fake news vs. information in the time of virus

March 26, 2020
386 Picks

By Tuesday afternoon, the heads of programming at KUOW, a public radio affiliate in Seattle, one of America’s coronavirus epicenters, had had enough. In two tweets, the small local broadcaster did what too many members of American media have refused to, cut off Trump’s stream of untruths and bullsh*t because they knew it to be detrimental to their listeners’ health. “KUOW is monitoring White House briefings for the latest news on the coronavirus — and we will continue to share all news relevant to Washington State with our listeners,” they wrote. “However, we will not be airing the briefings live due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.”

A news organization finally decided not to continue spreading the misinformation being peddled by the grifter-in-chief, because, not only is it malfeasant propaganda, it’s now actively killing people. Case in point: last week, during several White House briefings, Mein Chumpf (h/t @Greg Tate) peddled the anti-malaria drug Chloroquine as a snake oil cure for Covid-19, a falsehood that led one Arizona couple to purchase a non-medical version of the drug (it is also used to clean fish tanks) and self-medicate. The man died — his wife remains alive but in critical condition. What little information is known about the effects on Covid-19 of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, the two drugs Cheetoh keeps referring to as “game-changers” and “encouraging,” is inconclusive according to every medical and science expert questioned. Nevertheless, Tr*mp, his flunkies and his propaganda apparatus continue selling false hope.

And if it’s not actually doing anything for the nation’s safety — the bodies are, after all, piling up, and according to today’s statistics, one in five Americans lost their job over the past two weeks — it is certainly driving up the sainted stock market and the grifter’s approval numbers. So, as much as claims of “fake news” have become numbing to every American not in a coma since the Summer of 2016, it has become abundantly clear that airing such lies is dangerous to the health of every single person who believes them. It is the broadcasting equivalent of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater, which the U.S. Supreme Court has said is not protected as free speech way back in 1919. But this MF’er can’t even get banned by Twitter? 

KUOW is not even the first organization to stop covering the briefings – though not because they’re full of lies. Numerous news organizations have stopped sending reporters to the White House because no coronavirus social-distancing precautions are in place there. (Mind-blowing, right?) As of Monday, only 14 reporters were in the briefing room, which simply allows the incompetent egomaniac and his minions to mislead without impunity. “President Trump is using his daily briefings as a substitute for the campaign rallies that have been forced into extinction by the spread of the novel coronavirus,” wrote Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan a few days ago. “These White House sessions — ostensibly meant to give the public critical and truthful information about this frightening crisis — are in fact working against that end.”

So what the f*ck do we do when the media is conspiring to misinform us — wittingly or otherwise? Well, some folks are organizing, and leave it to the Black journalist community to take the first steps to serve their readership in a way that big white media outlets have not and can not. The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a trade association of African American-owned newspapers and media companies, has responded to the pandemic by establishing a Coronavirus Task Force and Resource Center. The task force will include not only people in the journalism community but physicians, nurses and corporate partners, all with the express mission to inform the people they serve.

Great, focused, verified, trusted information can also be found all over the web — even on social media. Trusted voices like “Son of Baldwin” are disseminating information from far and wide, much of shooting holes in the White House’s lies. We at AFROPUNK too are trying to do our part in these unprecedented times, starting a public Facebook group, AFROPUNK COVID-19, CHAOS AND QUARANTINE, where we’ve begun posting the most pertinent (and verified) information for our global community. 

Slaloming between Tr*mp’s lies aren’t actually hard for those who’ve been sifting them for four years. We know he doesn’t give a F*ck about us; but, increasingly, it’s the difference between receiving information that will keep us alive, or lead to our collective demise.