The New York Times’ shameless Covid contortions

by | Dec 15, 2022


The New York Times has just discovered that some Americans are no longer wearing masks. Welcome to life in the mainstream-media bubble.

The Times sent its reporters last week across Los Angeles County to assess the state of Covid precautions. Los Angeles is at the epicentre of a national movement among blue-state health officials and their press allies to scare the public back into Covid submissiveness. The director of Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health, Barbara Ferrer, has proclaimed: ‘This is the time for everyone to put their mask back on right now… We need to get the mask back on.’ If residents insist on holding a Christmas party, it should be held outside and guests should be tested before arrival, according to Ferrer. The Los Angeles Times has been backing up her campaign, with recent headlines like: ‘Dangerous weeks ahead in LA County as coronavirus suddenly surges.’ ‘Dangerous’ here equates to around a dozen Covid deaths per day in a county of nearly 10million people. LA County, like other jurisdictions, does not distinguish deaths with Covid from deaths from Covid, making even that small tally a likely exaggeration.

Last week, the New York Times decided to venture forth into this ‘dangerous’ surge. And what it found was apparently stunning and newsworthy. For instance, it reports that a mother and children shopped for groceries in the south-east corner of Los Angeles County without masks, while half of the employees in that same Boyle Heights supermarket wore no face coverings. (The New York Times was seemingly not surprised by the 50 per cent of workers who still were wearing face coverings.)

It also reports that a 60-year-old retired screenwriter flew from LA to New York without feeling the need to don a mask while on the plane. This screenwriter told the Times reporters that he was ‘less worried about getting sick by Covid’ than he was about ‘being inconvenienced by Covid’. So noteworthy was this sentiment that the paper highlighted it in its print edition: ‘Less worried about catching a virus than about “being inconvenienced” by it’, reads the pull quote.

The Times is clearly struggling to make sense of what it is seeing. The ‘perception of the coronavirus, in the age of vaccines and survival stories’, it says, has ‘seemingly evolved from a deadly threat to an annoyance for the healthy’. Those Covid ‘survival stories’, seemingly as dramatic as surviving an avalanche, have presumably influenced people’s perceptions. The reporters can’t be too sure of their diagnosis for this cavalier attitude, however, so they are careful to couch their reporting in terms of impressions and appearances. Healthy individuals ‘seem less concerned about Covid this December’, they offer tentatively.

Just as it did at the height of the Covid pandemic, the New York Times trots out its usual phalanx of ‘health experts’ to rebuke those members of the public who are insufficiently fearful. Readers who hoped that they had heard the last of Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, will have likely underestimated the tenacity of both the New York Times and its safetyist sources.

In his latest NYT appearance, Osterholm complains that seven of his acquaintances have contracted Covid in the past two weeks. ‘Why?’, he asks rhetorically. ‘Because they think it’s over’, he answers. ‘What they’re trying to do is move into a post-Covid world. And unfortunately, that world isn’t ready for us yet.’ That post-Covid world will never be ready for us, in the eyes of Osterholm and his colleagues. The virus, he ‘warned’, in the Times’s paraphrase, ‘is still in the driver’s seat’ – and perhaps it always will be.

Did the Times ask Osterholm how sick his seven acquaintances became? It would appear not. One may surmise with a high degree of confidence that their illness would have been manageable and temporary. But Osterholm and the Times continue to obey the rule of all safetyist Covid reporting: flog the case count and ignore the mildness of the cases.

The Times article does eventually reveal the number of daily Covid deaths nationally: just 290 a day. In a population of 332million, those 290 deaths work out to 0.087 deaths per 100,000 people, or 0.87 deaths per million people. In 2022 so far there have been about 2,000 deaths per day from heart disease – over six times as many daily deaths as the current Covid death count – and nearly 1,700 per day from cancer – over five times as many daily deaths as the current Covid death count. Yet the Times is not urging people to stop snacking between meals and to get off their butts and exercise: that would be fat-shaming. It does imply, however, that those who are trying to ‘move into a post-Covid world’, in Osterholm’s words, are being selfish.

Read the whole article here.