- President Trump received backlash online after boasting about the TV ratings from his coronavirus briefing.
- Many users criticized the president for his remarks while confirmed cases and deaths from the coronavirus continue to grow significantly in the U.S.
- The tweets also furthered a debate about whether or not Trump’s briefings should be broadcast live on media outlets, with critics arguing that he often uses the time to spread misinformation.
- Others argue that cutting Trump’s briefings amounts to censorship.
Trump Gets Backlash for Ratings Tweets
President Donald Trump stirred up another controversy on Sunday after boasting about the ratings from his daily coronavirus news briefings.
“Because the ‘Ratings’ of my News Conferences etc. are so high, ‘Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers’ according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY,” the president tweeted.
A little while later, Trump tweeted several excerpts from the same New York Times article he referenced early.
Numerous people took to Twitter to criticize Trump for bragging about his ratings while so many Americans are dying.
“More Americans have died from coronavirus than during the attack on Pearl Harbor and Trump is talking about ratings?” Scott Dworkin, the host of the podcast the Dworkin report, wrote in a tweet.
“While bodies were being placed on the back of a refrigerated truck outside Brooklyn hospital, America’s President was boasting about his #coronavirus press conferences television ratings,” tweeted pastor, activist, and radio host Bishop Talbert Swan.
Prominent conservative commentators also chimed in, like Ben Shapiro, who appeared to condemn Trump’s remarks while also accusing others of doing the same.
Celebrities like John Legend and Chrissy Teigen also jumped in to slam Trump and his remarks.
What the Article Actually Says
Others, however, pointed out that the president had inaccurately quoted the Times article and taken it out of content.
There are several things to note here. First of all, the article, written by Michael Grynbaum, is titled, “Trump’s Briefings Are a Ratings Hit. Should Networks Cover Them Live?”
“The president’s viewership has rivaled the audiences for hit reality shows and prime-time football,” the tagline reads. “But some worry about misinformation.”
In the very first sentence, Grynbaum opens the article, writing, “President Trump is a ratings hit, and some journalists and public health experts say that could be a dangerous thing.”
But when you look at Trump’s tweet he only includes the very first sentence, then skips the next part and moves on to the excerpt about ratings.
“And the audience is expanding even as Mr. Trump has repeatedly delivered information that doctors and public health officials have called ill informed, misleading or downright wrong,” Grynbaum continues.
The article then goes on to say that while journalists have long debated how to report on Trump’s “fabrications,” the coronavirus pandemic has “raised the stakes.”
“Now, the president’s critics say, lives are at risk,” Grynbaum writes.
Debate on Airing Trump’s Briefings
Grynbaum’s article brings up an important and growing debate over whether or not Trump’s press briefings should even be aired.
For a while now, those in favor of the idea have argued that Trump has been using his daily press briefings to lie, downplay the coronavirus, and generally spread misinformation, and as a result, it is in the public interest to stop airing them.
This is a point that has been made by a number of prominent journalists in recent weeks.
“If he keeps lying like he has been everyday on stuff this important, we should— all of us should stop broadcasting it, honestly. It’s going to cost lives,” Rachel Maddow said on her show a few weeks ago.
That sentiment was also echoed by Maddow’s fellow MSNBC anchor, Joe Scarborough.
“There is no public benefit to this briefing,” the Morning Joe host tweeted. “The networks should all cut away.”
Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan also wrote an op-ed around the same time as Maddow’s remarks, arguing that the media should stop broadcasting Trump’s “dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings.”
“More and more each day, President Trump is using his daily briefings as a substitute for the campaign rallies that have been forced into extinction by the spread of the novel coronavirus,” she wrote.
The idea seemed to gain momentum on Sunday following Trump’s controversial remarks about his ratings. More people began calling for networks to cut the briefings, and #BoycottTrumpPressConferences trended on Twitter.
Outlets Take Action
Some outlets have already taken action. Last week, the local NPR station in Seattle, KUOW, announced in a tweet that it would no longer be airing the president’s coronavirus press conferences.
The station explained that it would still cover the briefings, but that it would not broadcast them live “due to a pattern of false or misleading information provided that cannot be fact checked in real time.”
One day early, five of the six major networks stopped airing the briefing partway through.
According to the Associated Press, the networks ABC, CBS and NBC cut away after the first 20 minutes, while CNN and MSNBC held out a little longer, and only Fox stuck it out to the end.
White House spokesman Judd Deere criticized CNN and MSNBC in a tweet for cutting early, calling the move “disgraceful.”
A CNN reporter responded in another tweet, quoting a spokesperson who said: “If the White House wants to ask for time on the network, they should make an official request. Otherwise we will make our own editorial decisions.”
CBS also made a similar comment, but MSNBC took a much harder stance, with a representative telling reporters that they, “cut away because the information no longer appeared to be valuable to the important ongoing discussion around public health.”
However, on the other side, some have argued that cutting the press briefings amounts to censorship.
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Axios) (Fox News)
Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down
After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.
The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.
Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.
A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.
The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.
In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.
The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.
A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.
Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye
“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.
Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.
Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.
“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.
When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.
“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”
On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.
On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)
U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide
India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.
One Million Dead
The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.
Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.
The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.
By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.
The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.
The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.
The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.
People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.
Fifteen Million Dead
On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.
Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.
Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.
The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.
“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.
Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.
See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)
Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”
Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.
New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer
Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.
“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”
Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.
Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”
“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.
Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.
Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.
“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”
Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.
Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.
Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.
It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.
During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”
At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.”