Commentary / Coronavirus / Opinion / Politics

CNN Relies on Bad Vaccine News to Drive Fear and Clicks

fearHello and welcome to the first edition of “Forgotten Fact-Checks,” a new weekly column produced by National Review’s News Desk.

Over the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, the role of the “fact-checker” went from relatively inconspicuous to an essential part of the mainstream media’s adversarial journalism. According to the Duke Reporters’ Lab, the number of worldwide fact-checking outlets went from 44 in 2014 to over 300 in just six years. 

The Washington Post, perhaps the country’s most active fact-checking outlet, meticulously catalogued Trump’s every word and ended with a tally of 30,573 false or misleading claims in four years — an average of approximately 21 per day.

So why is National Review joining the pack? We hope to hold the new Democratic White House — and the mainstream media that breathlessly covered its predecessor’s every word — to account.

CNN’s Bad Vaccine News

A minuscule number of those who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 — less than 0.008 percent, to be exact — end up subsequently catching the virus. 

Rather than placing these “breakthrough cases” in their proper context by noting their proportion relative to the vaccinated population, CNN simply reported the total number of breakthrough cases in a Thursday article, generating more fear and more clicks.

“So Far, 5,800 Fully Vaccinated People Have Caught COVID Anyway in US, CDC Says,” read the Thursday headline. So, what should be good news — 5,800 breakthrough cases out of 77 million vaccinated — becomes yet another reason to stay locked down or keep your kids out of school.   

They didn’t include the full context in their headline, that happens. Maybe they got to it in the first couple paragraphs of the story? Nope, first they had to tell readers about those breakthrough cases who ended up in the hospital.

“Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396 — 7% — of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization,” reads the second paragraph.

Readers have to get through the first five paragraphs of the story to be finally told that “the total represents a very small percentage of those who have been vaccinated” and that “breakthrough cases are expected.”

CNN’s fear-stoking strategy, long apparent to anyone who is paying attention, was revealed publicly last week by Project Veritas, which got a technical director to admit on camera that the pandemic has been “gangbusters with ratings.”

“Fear is the thing that really keeps you tuned in,” he said, adding that CNN president Jeff Zucker would call the different CNN shows to tell them to keep the network’s COVID-death tracker on-screen.

CNN is not the only culprit when it comes to pushing COVID panic porn. The wider media has done a less-than-stellar job communicating to the public the rarity of blood clots associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after the rollout of the shots was paused in the U.S. last week due to six reported cases of a “rare & severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the vaccine.” However, over 6.8 million doses of the vaccine were administered, with fewer than one in a million people found to have developed a blood clot. It is still unclear if those rare blood clots were directly caused by the vaccine.

Yet, if one was to check the New York Post, they would probably think the vaccine is designed to harm, not help — thanks to headlines including “University of Cincinnati Student Dead Day after Getting J&J Vaccine” (that story appears to have been taken down); “NJ Man Hospitalized after J&J COVID-19 Vaccine Placed on Ventilator”; and “Mississippi Man Partially Paralyzed Unable to Talk after J&J Vaccine.” 

The NYT’s Bogus Russian Bounties

As President Biden announced last week that the United States will withdraw its remaining troops from Afghanistan by September 11, Biden officials revealed that U.S. intelligence has “low-to-moderate confidence” in the claim that Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. and allied soldiers. 

The admission blew up the narrative pushed by the New York Times — which conveniently broke the story last June with this lede: “American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties . . .” (emphasis added).

So how did the Times get the story so wrong? Not so fast; the paper now brags that it “first reported last summer the existence of the C.I.A.’s assessment.” That may be the case, but it is important to note that the first story makes no mention that this bombshell came from Langley. 

Intelligence gathering is messy and often leads to disagreements between different agencies regarding the veracity of certain claims — which is what happened in this case. But to read the Times’ initial coverage, one gets the takeaway that the entire intelligence community was in lockstep agreement.  

Biden’s Prisons Director Undercuts Dems’ Humanitarian Border Claims

Democrats have repeatedly argued that their permissive immigration policies are designed to be humane to migrants, but Biden’s Bureau of Prisons director acknowledged this week that the conditions migrants are being housed under would not even be acceptable for federal prison inmates.

During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) detailed his experience touring a Customs and Border Patrol facility in Donna, Texas, weeks ago where migrants were made to lie on the floor in close proximity to each other, without any regard for social distancing. Cruz asked Biden’s Bureau of Prisons director Michael Carvajal if it would be acceptable in his agency for federal prisoners to be housed similarly.

“Senator, the simple answer to that is no.”

Watch the clip here

Psaki’s ‘Confusion’

Biden issued a determination on Friday morning to speed the processing of prospective refugees, but declined to raise the Trump administration’s refugee cap of 15,000-per-year, prompting reports that he had abandoned an earlier pledge to raise the cap. The White House pulled an about-face hours later after significant pushback from Democrats and immigration activists, with Psaki claiming that the president’s earlier directive had been the subject of “some confusion.”

In a reversal, she claimed that Biden would look to announce a higher ceiling than 15,000 in May, though it will be difficult to meet the president’s initial goal of allowing 62,500 refugees into the country this year because of changes imposed by Trump.

The Headline Fail of the Week

Congratulations, NBC News, you are the inaugural winner: “Daunte Wright was stopped for expired plates, but driving while Black may have been his ‘crime’”

Media Misses

  • Ohio Republican businessman J.D. Vance is thinking about running for office. That’s why, he says, he decided to leave the board of AppHarvest, an East Kentucky-based green-technology start-up which he had invested in. The departure comes as Vance wades further into politics — but to hear it from mainstream outlets, Vance left (or was forced out) due to “controversial” tweets he’s recently published. The only problem? The tweets were sent after he submitted his resignation letter, not before — a timeline confirmed to NR by the company itself.
  • MSNBC’s Joy Reid and Glenn Kirschner baselessly claimed that the Florida governor will be implicated in the sex-trafficking investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) and Joel Greenberg. Kirschner says, without any evidence, “things are creeping closer and closer to him

Reprinted with Permission from - National Review by - Tobias Hoonhout and Brittany Bernstein

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