WaPo comes to the defense of WHO
The Washington Post's so-called "Fact-Checker" omitted critical facts from his article criticizing President Donald Trump's condemnation of the World Health Organization. On April 17, 2020, Glenn Kessler's "Analysis: Trump's false claim that the WHO said the coronavirus was 'not communicable'" gave President Trump three out of four "Pinocchios" for the allegedly deceptive statement that the WHO "publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human transmission happening" and that the WHO said it was "not communicable."
Kessler quotes a January 13, 2020 WHO news release, which states: "To date, there has been no suggestion of human to human transmission of this new coronavirus." Kessler does not make any comment specifically about this sentence. Moreover, Kessler cites a document that proves that there was such a "suggestion" before January 13, 2020 but does not quote from that part of the document. Kessler states:
Dec. 31, 2019: The WHO was alerted to a potentially new virus in China.
That same day, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control said it sent an email to the WHO regarding rumors of at least "seven cases of atypical pneumonia," which it said is code in China for "a disease transmitted between humans caused by coronavirus."
Kessler cites an April 11, 2020 news release by the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control stating that "in the email we took pains to refer to atypical pneumonia, and specifically noted that patients had been isolated for treatment." Kessler does not quote the part noting that "patients had been isolated for treatment." Also unreported is the text of the actual December 31, 2019 email to the WHO, released on April 11 by the Taiwan Ministry of Health and Welfare, stating that the seven "cases have been isolated for treatment."
Isolation of the seven cases constitutes at least a "suggestion" of human-to-human transmission. On April 14, Henry Holloway of the Sun wrote, "ALARM BELL Taiwan's coronavirus December warning to WHO about person-to-person spreading went unheeded bombshell email reveals, " reporting an April 11 news conference:
The email points out reports of patients being "isolated".
Taiwanese health minister Chen Shih-chung argued this obviously refers to the risk of transmission at a press conference on Saturday in Taipei.
He said: "If being treated in isolation is not a warning, then what is?"
All this is omitted from Kessler's article.
President Trump's statement that the WHO "publicly endorsed the idea that there was not human-to-human transmission happening" and that the WHO said it was "not communicable" should be evaluated in the context of all of the WHO's statements and all the facts. The WHO falsely denial on January 13, 2020 that there was any "suggestion" of human-to-human transmission. President Trump's statement is essentially correct. Even the New York Times reported on February 1, 2020 in "As New Coronavirus Spread, China's Old Habits Delayed Fight," by Chris Buckley and Steven Lee Myers, through the first few weeks of January 2020: "The World Health Organization's statements during this period echoed the reassuring words of Chinese officials."
As the Sun reported: "The health minister also accused WHO of quibbling over wording[.]" This is what Kessler and the Post are doing: quibbling over wording as they fail to report the WHO's deception. The most criticism Kessler has for the WHO is this:
Trump could have made a case that the WHO was slow to speak firmly about the possible human-to-human transmission[.] ...
The WHO could have highlighted the human-to-human transmission sooner than it did and pressed China for more information.
Not only was the WHO slow to speak; it spoke falsely.
A self-proclaimed "fact-checker" who omits facts that contradict the policy agenda he and his newspaper are promoting should not be called a fact-checker. There are better words to describe such a person and the newspaper that publishes his articles, especially when millions of lives are at stake.
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).