Down With The Sickness
The Media Research Center and its "news" division, CNSNews.com, lavished sympathy on President Trump after his coronavirus diagnosis -- and CNS even tried to distance Trump from the fetal cell-derived antibody cocktail he took to recover from it.
By Terry Krepel
Despite the fact that it so hates anything that could possibly be deemed "liberal" that it would be loudly partying from the rooftop of its fancy headquarters in suburban Washington, D.C., if Joe Biden had contracted coronavirus, the Media Research Center got upset that there was maybe a little bit of karma at work when President Trump -- who had been notoriously dismissive of masks and discouraged mask-wearing at his rallies -- came down with coronavirus earlier this month, the MRC went ballistic. Just read the over-the-top headlines:
Again: The MRC would have no problem acting evil, sick, cruel or ghoulish, and perhaps even hitting new lows, if a liberal politician or member of the media caught coronavirus in the manner that Trump did. That's simply how soulless they are.
They even got a greatest-hits piece out of all this. The pinnacle, though, was an Oct. 5 piece by resident MRC ragebot Nicholas Fondacaro carrying the headline "They Wanted Him Dead: Nets Whine POTUS Got Cutting-Edge Medical Care." That was apparently too much for his bosses -- Fondacaro offered no evidence whatsoever of an explicit death wish -- for after posting, the words "They Wanted Him Dead" were de-escalated to "Did They Want Him To Suffer?" (Fondacaro's regular lying, apparently, isn't an issue since he remains gainfully employed there.)
The funny thing, of course, is that the MRC really do want journalists dead. ConWebWatch has documented how its writers have callously dismissed journalists' concerns about their safety while covering Trump rallies, where Trump has whipped up anti-media sentiment, as them being self-centered.
The MRC only really seemed to care about how Trump's reckless behavior while being treated somehow owned the libs or the media. When Trump took a superfluous car ride on the Walter Reed Medical Center grounds, potentially exposing his security detail to the virus, Duncan Schroeder baselessly claimed the media was "showing utter dismay his state hadn't taken a turn for the worse," further whining that "CNN hates Trump so much that it will attack him even for how he handles his battle with COVID."
Mark Finkelstein chortled when CNN co-host John Berman expressed that Trump's stunt removal of his mask after returning to the White House set a bad example:
Berman's implication: Trump's gesture will encourage others to act in ways that will endanger them and others.
Never mind, of course, that Trump was engaged in his own virtue-signaling (or, perhaps more accurately, signaling his lack of virtue) with the mask-removal stunt. But Finkelstein -- and the rest of the MRC -- endorses that "virtue."
Trust the White House?
Conservatives have told people for years that we shouldn't trust the government to tell us the truth. So it's something of a surprise that the MRC is offended (or at least pretending to be) when the media stated that the Trump White House or his doctors couldn't be trusted to fully disclose the extent to which President Trump was suffering from coronavirus.
In a totally unsurprising development, the MRC's Kristine Marsh blamed the media for not implicitly trusting Trump:
The media will never take any responsibility for why Americans find them so untrustworthy; all they can do is reflexively blame President Trump. ABC’s chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl perfectly displayed this point while visiting Friday's The View, discussing President Trump’s positive COVID-19 test. He indulged the left-wing hosts’ in stirring up a conspiracy that the White House was lying about President Trump’s health.
Joseph Norris took much the same tack, even linking back to Marsh's post:
Nearly all of CNN’s New Day on Friday was devoted to the news that President Trump has tested positive for COVID-19. During this media frenzy, one narrative was constantly pushed, that the American people cannot trust the President. Co-host John Berman tried to defend the irresponsible rhetoric: “When you lie about the little things it's hard to trust you on the big things and that’s where we are this morning.”
Like Marsh, Norris offered no reason why everything from the White House should be taken at face value and without question.
The MRC even defended the evasive answers given by Trump's doctors regarding his condition and treatment. Nicholas Fondacaro huffed that an ABC host "lashed out at Trump’s doctor at Walter Reed Medical Center for “dodged key questions about his health.” Of course, she omitted how Dr. Sean Conley still needed to follow the HIPPA [sic] privacy pledge even though he was the doctor for America’s top public official."
Marsh returned to be mad that "The View" brought in respected surgeon Atul Gawande to discuss Trump's health, dismissing him as a Joe Biden supporter (though she offered no evidence that anything he said had a political motivation) and complaining that one co-host "even got the good doctor to suggest the president was only feeling well because he was high on drugs and his medical team was concealing his severe condition." She further whined of co-host Sunny Hostin: "Hostin worries that Americans can’t trust doctors anymore, and so she brings on a partisan medical doctor to combat this dilemma? The View hosts didn't mention how Gawande endorsed Biden for president, called the Republican Convention an “autocracy,” touted ex-WH aide Olivia Troye, and sent many other tweets blaming Trump for coronavirus deaths."
John Shannon, meanwhile, decreed that only people with medical degrees can critique Trump's doctors (despite his colleague Marsh having just trashed a man with a medical degree for doing so):
Despite not having a medical degree between the three of them, Morning Joe hosts Mika Brzezinski, Joe Scarborough, and Willie Geist had very strong professional opinions on Tuesday morning about how poorly the White House Medical Unit has handled President Trump’s battle with the coronavirus.
Shannon described the "Morning Joe" segment as a "shameless attack on medical professionals" -- again, ignoring that's precisely what Marsh did to Gawande.
CNS also protects Trump
The MRC's "news' division, CNSNews.com -- which during the Trump years has largely given up on being the news organization it claims to be in favor of simply being the MRC in inverted-pyramid form -- similarly ramped up its usual pro-Trump spin even more in reaction to Trump's diagnosis.
Patrick Goodenough's initial story on the diagnosis was highly sympathetic, avoiding any mention of how Trump's own behavior in largely refusing to wear masks and leading mostly mask-free rallies may have contributed to him catching the virus. The real spin began with a follow-up article by Susan Jones, who touted Trump telling Fox News' Sean Hannity before his diagnosis was announced that coronavirus is "a very, very tough disease,"in an apparent attempt to portray Trump as having taken the disease seriously despite his long record of doing otherwise. Melanie Arter, meanwhile, pushed the White House narrative that Trump's coronavirus symptoms were mild.
Another article by Arter complained that Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar -- whom CNS despises -- accused Trump of having spread coronavirus during a campaign visit to Minnesota two days before his diagnosis was announced. It has since been revealed that the Trump campaign refused to follow health guidelines and state regulations for the rally by letting in many more people than were allowed.
The spin continued with an article by Craig Bannister on the experimental drug cocktail Trump was given, followed by Jones featuring a Trump campaign adviser Steven Cortes "took reasonable risks, not reckless ones" and scoffing at the fact that several people who attended a Trump White House event before his diagnosis was announced had since tested positive for coronavirus.
CNS also did the usual complaining when liberal-leaning celebrities despised by the right -- like Kathy Griffin, Michael Moore, Chris Rock and Rob Reiner -- weren't sufficiently sympathetic to Trump, as well as a piece by Jones headlined "Chinese Communist Party Editor Mocks Trump, Then Deletes Tweet and Pens Self-Righteous Article."
Jones went into full Trump rah-rah mode when parroting his insistence that he's "learned a lot about COVID ... by really going to school," adding that he made a motorcade drive around the Walter Reed Medical Center grounds "amid media anger over the perceived lack of transparency about his doctors' health briefings." (That's the only reference to that lack of transparency at CNS.) Later, she cheered how Trump sent out "at least 18 tweets in rapid succession, explaining what's at stake in the upcoming election" while still in the hospital. In that same vein, Arter pulled stenographer duty by uncritically repeating a Trump campaign spokesman sneering that "with COVID, with a quarantine, at Walter Reed, this president still did more events yesterday than did Joe Biden."
Editor Terry Jeffrey grumbled that "A maskless Chuck Schumerthe Senate Democratic Leader--stood on a sidewalk in New York City on Sunday and ranted about President Donald Trump holding a 'super-spreader' event at the White House where many people in attendance did not wear masks as Trump announced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court." In fact, no less than Dr. Anthony Fauci later called the Barrett announcement a "superspreader" event -- something CNS has censored.
Finally, Jones gushed at how Trump "faced the cameras and pointedly removed his face mask" upon his return to the White House and issued a message saying Americans shouldn't let the virus "dominate you." She did note that "at least 197,029 people have died from COVID in this country," but didn't venture an opinion on whether they died because they allowed the virus to dominate them.
Trump, his treatment and fetal cells
So when it was reported that the antibody drug cocktail given to Trump was developed using fetal cells, CNS -- which has long vouched for Trump's anti-abortion credentials -- quickly went into spin mode. Lucy Collins did the first piece on Oct. 12, citing people from the anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute:
In a press call on Friday, biochemists David Prentice, Ph.D., and Tara Sander Lee, Ph.D., disputed claims that the treatment President Donald Trump received to combat his coronavirus infection was made from aborted fetal cells or tissues.
Collins didn't disclose the institute's anti-abortion credentials, though apparently still wasn't convinced that there wasn't an "ethical dilemma":
CNS News asked Lee if the cocktail produced by Regeneron and tested with the fetal cells was the only one available for treatment for President Trump or if he could have chosen a drug that was not tested using a fetal cell line.
In an effort to further absolve Trump of violating whatever anti-abortion pledge he may have made by taking the cocktail, Melanie Arter wrote an article the same day featuring the CEO of Regeneron similarly insisting that "our drug is not manufactured using fetal cells" after CBS pointed out that the cell line from which the antibodies were derived "were harvested from the kidney tissue of an aborted fetus" and that "the Trump administration last year has suspended federal funding for research projects that involve fetal tissue from abortions."
CNS apparently considers the subject closed now, for it has done no more articles on the subject of fetal tissues in coronavirus treatments nor even published an op-ed on the subject. Its writers are not getting paid to make Trump look bad, after all.
CNS wasn't the only ConWeb outlet to focus on this; WorldNetDaily columnist Michael Brown cited many of the same people to similarly distance Trump from the cocktail's origins and try and preserve his anti-abortion record.