Confused COVID messaging begins and ends in one place

Aug 3rd

By late Friday afternoon, it certainly appeared that the Biden White House was getting more than a little perturbed with their allies in the mainstream press. The administration's COVID communications team member Ben Wakana channeled his inner Donald Trump with an all-caps tweet directed towards The New York Times.

Yes, the same Times that regularly committed journalistic malpractice in a four-year effort to bring down President Trump and make something as thoroughly absurd as a "President Joe Biden" possible in the first place. What had Wakana worked into a lather was the Times' irresponsible reporting on the rate at which people vaccinated against COVID-19 transmit the Delta variant.

In addition to Wakana's freakout, Mediaite reported that two other administration officials complained to their propaganda ally, CNN's Oliver Darcy, that,

"The media's coverage doesn't match the moment. It has been hyperbolic and frankly irresponsible in a way that hardens vaccine hesitancy. The biggest problem we have is unvaccinated people getting and spreading the virus."

Far be it from me to ever defend our shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later clown-show media complex. The best thing that could happen to America would be to burn the entire industry to the ground. Wait, no, burn academia to the ground first, then the media. But with as much as Team Biden is right to complain about hyperbolic news reports that totally warp reality…

  • "Look at all the COVID breakthrough cases!"
  • "The vaccine isn't working against the Delta variant!"
  • "Vaccinated people are transmitting the virus, we need masks!"

…They have no one to blame but themselves for creating the conditions that make those types of headlines believable in the first place. If the administration truly believes that the vaccination effort is crucial, they continue to be their biggest enemy.

Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy tried to get clarification from the president on this very point. Doocy attempted to remind Biden that he had previously said a fully vaccinated person didn't need to wear a mask anymore, resulting in the president snapping back at him with a bald-faced lie: "I didn't say that." After correcting him, Doocy then pushed the president about his mask comments back in May. It didn't go well.

That's the epitome of mixed messaging and a dangerous lack of clarity that creates an environment of frustration for all Americans, vaccine-hesitant or not. It engenders rumors and empowers misinformation. When the authorities aren't authoritative and can't exude even the slightest degree of competence, there is no public trust. The vacuum that's created by a blundering Biden is filled with all sorts of voices, splintering an already polarized population into believing a million different theories.

And that problem is certainly not limited to the question of masks. If the president's statements in May were "true then" but aren't true now, what about his promise of no new lockdowns?

The president stressed he "wants to make it very clear," but time and again that's the precise opposite of what he and his COVID team are doing. The same day his deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre assures we are not headed towards a new lockdown, he contradicts her, forcing her to later change her tune and equivocate.

Asked whether the administration would support additional economic shutdowns if recommended by some scientists, Jean-Pierre signaled it would. "Well, like I said, we listen to the CDC and the experts and their guidance; the CDC is a body that is very well-respected," Jean-Pierre said.

That would be the same "very well-respected" body that told vaccinated teachers and students two weeks ago they did not need masks in the classroom this fall, and now has recommended full masking. In other words, mixed messaging is the order of the day in D.C.

So before critiquing the media's undeniable COVID buffoonery, maybe the Biden administration should first work on fixing their own?


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