It was pretty early in the pandemic that a small but vocal group of commentators and dissenters started pointing out what seemed pretty obvious: That face masks — flimsy, crummy paper things, or loose ill-fitting surgical covers, or moist, damp, filthy cotton masks — were obviously going to be ineffective at stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Well, of course we were shouted down, and vilified, and censored, and cast out of polite society. Nearly all of the mainstream media, meanwhile, were against us too. Here's a great representative article from late 2020 at The New York Times:
The public health debate on masks is settled, said Joseph G. Allen, director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard. When you wear a mask, "you protect yourself, you protect others, you prevent yourself from touching your face," he said. And you signal that wearing a mask is the right thing to do.
Ahh. It was "settled." Wearing a mask was "the right thing to do." Got it!
The most rigorous and comprehensive analysis of scientific studies conducted on the efficacy of masks for reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses — including Covid-19 — was published late last month. Its conclusions, said Tom Jefferson, the Oxford epidemiologist who is its lead author, were unambiguous.
"There is just no evidence that they" — masks — "make any difference," he told the journalist Maryanne Demasi. "Full stop."
But, wait, hold on. What about N-95 masks, as opposed to lower-quality surgical or cloth masks?
"Makes no difference — none of it," said Jefferson.
Hmm. Just a slight tonal shift there. Hard to detect unless you're looking for it.
Now, fair point: The Times article from this week is not straight-up news reporting but rather an opinion column.
Then again, the report from 2020 was also an opinion column, just one masquerading as a news report. So we're basically comparing apples to apples here.
So yes, the Times is shifting its coverage. They never would have let an opinion writer publish something like this even just last year. The masking cult has demanded near-total ideological conformity on this question since essentially the beginning of the pandemic. No dissent has been allowed.
They can no longer really ignore the growing body of official evidence that confirms what many of us already knew — that masking is useless — so they're softening their position on the issue, but of course they're too cowardly to actually report at length about it, so they've just relegated it to the opinion page as a face-saving measure.