Bias as the COVID Surge Shifts to Blue States and Media Narratives Shift as Well

(Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

It is really looking like the settled science has a fluid foundation, based on the press coverage.

While it has been fairly established the press is in possession of some shifting standards in regards to the coverage of COVID cases, we might currently be in the midst of some of the most unabashed double standards on this topic. At issue here is not a change in positions long after new evidence is found. What we are seeing is that in a matter of just a few weeks, the COVID coverage has completely changed, with no alterations in the process to allow the excuse of positions evolving after more data is uncovered.

What is being alluded to here is the current surges in COVID cases we have been seeing, and the corresponding media coverage. Starting with The Associated Press, they detail for us how the New England states are going through a cycle of sharp rises in COVID cases. Joining them have been a number of other outlets, all with a uniform explanation for this notable increase.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS There are constant reminders for most New England states of just how vicious the delta variant of COVID-19 is.
  • YAHOO NEWSCases are still climbing and hospitals have been pushed to the brink in some states as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread.
  • BOSTON HERALD Infections have been higher amid the more highly contagious delta variant.

Rather uniform in the explanation of the Delta variant being responsible for this wave of cases. Also uniform was what the news outlets are not citing as a cause. In none of these reports from New England do we see blame for this new outbreak being leveled at politicians and their COVID policies. This is all attributed to the vicious nature of a particularly contagious strain alone. 

For a couple of months, there have been hair-on-fire reports in the press over both the sharp rise in COVID cases and the causes of that rise, and no shortage of commentary to go along with these reports. Blame has been generously applied and pushes for strong governmental involvement have followed. The last couple of weeks, though, have shown some dramatic changes in the viral spread — and with it, stark changes in the approach by the media.

These changes are both geographic and political. In August, we saw a sharp spike in cases, and subsequently in deaths from COVID, in areas such as Florida and Texas. As we heard — quite loudly — this surge was the result of failed policies by the GOP leaders in those states, as well as the resistance to being vaccinated by those in the population. Many pundits went to great lengths to show graphs and maps illustrating how the swath of outbreaks was in areas where Donald Trump had the most voting support. Trump-servatives are directly responsible for the recent surge, was the unmistakable message.

Yet, at the same time of this hysteria, there were other areas that were likewise experiencing these surges, without using the nefarious policies of Ron DeSantis. Oregon, for example, is hardly considered MAGA Country, and it is doubtful Hawaii was employing DeSantis-style pandemic protocols. Curiously, those states evaded media culpability despite also having sharp elevations in infections. And here is where the press is completely exposed — we are hearing hardly anything about the current conditions in Florida.

In the past few weeks, Florida has seen a marked drop in cases and in deaths. This, it should go without saying, is great news. If there is one thing the press hates, however, it is great news, especially when it is COVID-related. Note this reaction from our local paper when the positive data was coming in — Don’t Let The COVID Slide Fool You. They cannot abide good news or details that interrupt the narrative.

Now, today, a new surge is found in another part of the country with the press taking a decidedly different approach. The New England states are seeing sharp rises in caseloads and the press is stuck because these areas do not fit into the pre-written narrative. There is another problem for the viral journalists: This region does not fit in with their talking points from the past few weeks. 

It has been all the rage in the press to blame the militant unvaccinated swaths in this country for our current conditions. They take care to detail how so many hospitalizations are of the unvaccinated and they pounce on any example they can find of avowed anti-vaxxers who may have perished from the virus. If these uneducated dolts would just get the vaccine there would be no problem!

Enter the New England surge.

This current wave in the Northeast completely unravels things for the press, because there is a particular aspect of this region they have been attached to for some time. This sector of the country has long been held up as an example of forthright behavior regarding the pandemic. Yet, despite all claims and lectures, they are experiencing the same type of surge seen in states across the country.

According to statistics from The Associated Press, the five states with the highest percentage of a fully vaccinated population are all in New England, with Vermont leading, followed by Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. New Hampshire is 10th.

High vaccine rates in blues states coupled with a COVID surge presents numerous problems. The media cannot demonize that electorate, they cannot attribute the problem to vaccine resistance, and they cannot blame things on political decisions. Suddenly, within a month, reckless leadership is pushed aside and the nefarious nature of the Delta variant rises to the top of the responsibility reports. At the same time, those GOP states with better numbers than earlier are forgotten in the coverage. 

How do we explain the way Ron DeSantis was wholly to blame for a surge in August but now that cases have returned to their baseline, and deaths are lower than they have been most of the year — without any alteration in state policies? If Florida was such a focus six weeks ago, why is there no attention now, as mask debates continue and schools have been open the entire time? If the governor was fully to blame, then shouldn’t he be equally praised today for fixing the problem?

Instead, the tactic in the media is to ignore those realities, just as they are hoping we ignore their change in focus with New England states. No political fault is seen today, it is simply the pernicious nature of this variant affecting the noble citizens in the North. This exposes the bias in the press regarding the COVID outbreak in a new way. 

Problems last month are cleared without any new actions taken, fresh outbreaks occur for the same reason in favorable areas, and the self-avowed expert journalists are flailing to come up with explanations for the contradictory results. Those lecturing the loudest to follow the science are now being tied up by scientific data derailing their scripted storylines.