by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The coronavirus crisis is a make-or-break moment for the American media.
According to Wednesday’s Gallup poll on the coronavirus response, “Hospitals Rated Best, News Media Worst.” The survey shows that 44% of the public says the media has been doing “a good job.” This is high considering how the press fares in normal times, but let’s be honest: It can’t be comforting to a press corps that has been persistently adversarial to Donald Trump that it ranks 16 points lower than the approval of the president’s own handling of the crisis.
Predictably, some of the media’s worst tendencies, such as myopic concerns about political correctness and electoral politics, have often defined coverage of a public health crisis. At the same time, however, many news outlets are finding their voice and rallying around coverage that is unifying and informative. It would be a shame if the errors and predictable bias drowned out many laudable, even heroic, media efforts. …
… In retrospect, it’s hard to deny the mainstream media’s initial downplaying of the threat was very wrong, or that it was partly a result of kneejerk antipathy to the Trump administration’s travel ban – which in retrospect looks like a prescient move.
The good news, for the media at least, is that as the threat has become more serious, elements of the media are rising to the occasion. The politically motivated contrarianism is giving way to the kind of serious analysis and in-depth reporting the moment demands.