The New York Times v. President Trump
In "He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump's Failure on the Virus" (April 11, 2020), New York Times writers Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Mark Mazzetti, and Julian E. Barnes demonstrate once again why they and their newspaper cannot be trusted. The article uses significant omissions and falsehoods to argue that President Donald Trump was acting contrary to the advice he was getting from his medical and scientific expert advisers.
The NYT article does not mention that on December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was notified by Taiwan that the coronavirus that began in Wuhan, China was spreading by human-to-human transmission. Nor does the NYT article mention that despite the warning from Taiwan, on January 14, 2020, the WHO tweeted:
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #ChinaFlag of China.
The NYT article does not mention that on January 21, 2020 during a television interview with Newsmax host Greg Kelly, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the coronavirus that began in Wuhan, China was "not a major threat" to the U.S. Kelly asked: "Bottom line. We don't have to worry about this one, right?" Fauci responded:
Obviously, you need to take it seriously, and do the kinds of things that the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] and the Department of Homeland Security are doing. But this is not a major threat for the people of the United States, and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.
The NYT article does not mention that on January 26, 2020, during a radio interview with WABC radio host John Catsimatidis, Fauci said the coronavirus posed "a very, very low risk to the United States" (at 25 seconds into this audio file). According to The Hill, Fauci "said Sunday the American public shouldn't worry about the coronavirus outbreak in China."
"It's a very, very low risk to the United States," Fauci said during an interview with radio show host John Catsimatidis.
"But it's something that we as public health officials need to take very seriously[.] ... It isn't something the American public needs to worry about or be frightened about. Because we have ways of preparing and screening of people coming in [from China]. And we have ways of responding - like we did with this one case in Seattle, Washington, who had traveled to China and brought back the infection."
The NYT article does not mention that on March 27, 2020, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield told Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade that he agreed with Dr. Fauci's January 26 assessment at the time.
The NYT article does not mention that on January 31, 2020, Fauci stated at a White House press conference that there was a "low risk to the American public[.]"
The NYT article refers to the date of January 28, 2020 and states:
A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing ...
Although later in the NYT article the limited China travel ban is discussed, apparently, the NYT and its writers do not consider President Trump's limited ban on the entry of people from China, which was announced on January 31, 2020, and effective on February 2, 2020, to be "aggressive action." The limited ban was announced by secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, who stated:
Additionally, the President has signed a presidential proclamation, using his authority pursuant to Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, temporarily suspending the entry into the United States of foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the 2019 novel coronavirus.
As a result, foreign nationals, other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled in China within the last 14 days will be denied entry into the United States for this time.
The NYT article does not mention that President Trump's limited China travel ban was condemned by WHO. On February 3, 2020, Reuters reported:
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday there was no need for measures that "unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade" in trying to halt the spread of a coronavirus that has killed 361 people in China.
"We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent," Tedros told the WHO executive board, reiterating his message from last week when he declared an international emergency[.] ...
"Because of this strategy and if it weren't for China, the number of cases outside China would have been very much higher," he said.
Referring to the virus' spread abroad, he said it was "minimal and slow", while warning that it could worsen.
The NYT article does not mention that on March 11, 2020, Fauci told Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity that if not for the limited China travel ban "there would have been many more travel-related cases from China" and the limited ban "saved us a lot of suffering," and "was unquestionably the right move."
The NYT and its writers falsely accuse President Trump of making a false statement. They state:
Despite Mr. Trump's denial weeks later, he was told at the time about a Jan. 29 memo produced by his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, laying out in striking detail the potential risks of a coronavirus pandemic[.]
To support their allegation that President Trump denied weeks later that he was told at the time about Navarro's memo, they cite to President Trump's press conference with the Coronavirus Task Force on April 7, 2020. However, contrary to the NYT article, during the press conference, President Trump never made any such denial. Instead, at the press conference, President Trump stated that he "heard" about the memo at the time but did not "see" the memo at the time. President Trump said: "I didn't see them, but I heard he wrote some memos talking about pandemic. I didn't see them. I didn't look for them either." Therefore, the NYT and its writers are directly contradicted by the official transcript that they cite.
Assuming that Fauci's and Redfield's public statements were consistent with what they were advising President Trump at the time, and given the public statements of the WHO, it looks like President Trump was not receiving good advice. However, the NYT does not want you to know that.
There is much more to be said about the NYT article, but you get the point. The NYT and Lipton, Sanger, Haberman, Shear, Mazzetti and Barnes may present some facts, but we cannot trust them to refrain from presenting false information, and we cannot trust them to refrain from omitting significant facts that we need to properly evaluate the situation.
A good starting place for getting facts about the Wuhan virus issue is the well-sourced timeline of events compiled by the Center for Security Policy.
Allan J. Favish is an attorney in Los Angeles. His website is allanfavish.com. James Fernald and Mr. Favish have co-authored a book about what might happen if the government ran Disneyland, entitled "Fireworks! If the Government Ran the Fairest Kingdom of Them All (A Very Unauthorized Fantasy).