Few things have stuck with me from my high school studies as much as a 19th-century play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. “An Enemy of the People” is quite relatable to the current times.
The play centers around Dr. Stockmann. He warns his fellow citizens that their natural springs, the town’s economic engine, are contaminated with bacteria from the local tannery and pose a public health danger. He recommends their closure. Although the doctor was previously held in high esteem, the townspeople quickly turn against him.
The newspaper refuses to print his scientific findings. It instead chooses to print a reassuring column by the mayor that rejects the scientific findings. Dr. Stockmann’s family is ruined. He remains steadfast and tells his family that he intends to remain in the town and prove to its leadership “that considerations of expediency turn morality and justice upside down.”
The deceitful actions by the newspaper portrayed in the play are, unfortunately, familiar. People from all sides of the political spectrum aren’t surprised when our media rejects expertise it deems unpalatable. We’ve become accustomed to the fourth estate manipulating the flow of information by not reporting facts which don’t fit their agenda.
The most recent, and egregious, example comes to us from The New York Times. While “Trump’s deadly search for a scapegoat” by Nicholas Kristof is an opinion piece, The Times has an implicit duty to not print that which isn’t true.
Kristof writes, “Thousands of Americans would be alive today if President Trump had spent more time listening to the World Health Organization instead of trying to destroy it.” He portrays the World Health Organization as faring better in their response to the global pandemic than Trump. Let’s review the documented timeline.
Jan. 5 — WHO said that human-to-human transfer wasn’t occurring and that no travel restrictions were warranted.
Jan. 9 — WHO repeats its Jan. 5 claim.
Jan. 14 — WHO again claims no human-to-human transfer.
Jan. 30 — WHO recommends a public health emergency.
Jan. 31 — President Trump imposes travel restrictions.
Feb. 3 — WHO recommends “against” travel bans or trade restrictions. A Reuters news article on this day reports on a speech by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, executive director of WHO. The article states, “Referring to the virus’ spread abroad, he (Dr. Tedros) said it was “minimal and slow,” while warning that it could worsen.”
Feb. 12 — Ghebreyesus says the number of new cases in China has stabilized.
Feb. 26 — Trump forms a White House COVID-19 response team.
March 11 — WHO declares global pandemic.
March 16 — Trump announces social distancing guidelines.
Those are the documented facts. They’re entirely inconsistent with any notion that Trump’s response to the global pandemic was inadequate or fell short of WHO recommendations.
Further outrage is what appears to be the media’s complete avoidance of assigning responsibility where it lays — the Chinese communist government.