Sunday, March 15, 2020


There was one more significant way that [Roger] Ailes positioned Fox News in a manner unlike any other news organization. In just about every other place, journalistic mistakes and malpractice were dealt with openly.... Fox, by contrast, lived under the mantra: “never apologize, never explain.”

--Jeff Greenfiled, "The Secret of Roger Ailes’ Billion-Dollar Bubble," Politico Magazine, May 18, 2017

That certainly seems to be the approach at Fox right now:

PIRRO: And you must be informed about this virus. You cannot be complacent. You may be young and your children may be even younger, and while children don't seem to be affected, kids can be carriers who, with just a simple hug or kiss to Grandma, or anyone older, can pass something that may be harmless to the child but lethal to the older person. Pitch in! It'll make you feel better.

Coronavirus skeptics are becoming non-skeptics -- but they're not acknowledging that their past statements were wrong. And that appears to be the approach the Trump administration is taking:

No one has more to apologize for than the president, who relentlessly downplayed the crisis until he stopped downplaying it, even though he's never acknowledged his change of tone.

But one result is that people who believed him when he confidently asserted that there was nothing to worry about now believe him when he says it's a very serious problem and he's on top of it.
In conversations over the course of the past week, as the news and administration action on the virus moved quickly, Mr. Trump’s supporters overwhelmingly have said they trust the president and they trust whom he trusts. They are not, in large part, completely dismissive of the virus, the way some right-wing media outlets have been. But they are comforted because they see the president as a bulwark against outright panic, working with business leaders and experts from within a bureaucracy that both the president and many Republicans still distrust....

Lee Green, a 59-year-old who lives in the Florida retirement community of The Villages and leads the Jewish Conservatives Club there, said she typically gets her news from Facebook, where she is subscribed to updates from outlets like The Daily Wire and The Jerusalem Post. But on Wednesday she struggled to understand why, if the virus was indeed the equivalent of a “bad flu,” schools were closing and events were being canceled.

Now, she relies on the C.D.C. website for updates. “I don’t see them as political hacks,” she explained.

Ms. Green is confident in the C.D.C., in large part because she believes Mr. Trump is, too. Later in the week, after the president declared a national emergency over the pandemic, her confidence that Mr. Trump was leaning on experts to do what was best for Americans had only soared.

“I’m actually even more impressed after today’s press briefing,” she said on Friday, after the president spoke in the Rose Garden, with top health officials and C.E.O.s. “I voted for Trump because he’s a problem solver. And initially he wanted to be super optimistic about everything, but when the experts told him this was a really big deal, he instantly took action.”
When Trump said things were fine, this woman believed him. Then when he said the problem was serious, she believed him again. She gets most of her news from Facebook. (I think Facebook is a malignant force in America not so much because of deliberate manipulation of public opinion by Russian troll farms or other purveyors of disinformation, or even by Facebook itself, but because it turns your second cousin and your best friend from sophomore year into the editors of your top source of news.)

Many of us had a grasp on how fast this could spread and how important flattening the curve was weeks ago. But most Americans didn't. They weren't following the coronavirus news closely. (Trump's happy talk was one big reason, of course.) Many of these people believe Trump was giving us the best available advice when he said we shouldn't worry, and is now changing his story because new information only recently became accessible to him.

Don't hold your breath waiting for The Great Trump Disillusionment. Don't believe anyone who tells you, "This will finally make them see reason!" That moment might never arrive.

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