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President Trump’s decision to suspend funding to the World Health Organization amid the coronavirus crisis sparked a spirited defense of the organization by the New York Times that one critic likens to a "public relations effort" on behalf of the WHO.

The president announced Tuesday that the United States would immediately halt funding for the health organization, saying it had put “political correctness over lifesaving measures,” noting that the U.S. would undertake a 60- to 90-day investigation into why the “China-centric” WHO had caused “so much death” by “severely mismanaging and covering up” the coronavirus spread.


Republicans on Capitol Hill, many of whom have been sharply critical of the World Health Organization and calling for weeks for Trump to get tough on the organization for allegedly helping China suppress information about the outbreak in the early stages, cheered the president’s decision. However, Democratic lawmakers, international bodies like the European Union and liberal pundits condemned the move.

On Thursday the Times published a piece headlined, “The W.H.O. acted faster and with more foresight than many national governments” under the coronavirus “latest updates” section. An expanded version of the story headlined, “W.H.O., Now Trump’s Scapegoat, Warned About Coronavirus Early and Often,” was placed in the Health section of the paper.

Times editor/writer Richard Pérez-Peña and reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. co-bylined the piece that defends the controversial organization.


“On Jan. 22, two days after Chinese officials first acknowledged the serious threat posed by the new virus ravaging the city of Wuhan, the chief of the World Health Organization held the first of what would be months of almost daily news briefings, sounding the alarm, telling the world to take the outbreak seriously,” the Times wrote to kick off the piece. “But with its officials divided, the W.H.O., still seeing no evidence of sustained spread of the virus outside of China, declined the next day to declare a global public health emergency. A week later, the organization reversed course and made the declaration.”

The Times wrote “early days of the epidemic illustrated the strengths and weaknesses” of the WHO, which is “now under fire” by the president.

“The Times isn’t just carrying water for the World Health Organization. It’s practically become Aquaman."

— Dan Gainor

Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor blasted the Times for the article defending the organization.

“The Times isn't just carrying water for the World Health Organization. It's practically become Aquaman,” Gainor told Fox News.

“The WHO told everyone in January that it ‘found no clear evidence’ of human-to-human transfer. It waited until March 11 to declare this crisis a pandemic. And it's been in the pocket of communist China,” Gainor added. “Yet The Times is angry that Trump doesn't want to continue funding an anti-American operation to the point that it's running a public relations effort to defend the organization.”


The Times went on about how it feels the WHO “showed an early, consistent determination to treat the new contagion like the threat it would become, and to persuade others” to do the same and take coronavirus seriously.

Gutfeld on Trump dumping the WHOVideo

“Trump, deflecting criticism that his own handling of the crisis left the United States unprepared, accused the W.H.O. of mismanaging it, called the organization ‘very China-centric’ and said it had ‘pushed China’s misinformation,’” the Times added. “But a close look at the record shows that the W.H.O. acted with greater foresight and speed than many national governments, and more than it had shown in previous epidemics.”


The Times noted that the WHO “made mistakes” but “there is little evidence” it is actually responsible for the coronavirus pandemic reaching Europe and then the United States.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bungled the rollout of diagnostic tests in the United States, even as the W.H.O. was urging every nation to implement widespread testing. And the White House was slow to endorse stay-home restrictions and other forms of social distancing, even after the W.H.O. advised these measures were working in China,” the Times wrote.

The lengthy article went on to quote a variety of experts, WHO officials and professors who largely defended the organization.

The United States is the WHO's largest single donor, and the State Department had previously planned to provide the agency $893 million in the current two-year funding period. Trump said the United States contributes roughly $400 to $500 million per year to WHO, while China offers only about $40 million. The money saved will go to areas that "most need it," Trump said.

"We have deep concerns over whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible," Trump said Tuesday, accusing the WHO of failing to adequately keep the international community apprised of the threat of the coronavirus.

"The WHO failed in this duty, and must be held accountable," Trump said.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report. 

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