New York (CNN Business)A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
Do you remember where you were on March 15? I remember it as the weekend when the shutdown started in force. It was the last time taking 3-year-old Sunny to the park before the playground closed. The last time having any guests at the table with me in New York. Everyone has a different recollection of exactly when the pandemic stopped time and reset clocks — but it was roughly three months ago… Right around this time in mid-March… for many folks in the media business. What were you thinking then? What are you thinking now?Now: At least 2 million casesCNN’s latest #’s, via Johns Hopkins: “At least 2,093,448 coronavirus cases in US; at least 115,730 deaths.” The outbreak is expanding in some states. Don’t be fooled into calling this a “second wave” — it’s too early for that. Politico’s Dan Diamond said on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” that a better analogy might be high tide and low tide — “we are swamped with cases,” and barring a dramatic change, “there will continue to be a tide…”Don’t get used to thisRead MorePart of the danger is that “we get used to a certain baseline level of sickness and death, and it only makes news when things start to get better or worse,” Dr. James Hamblin told me. “We can’t get acclimated to losing 800 to 1,000 Americans every single day, which is what’s happening right now.”I agree — we can’t get used to this — but hasn’t that attitude already set in among a significant portion of the American public?Where are the Trump admin’s medical experts?Why have Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Robert Redfield mostly vanished from the national TV interview circuit? It seems related to the White House’s desire to promote a “reopening” narrative. Dr. Fauci’s interview with Wolf Blitzer last Friday was the exception that proves the rule — he is “no longer making regular appearances,” Diamond said. Fauci is instead showing up at industry conferences and in local radio interviews. Over the weekend he spoke with The Telegraph, a UK newspaper. “I think it makes it that much harder for their messages to get across, especially in the middle of what is still a raging pandemic,” Diamond said. Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, EIC of Kaiser Health News, concurred: There’s a “big vacuum” of expertise.>> Yes, but… Diamond pointed out that he interviewed Surgeon General Jerome Adams just a few days ago. “The experts are gettable, but they are not as gettable as when they were standing up at press briefings everyday, responsive to reporters in the moment.”>> Diamond also pointed out inconsistencies in messaging… between, say, Black Lives Matter protests and church services… IMHO, every time a reporter raises health concerns about Trump’s planned rally in Tulsa, the Trump camp is just going to bring up the recent protests in response…”Make my death meaningful”Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal spoke with me about her mother, who died last month at age 96. “She was treated for Covid,” Rosenthal said, “but because she never had that positive test, the way we’re counting deaths, she wasn’t counted. And that bothers me because we have this perception that numbers are ‘bad’ or ‘good’ and it’s about political reputation or business reputation, but numbers are what we need — accurate numbers in order to figure out what’s an appropriate response. And we’re not getting those right now. And it’s often for political reasons.” She said her mom would be saying “make my death meaningful…”“The Virus: What Went Wrong?”Brian Lowry writes: For those accusing the media of having forgotten about coronavirus, Frontline clearly hasn’t. On Tuesday, the PBS program will air “The Virus: What Went Wrong?,” a deftly packaged breakdown of the slow response to the pandemic and the costly toll associated with it. The producers are correspondent Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria, and it’s well worth watching, especially for those with bad reading habits in terms of the exhaustive reporting on this topic…FOR THE RECORD– Donald G. McNeil Jr. is back on “The Daily” Monday morning for “an update on the state of the coronavirus,” Michael Barbaro says… (Twitter)– Common sense from Scott Gottlieb and Yuval Levin: “The remainder of 2020 warrants flexibility and tolerance, trying different ways to adapt to new evidence. In a country with such fractured politics, this will be no small challenge…” (WSJ)– The CDC’s media relations office was told to “refuse media requests from ‘anyone associated with Voice of America,’ citing White House tweets accusing VOA of spreading Chinese propaganda.” Read VOA director Amanda Bennett’s response… (VOA)– ICYMI, the cover story in Sunday’s NYT Mag: “The path to a cure for Covid-19…” (NYT)