outlets, the aim is not to inform. It’s to render the harshest possible judgment on the man journalists love to hate.

Already The New York Times has twice called the White House response “calamitous,” including once in a supposedly straight-news article.

This is beyond shameful. When antagonists like Sen. Chuck Schumer finally are working with Trump and when the Democratic governors of New York and California swap praise with the president over their partnerships, the media ought to take a hint that this time is different and there is no place for biased journalism-as-usual.

Instead, after failing to bring down Trump with Russia, Russia, Russia and impeachment, they’re now putting their chips on the narrative that he’s bungling the public health crisis.

To get there, they’ve had to reverse themselves on a key allegation. For three years the same media told us Trump was a fascist and a budding Hitler, but now his refusal to rule with an iron fist is also cause for condemnation.

Suddenly, the man whose “Authoritarian style is remaking America” (Washington Post), and whose “Authoritarian Ambitions” were exposed by impeachment (New York magazine), foolishly refuses to use the powers of the Oval Office. As usual, other countries are doing it right and America is wrong.

When Trump advised people to stop unnecessary travel and avoid bars, restaurants and groups of more than 10, a Times headline moaned that the “Guidelines Fall Short of the Mandates in Other Countries.”

The Gray Lady’s latest complaints involve the Defense Protection Act, which gives the president the authority to commandeer private industry. But he’s a lousy authoritarian because, as the Times put it Friday, “Trump Resists Pressure to Force Companies to Make Coronavirus Supplies.”

Behind every complaint is a roster of anonymous sources and Obama administration grousers.

Meanwhile, because of its one-track agenda, the media are missing one of the biggest stories — the sense of unity against the epidemic being forged across America.

Even Dem presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders largely slipped out of sight, a welcome sign that they realize now is not the time to try to score political points.

And the public, despite the media, gets it that the president is doing his best against an unprecedented and invisible enemy. Polls reflect a belief that, after a slow start, Trump is mobilizing an enormous national response involving both the public and private sectors and is committed to victory.

An ABC News/Ipsos survey released Friday finds 55 percent approve of the president’s leadership, while 43 percent disapprove. Those figures are a reversal from a week earlier, when 43 percent approved and 54 percent disapproved.

Of course, to recognize this shift in the national mood would mean the media would have to give Trump credit, and that is forbidden. Stark polarization is what the media like and want — and refuse to see anything else.

Tellingly, the more information and access Trump gives the White House press corps, the angrier the members get. The president and his team provide daily updates, announce new efforts and take numerous questions.

While many of the questions try to flesh out details, virtually every day there is also an obvious “Gotcha” effort. Frustrated by Trump’s refusal to surrender to their superior intelligence, his inquisitors, graduates of the Jim Acosta school of journalism, end up berating and arguing with him.

One day there were repeated assertions thinly disguised as questions about why the president continues to call the virus the “Chinese virus.” Doesn’t he realize that’s racist?

His answers were to the point: “That’s where it came from” and “Everybody knows it came from China.”

As some commentators noted, the questions parroted a talking point of the Chinese Communist Party. That makes this a case of Trump Derangement Syndrome with a coronavirus twist.

It’s also a clear case of China trying to meddle in our elections. Once upon a time, the media cared about that.

Friday’s briefing featured Trump scolding NBC reporter Peter Alexander, with others in the room defending Alexander.

The sequence was revealing, with Alexander firing off questions faster than Trump could answer. Alexander first tried to drive a wedge between the president and Dr. Anthony Fauci, suggesting they were at odds over whether new treatment drugs could represent a breakthrough.

As Trump downplayed any differences, Alexander fired an insult posing as a question, saying, “Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things may be giving Americans a false sense of hope?”

Again, Trump answered, saying “No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so,” only to be interrupted with another Alexander question. Alexander finally let Trump answer, then changed course again, asking “So, what do you say to Americans who are scared, I guess? Nearly 200 dead and 14,000 who are sick and millions as you witness who are scared right now, what do you say to Americans who are watching you right now who are scared?”

Trump finally had enough, saying “you are a terrible reporter, that’s what I say. I think it’s a very nasty question. I think it’s a very bad signal that you are putting out to the American people. They’re looking for answers and they’re looking for hope. And you’re doing sensationalism . . .”

Naturally, that became a big story for CNN and the other usual suspects. Mission accomplished.

There is much talk that the coronavirus epidemic will permanently alter aspects of American life. Let us hope that a new and improved journalism is among the changes.

Putz’s cheap shots 

Reader Robert Pilgrim is among those panning the performance of Mayor Bill de Blasio. He writes: “I watched Mayor Putz squander an opportunity to display leadership in a time of crisis. He chose instead to take shots at President Trump. If this is not the height of incompetence, I don’t know what is.

De Blasio says he needs help from Trump. If you need someone’s help, a cheap shot is NOT the way to get it.”

Bloomy’s ‘$tiff’-arm 

Michael Bloomberg spent more than $900 million on his brief presidential fantasy, and now people who worked for him are paying the price. Politico reports that “staffers who were promised jobs through November no matter what” are getting fired by the hundreds.

Integrity wasn’t in the budget.

Tom Brady leaves Patriots for Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Finally, big news that doesn’t involve sickness and death.

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Social media both a blessing and a curse during coronavirus pandemic – KitchenerToday.com

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This article, written by S. Harris Ali, York University, Canada and Fuyuki Kurasawa, York University, Canada, originally appeared on The Conversation and has been republished here with permission:

We are facing an unprecedented crisis of public understanding. Western digital corporations and social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Reddit) and their Chinese equivalents (WeChat, Weibo, Tencent and Toutiao) are at the heart of this crisis. These platforms act as facilitators and multipliers of COVID-19-related misinformation.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), noted that urgent measures must now be taken to address the “coronavirus infodemic.”

This infodemic compromises outbreak response and increases public confusion about who and what information sources to trust; generates fear and panic due to unverified rumours and exaggerated claims; and promotes xenophobic and racist forms of digital vigilantism and scapegoating.

Governments, public health authorities and digital corporations need to not only promote digital literacy, but combat ways in which the impact of social media may be spawning an irreversible post-truth age, even after the COVID-19 pandemic dissipates.

Misinformation during outbreaks

Misinformation has been pervasive in other recent large-scale outbreaks. In the 2018 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, suspicions were raised when the ruling government cancelled national elections in Ebola-affected areas, eliminating opposition votes.

Rumours are a second form of misinformation. One popular conspiracy theory held that the virus was developed as a means to wage a biological war against China. In China, a rumour spread that bioweapons research in a Wuhan laboratory resulted in the genetic engineering of COVID-19 that was then released. Such rumours may have even jeopardized the working relationship between Western scientists and their Chinese counterparts searching for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Untrue, exaggerated and dubious medical claims and hoaxes are other common forms of misinformation. Various unproven natural and traditional remedies were proffered as cures to both Ebola and COVID-19, such as drinks that contained mint and spices like saffron and turmeric that spread in Iran through Twitter.

Influencing outbreak outcomes

During times of emergency and disaster, urgent questions arise and require immediate response. The problem is that officials don’t consistently provide the accurate information that’s required very quickly.

A post-truth society is one in which subjective opinions and unverified claims rival valid scientific and biomedical facts in their public influence. The need for evidence to support reasoned arguments becomes downplayed, while at the same time, the social norm concerning how and why people should be held accountable for what they say is weakened.

Scientists and other experts ultimately lose social legitimacy and authority in the eyes of the public because what they bring to the table is no longer valued.

When complex emergencies arise, public officials are cautious about making premature pronouncements, instead carefully crafting statements to ensure accuracy and avoid the pitfalls of misinterpretation and exaggeration. Somewhat paradoxically, this careful approach may also contribute to the formation of an information vacuum that rumours and falsehoods are all too ready to fill.

In the digital age, the time needed to analyze, assess and communicate information cannot compete with the instantaneous spreading of misinformation on social media platforms.

The impact of social media misinformation may be even more pronounced because of confirmation bias, the tendency to accept statements that reinforce our established views and to downplay statements that counter these views.

Misinformation & xenophobia

Racist content spread through social media may reinforce already pre-existing biases and prejudices. Xenophobic reactions that emerged during the 2003 SARS outbreaks in Toronto, amongst other cities, are being repeated during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s different now is how easily social media can fuel this behaviour. A particularly poignant illustration is a viral WeChat rumour that a particular Chinese restaurant in Canada employed someone with COVID-19 and that health officials had closed the restaurant. The restaurant lost 80 per cent of its revenue.

Social media also facilitates a form of prejudiced collective organizing that, similar to crowdsourcing, rapidly enlists a large number of people, yet does so on the basis of questionable claims and beliefs. An online petition compiled by 8,000 people north of Toronto demanded that the school board ban students whose family members had recently travelled to China from attending school.

The information vacuum

During the early stages of the 2003 SARS outbreak in China, people shared information about the outbreak through simple text messaging. Despite efforts by the government to not share information about the outbreak with the WHO, information about “atypical pneumonia” circulated widely.

With COVID-19, the Chinese state’s censorship of and control over online content created an information vacuum. Despite this, citizens have used social media to express veiled criticism of government mismanagement and lack of government accountability.

During the early stages of the outbreak, before the Chinese government was releasing any information, ophthalmologist Li Wenliang — a whistleblower for COVID-19 — posted messages on the spread of a SARS-like illness. As screenshots of his posts went viral, he was disciplined by local police for promoting “untrue speech.” Li died of complications from the virus on Feb. 7, 2020.

News of his death dominated Chinese social media, with a flurry of messages expressing grief as well as anger directed at the government. “Dr. Li Wenliang passed away” became the top search record on Weibo. State censors intervened to remove posts on Li’s death, but public outrage led to increased demands for free speech and greater information transparency from the government.

By contrast, as the outbreak intensifies, social media has taken on new and increased importance with the large-scale implementation of social distancing, quarantine measures and lockdowns of complete cities. Social media platforms have become a way to enable homebound people survive isolation and seek help, co-ordinate donations, entertain and socialize with each other.

Global communications

The frequency of disease outbreaks like the one we’re currently witnessing will increase, given the ways in which connections between human beings and nature continue to intensify.

Pandemics will require co-ordinated global response strategies. Digital corporations and social media platforms can and must be at the heart of these strategies, since their responses and willingness to collaborate with governments and public health officials will determine whether social media is viewed as a beneficial or pathological vector of pandemic response.

At present, it’s imperative to develop policies and mechanisms that address the digital creation and spread of misinformation about disease outbreaks. To do this will require that biomedical knowledge about pandemics be supplemented by expertise about their social, political and cultural underpinnings.

Without that understanding, efforts to contain COVID-19 will be hindered by “spreading unnecessary panic and confusion, and driving division, when solidarity and collaboration are key to saving lives and ending the health crisis.”

S. Harris Ali, Professor, Sociology, York University, Canada and Fuyuki Kurasawa, York Research Chair in Global Digital Citizenship, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, York University, Canada

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Dr. Bonnie Henry fan clubs pop up on social media – Burnaby Now

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You may not have heard of her before this pandemic, but you definitely know her now.

Dr. Bonnie Henry is the provincial health officer who has been leading the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in BC. She has been delivering the sombre statistics during daily updates on the virus spread in the province, as well as providing instructions and answers on how to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

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She has accumulated a cult following of fans who are very happy to voice their appreciation for Henry’s work.

There are now Dr. Bonnie Henry Fan Clubs that have popped up on Facebook and Twitter, that allow users to post and share how much they appreciate Dr. Henry and all of her work. The fan club Twitter account mostly posts updates when Henry is about to speak, or retweets posts from the public on their various thoughts about the health officer.

The Facebook group seems to be a little more on the wild side, pondering everything from Dr. Henry’s age to her relationship status. But nevertheless, every post in the group is steadfastly behind the provincial health officer, and everything she has done to keep the public informed.

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Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert – Campbell River Mirror

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Amidst time of crisis, people around the world are in a hurry to find accurate information, but sometimes it’s not always there.

In times like these before technology, people around the would flood to a trusted news source to get the latest information. Now, even legacy news sources, mass media institutions that predominated the Information Age, are using social media to reach their readers.

A B.C. expert in communications is warning the public to check their sources and ensure what they’re reading is accurate, to help reduce the spread of misinformation.

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” said professor and director of Simon Fraser University’s School of Communication, Peter Chow-White, in an interview March 18.

“It’s a (curse) because on the one hand there’s a lot of information out there, it’s hard to know – you have to sort of sift through a lot of it to figure out what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s real and what’s not.

“The blessing of social media is that the information gets delivered very quickly to our home, so we can react much faster than we normally would around these sorts of things.

Additionally, in order to navigate through crisis, he says the public needs to practice being information and media literate.

“It’s huge on the individual these days,” explained Chow-White.

“This is sort of a place where legacy news comes back into play and becomes more important than ever.”

READ MORE: Canadian coronavirus update: EI applications surge by 500,000, borders about to close

READ MORE: ‘Spreading rumours doesn’t do anyone any good’ re: COVID-19

With thousands of news sources and websites reporting on the pandemic, and some reporting on a crisis for the first time, the professor says the accuracy of information reaching people’s news feeds can be lost.

“It’s just not their traditional domain,” he said.

Social contagion, he explained, operates very similarly to viral contagion; there is a network effect, and social media amplifies this.

“It amplifies that (misinformation) and creates fear and panic in people’s minds without giving them the oportunity and the information to understand the context; how to mitiage that fear itself.

“In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable.”

Earlier this month, Black Press Media reported that an Interior Health medical officer condemed an article published by an Okanagan media outlet. The article included a “projected death” calculation that upwards of 5,800 people in the Okanagan could die from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The media outlet since issued a public apology.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Medical health officer condemns ‘alarmist’ article

Chow-White says since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, some information hasn’t been properly communicated.

“It would have been good to have messaging around – you don’t need a ton of toilet paper, and you don’t need it for two years. That’s a good case of how information gets delivered improperly and the narrative takes over instead of the science.”

READ MORE: Costco bans return of hoarded items, including toilet paper

READ MORE: Horgan ‘profoundly disappointed’ by panic buying

However he added, there are many benefits to society tackling a crisis during the Information Age, thanks in part to social media.

“Social media becomes critical in communication. People need to be able to go to Twitter and have the algorithms push the information that is most important and that is the most trustworthy,” said Chow-White.

“Even though people are managing their own feeds, Twitter and Facebook have a social responsibility in these moments as well.”

Social media companies have had to act quick in their response to misinformation but also access to facts since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

For Facebook, that includes banning ads that capitalize on fears, putting more funds into fact-checking resources to comb out the false claims about treatments, and removing all non-official COVID-19 accounts from Facebook and Instagram.

Twitter has pledged to relaunch its profile verification program to help identify authoritative voices in its attempt to ensure facts are being seen by users first and foremost.

Even Snapchat, which is used mainly by younger demographics, has added a dedicated section on its app for COVID-19 news.

Not a B.C. conversation, but a global one

Chow-White furthered that the current COVID-19 situation isn’t a B.C. conversation; it’s a global conversation which works at multiple levels. These include local, national and international levels.

Over the last month, several events have reinforced why Chow-White believes the internet is an uneven approach to following information by leadership, in the context of global information.

Referencing the topic of flattening the curve, moving from a mitigation strategy to a containment strategy, he says this wasn’t done particularly well in Canada, and especially B.C.

“An example of that is – the Ministry of Education on Friday (March 13) announced that there’s no reason to close schools – and it’s good to keep them open… completely contradicting what the rest of the world is doing.

“Ninety-six hours (later), they reverse into a 180.”

B.C. has been hosting afternoon news briefings on Monday to Friday and at noon on Saturday – streamed by all TV stations but also broadcasted live on the government’s social media channels. These briefings include a daily case count, any provincial orders delivered by B.C.’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and a question-and-answer portion for reporters.

Such provincial orders have included a ban on large gatherings – initially for events with more than 250 attendees but which has since been lowered to 50 guests – shutting down bars an dnightclubs and banning dine-in guests at restaurants.

But the ban on gatherings has proven just how difficult it is to get messaging quickly to thousands of provincial citizens. Days after Henry announced the order, people were still spotted on social media hosting weddings and other events.

READ MORE: Weddings, big gatherings have to stop, B.C.’s COVID-19 doctor says

Henry has spent much of her daily briefings reminding the public that the ban may be on gatherings of more than 50, but that doesn’t mean that 45 attendees or even 20 or 10 makes anyone less at-risk of contracting the virus.

In fact, she has since urged people to stay indoors and if they go outside only go with the people you live with and in grous of no more than one or two – and most importantly, stay six feet apart.

The province unveiled this week that under the current state of emergency, bylaw officers are now being enabled to enforce government restrictions.

On Friday, March 27, Henry unveiled what she called ‘cautious optimism’ that the various contact restrictions had nearly halved the potential transmission.

That report sparked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to remind the public that while “an excellent sign,” the news offered even more of a reason for people to continue listening to advice of health officials.

“If we are seeing a reduction in the spikes, then that shows it is working but that means we need to continue what we are doing,” he said.

Unevennes has since evened out, says expert

Canada, Chow-White explained, is among the third wave of areas hit, following Asia and Italy. Currently, the U.S. is dealing with the most cases in the world right now, as China has started to see a drastic reprieve.

Iran, he said, has been one of the hardest hit areas.

Last week pictures surfaced online of football-field sized mass graves, taken from space.

“If that was a first-world country, then we’d be a lot more panicked. But we tend to ignore these sorts of things in the global north, unfortunately. Not everybody mind you, but a lot of people,” he said.

“If there was some sort of connection between that and us, a little more force through the last week, we wouldn’t have people walking around outside right now, casually wondering why they can’t go out for St. Patty’s Day.

“I’m not trying to make light of it, I’m just trying to illustrate a lag and an unevenness.”

Thankfully, he said, that unevenness had since evened out. He says people are getting it, and they’re staying home.

READ MORE: Elderly Penticton couple reflect on leaving Philippines, entering self-quarantine

READ MORE: COVID-19: BC Parks to suspend camping, access to some facilities

@PentictonNews
editor@pentictonwesternnews.com

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