The New York Times: (Re) Writing History and The Progressive Narrative

The Times’ lengthy article claiming that Trump is entirely responsible for all Wuhan virus illness and death in the U.S. is a tissue of lies and omissions.

To date, the left has failed to bury Trump and turn his Wuhan virus response into his version of Katrina.  So progressives now have a new line: Trump, they say, knew all about the virus and did nothing. To support that line, they are busy rewriting history.

I laid out the Wuhan Flu timeline through March 16, the day of  the “great hunkering.”  And do pay attention to the CDC numbers for cumulative Wuhan Flu cases and related deaths for each entry — it is illuminating.

To date, Trump has acted proactively. Not only did he make the “command decisions,” such as stopping the China travel ban and instituting mitigation, but almost as importantly, he cut through the red tape that almost paralyzed the FDA and CDC responses to testing and innovation, as well as involving the private sector, which can act more rapidly.

On April 8, relying on anonymous sources ABC reported that, by November 2019, U.S. intelligence knew of the virus in Wuhan; that the analysts determined that it was a “cataclysmic event”; and that they repeatedly briefed this information to “Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and the White House.”  It was a Bombshell. The only problem was that it was as reliable as a report on Russian collusion from Christopher Steele.  The next day, “Col. R. Shane Day, a medical doctor and director of the DIA’s National Center for Medical Intelligence,” issued a statement:

“As a matter of practice, the National Center for Medical Intelligence does not comment publicly on specific intelligence matters,” Day said. “However, in the interest of transparency during this current public health crisis, we can confirm that media reporting about the existence/release of a National Center for Medical Intelligence Coronavirus-related product/assessment in November of 2019 is not correct. No such NCMI product exists.”

ABC are amateurs at this stuff.  With a “hold my beer” strut, the New York Times made its COVID-19 narrative debut. They already know the kind of success they achieve when they rewrite history that counters their narrative.  Hell, if they can do it with the history of our nation with the obscene 1619 Project or with Joe Biden’s sexual assault history, rewriting the Wuhan Flu history ought to be a cinch.  That’s why the Times, on Sunday, had this as its front page lead “news”:

He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus:

An examination reveals the president was warned about the potential for a pandemic but that internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response.

It took six authors to create the work of historical fiction, many with names familiar from the Russia hoax:  Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Mark Mazzetti and Julian E. Barnes.  It is a tour de farce.

These “journalists” believe they are the omniscient narrator with God-like abilities to discern motivation, character and unspoken thought.  They also have some set phrases that carry them through. They describe every meeting as “chaotic,” they portray every expression of differing opinion as “rivalries and factionalism that routinely swirl around Mr. Trump” and, through it all, they portray Donald Trump as petty, bungling, incompetent, dishonest, and purely impulsive.  In place of facts, the authors substitute turgid prose normally reserved for particularly bad novels.  Along the way, they fail to mention key facts, ignore dates and, in lieu of facts, rely heavily on implication.  It’s not merely fake news, it’s bad writing.

The opening paragraphs are instructive.  The first four paragraphs are supposed to be a got’cha of the highest order.  The first three are the “set-up” and the fourth is the denouement that explains the mystery behind the preceding three paragraphs.  Let’s begin with that denouement:

“Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion,” President Trump said last month. He has repeatedly said that no one could have seen the effects of the coronavirus coming.  . . . Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.

Logic and good writing would say that this should be the opening, thesis paragraph, with examples to follow. The Times’ writers, however, chose to lead with the examples. As you read the three paragraphs that open the article and precede the above thesis, ask yourself if they support it:

“Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad,” a senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Carter Mecher, wrote on the night of Jan. 28, in an email to a group of public health experts scattered around the government and universities. “The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.”

A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing — a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives — Dr. Mecher was urging the upper ranks of the nation’s public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action.

“You guys made fun of me screaming to close the schools,” he wrote to the group, which called itself “Red Dawn,” an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion. “Now I’m screaming, close the colleges and universities.”

AHA.  See, somebody KNEW.  Maybe.  And they had a job in our government.  Somewhere.

Except . . . what special information did Mecher have to show that WHO and China were lying to the U.S.?  What specialized information did he have about the virus that showed how it was being transmitted and at what point a sufferer was infectious?  Did he even have proof of human-to-human transmission?  Anything?  What did he know about this virus that would make it different than SARS, MERS, H1N1, or any other particularly bad disease making the rounds of late?   Or is Mercher just a person prone to prophesizing cataclysm, as the third paragraph in the Times’ screed would suggest?  To understand just how much bullshit the article contains, although it is almost 32,000 words long, these first three paragraphs are the only time the article mentions Mecher.

Moreover, while the Times explicitly says Mercher sent his email on January 28, the article is silent about other salient facts regarding that date.  On January 28, the U.S. had only 5 known Wuhan virus cases, all travel related.  No one had died. There was no evidence yet that the virus spread through airborne transmission or community contact. The Times does not mention that this was only two weeks after China and WHO reported that there was no person-to-person transmission. China had just refused the Trump administration’s third request to send an infectious disease team into that country.  Also on January 28, WHO was thanking China for its cooperation about the virus, while Trump was enhancing airport screenings and instituting mandatory quarantines.  Two days later, Trump had created a White House Task Force to address the Wuhan Flu and, three days later, he shut down air travel with China.  Much later in the article, the Times does address Trump’s actions, but it does so in two very disingenuous ways.

First,  the reporters make no effort to ascertain how the travel ban affected the Wuhan flu’s progress in the U.S.  Instead, they offer a ridiculous criticism about travel restrictions in general, as opposed to these specific travel restrictions:

Travel restrictions were usually counterproductive to managing biological outbreaks because they prevented doctors and other much-needed medical help from easily getting to the affected areas, the health officials said. And such bans often cause infected people to flee, spreading the disease further.

That’s bad. Even worse is the Times’ second effort to avoid admitting that Trump acted proactively and effectively.  After all, the Times has a narrative to sell; namely, that the President has been failing in the Wuhan Flu battle because he is unable or unwilling to take needed actions.  So how does the Times square that narrative with the actual facts? By saying that Trump told Alex Azar, his Health and Human Services secretary, not to panic:

A few days later, on the evening of Jan. 30, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff at the time, and Mr. Azar called Air Force One as the president was making the final decision to go ahead with the restrictions on China travel. Mr. Azar was blunt, warning that the virus could develop into a pandemic and arguing that China should be criticized for failing to be transparent.

Mr. Trump rejected the idea of criticizing China, saying the country had enough to deal with. And if the president’s decision on the travel restrictions suggested that he fully grasped the seriousness of the situation, his response to Mr. Azar indicated otherwise.

Stop panicking, Mr. Trump told him.

That is stunning.  It is the equivalent of an advisory note from the Times to its readers: “Dear Times readers: Please ignore the fact that Trump’s actions show that he fully grasped how serious the Wuhan flu is. Instead, focus on the fact that he told a senior official to ‘stop panicking.’ Oh, also, please ignore that his advising someone not to panic is the best advice in a situation that requires everyone to be clear-headed.”

The Times also fails to acknowledge that there is 180 degrees of difference between speculating about how the U.S. would have to react to a hypothetical pandemic and understanding that it is now dealing with an actual pandemic that brings with it a very specific set of facts. The Times’ operatives attempt to erase that critical difference by sleight and omission.  Specifically, they repeatedly paint with a broad brush, putting their spin on both documents that they do not make available for us to read and on conversations for which they provide no transcript or memorialization.

For instance,

The shortcomings of Mr. Trump’s performance have played out with remarkable transparency as part of his daily effort to dominate television screens and the national conversation.

But dozens of interviews with current and former officials and a review of emails and other records revealed many previously unreported details and a fuller picture of the roots and extent of his halting response as the deadly virus spread:

■ The National Security Council office responsible for tracking pandemics received intelligence reports in early January predicting the spread of the virus to the United States, and within weeks was raising options like keeping Americans home from work and shutting down cities the size of Chicago. Mr. Trump would avoid such steps until March.

Great.  Let’s see exactly what those memos say.  We can be certain that, if a single one of them stated that Wuhan virus spread person-to-person, making a pandemic likely, if not inevitable, then the Times would have led with that point. Dr. Mercher’s bullshit January 28 email to a few colleagues of other private individuals, complete with his “we’re all going to die” prediction, would never have made it past the first draft.

■ Despite Mr. Trump’s denial weeks later, he was told at the time about a Jan. 29 memo produced by his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, laying out in striking detail the potential risks of a coronavirus pandemic: as many as half a million deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses.

Let’s stop and take a look at the Navarro’s January 29 memo. Note that the Times does not include a link to the memo nor has it ever reproduced it in its pages. Fortunately, Axios has published it, so you can read it for yourself.  Navarro did not warn about an epidemic.  He’s a trade advisor, not a physician or an epidemiologist.  Instead, he wrote to support a travel ban on China.  He does not offer specialized medical knowledge. Instead, he merely lays out the economic costs should the virus make it to the U.S. and fizzles out ($0) versus the probable economic cost if it comes to America and becomes a pandemic.  That is self evident.  Within this context, Navarro supports a travel ban on China if there is even a “1%” chance of a pandemic.

To maintain that Trump, in addition to the travel ban, should have closed down the U.S. economy and imposed what amounted to pseudo martial law on the nation because of a 1% chance of a pandemic, is ludicrous. Still, that is the Times’ position in so many words.  Likewise, the “reporters” claim later:

By the last week of February, it was clear to the administration’s public health team that schools and businesses in hot spots would have to close. But in the turbulence of the Trump White House, it took three more weeks to persuade the president that failure to act quickly to control the spread of the virus would have dire consequences

Again, let’s not take the Times’ word for it. Instead, let’s look at what happened in the last week in February. We will discover myriad facts that the Times’ writers ignored in pursuit of their narrative. On February 24, the U.S. still had only 15 cases of Wuhan Flu in the U.S. and 0 deaths.  Nancy Pelosi was in Chinatown assuring people that it was safe to be there and that “this fear is . . . unwarranted.”  It was still two days before the CDC announced the first case of the Wuhan virus originating in the U.S., rather than coming in with a traveler. And as to what the “public health team” thought that week, let’s watch what the nation’s senior public health official, Anthony Fauci, told the U.S. on February 29 (hint: It has nothing to do with shutting down the entire U.S. economy):

The Times’ propagandists . . . er, journalists don’t even try to explain that discrepancy between reality and their accusations against Trump.

Lastly, there is the outrageous way in which the Times fawns on China. In their effort to slime Trump, the six creative writers at the Times whitewash China.  They do not mention China’s many lies about the Wuhan virus or the way in which those lies affected our ability to assess and react to the flu.  As Dr. Fauci made clear in this interview, the information vacuum was enormously consequential:

The Times also fails to mention that, until mid-February, China repeatedly refused to allow an American infectious disease team into the country.  The contrary is true in Times-land, for the Times insists that, just by following the tradition of naming a virus by its point of origin, is a Trumpain “impulse to score points” that is poisoning the well with China.  The Times smears as a conspiracy theory the possibility that the virus escaped a laboratory and, lastly, blames Trump and his team for “undercut[ing] any remaining possibility of broad cooperation between the governments to address a global threat.”  

This dishonest faux journalism reinforces the fact the Times’ policy of “no enemies to the left.”  For this kind of savage, dangerous misinformation and propaganda, may Communist China and its worthless water bearers at the Times find a special place in hell.