Outlets across the left leaning media, from the Washington Post to Vogue, have called for networks to “stop broadcasting Trump’s dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings,” and for Americans to stop watching them. And now, Seattle’s NPR affiliate, KUOW, announced that they will no longer be airing coronavirus briefings live “due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.”
Reaction to this announcement came swiftly from the White House and social media. In an interview with the Daily Caller, White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said “It’s not surprising, but also a failure of their duty to the American people, that some media outlets would choose to block their audiences from receiving accurate, up-to-date information on President Trump’s whole-of-government approach to slowing the spread of COVID-19. No other Administration has been as transparent and as accessible as this one, and we will continue to make sure this Nation hears from its leaders and top health experts during this global pandemic.”
KUOW released a public statement “This action has caused some to question whether this decision was politically based. It was not.” The station claims it will review this decision daily. As a subsidiary of NPR, KUOW receives federal funding.
KUOW’s actions come as greater Seattle has been identified as one of the “hot spots” of the coronavirus in the US, along with California and New York. At time of writing, the Seattle area reported 123 deaths and 2,469 reported cases of the coronavirus.
The White House press conferences have come under fire for their accuracy as the press has tried to craft a narrative of a conflict between Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and President Trump.
This reached a climax this week when NBC news journalist Vaughn Hillyard reported that a man had died and his wife had been hospitalized for ingesting chloroquine phosphate which they learned about as a possible cure for the coronavirus from a White House briefing. It was revealed later that the couple had ingested a chemical compound meant for fish.
Polling for President Trump hit 50% this week for the first time in 2 years with 55% of Americans approving of his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
The KUOW announcement attracted backlash and support across the political spectrum. Glenn Greenwald, a journalist at The Intercept tweeted “The idea of not broadcasting what the President says in a crisis is absurd. Document his lies; counter his disinformation; investigate his claims; report the truth: that’s journalism. But suppressing what leaders say, even if false, is not journalism. It matters what he says.”
With open government laws being suspended in Washington state, many are concerned that this move by KUOW is part of a series of attacks on the First Amendment, and other constitutional rights.