Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during an interview with the Associated Press on April 26, 2018, in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Matthew Pennington)
This past Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) angered many in the mainstream media by posting a tweet that pointed out how some in the media couldn’t “contain their glee & delight in reporting that the U.S. has more #CoronaVirus cases than #China.” Rubio also stated in his tweet that “without any doubt” China’s Wuhan coronavirus case numbers were “significantly more than [what] they admit to” in spite of the media’s uncritical acceptance of them:
Beyond being grotesque,its bad journalism
We have NO IDEA how many cases China really has but without any doubt its significantly more than why they admit to
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 29, 2020
Offended members of the press misinterpreted Rubio’s tweet to suggest he was saying they were happy people were sick or dying, which wasn’t the case. The point Rubio was getting at was that the media was using China’s unsubstantiated numbers and comparing them to the U.S.’s rising number of cases. which they then used to bash Trump and Republicans.
Fast forward to Friday, when Rubio appeared on MSNBC to talk to anchor Stephanie Ruhle about, among other things, Florida’s response to the pandemic.
After being critical of Rubio’s staunch defense of his state after she strongly insinuated Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis was slow to respond to the outbreak in comparison to other states, Ruhle pivoted to Rubio’s Sunday tweet. Judging by her demeanor, you could tell she was chomping at the bit to ask him about it:
“With all due respect, sir, you’re not immune to finger pointing yourself. Earlier this week, you called out people that share my job,” Ruhle complained. She then quoted a recent tweet from the Senator: “I’ll share just the beginning, where you wrote, ‘Some in our media can’t contain their glee and delight in reporting that the U.S. has more coronavirus cases than China. Beyond being grotesque, it’s bad journalism.’”
“I need to ask you this because I’m a journalist. We’re not just some personalities, you called out journalism. And I need to understand why on Earth you did this.”
Rubio responded by putting on a mini-clinic in how to turn the mainstream media’s gotcha tactics around on them (bolded emphasis added):
“Well, because there are some journalists that were doing exactly what I said. An editorial cartoonist, I think, is considered a journalist. A columnist for GQ is considered a journalist. A magazine that’s distributed at least online is considered journalism. And every single one of those and others had headlines about how “We’re number one.” They got that trending last Friday.
Now, that’s why I used the word ‘some.’ Just like often I read reports about how ‘some Republicans’ are doing this or ‘some’ members of Congress are doing that.”
That is a terrific point and Rubio is 100% correct to point that out. We’ve all read articles at the New York Times, CNN, and at other so-called “reputable” news outlets where their favorite way to make something seem more relevant or important is to note that more than one Republican is allegedly saying or doing something. “Some Republicans say” or “Some Republicans told us” are common things you read in mainstream media reporting.
But oftentimes they don’t provide the evidence to back up their claims. Rubio, on the other hand, did.
In any event, a testy Ruhle reacted to Rubio’s answer by saying, “sir, just a moment ago you said we shouldn’t be wasting any time pointing fingers or criticizing and that’s exactly what you did in that tweet.”
Rubio then calmly explained to her that there was a difference in criticizing Florida’s allegedly slow pandemic response versus combating China’s ongoing propaganda efforts against the U.S.:
Yeah, but the difference is that this is an ongoing deal here, what we’re dealing with right now. And that is a Chinese propaganda effort to put out that they have handled this perfectly and we have not. And that is a – national security and the national interest of the United States does not stop….there were many days out there where people were basically taking the Chinese number of 80,000-something infections and saying look how great they did it and look how bad we’re doing it. And that’s not only wrong, that’s a national security issue. We know that that is a propaganda influence effort that they’re undertaking…
(Hat tip: MRC TV)