Richard Quest, CNN’s Business Editor at Large, recently announced on the show that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. “I just have a nasty cough, which, thankfully tonight because of our excellent technical staff, you haven’t heard me too much spluttering away,” he announced.
Whom exactly is that intended to reassure?
Quest is the third CNN anchor with the virus after Chris Cuomo and Brooke Baldwin. It’s unlikely that three anchors, the highest profile figures in a news network, would have contracted the virus without having received it from or passed it on to other CNN employees. In any other profession, there would be an investigation of a cluster of cases around one single company. But the media won’t self-investigate.
How many coronavirus cases does CNN have? Good question.
While the anchors, most notably Chris Cuomo, have received the most attention for their viral stunts, CNN has been much more tight-lipped about the infection rate among its staff. Last month, there was a report that a senior CNN staffer had tested positive. And that’s about all we know.
It’s highly improbable that three anchors and only one staffer at CNN have the virus.
CNN has 4,000 employees. It would be quite a feat of epidemiology if out of the four known CNN coronavirus cases, 75% were anchors. Or that out of 4,000 CNN employees, only anchors seem to get it.
Are CNN anchors somehow magnets for the virus?
Or do they have better access to testing than the genuinely vulnerable seniors who need the test do?
While seniors dying in New York nursing homes were unable to be tested in a timely manner, Governor Cuomo’s brother had no trouble getting tested. Neither did any of his fellow CNN anchors.
Meanwhile CNN has failed the basic metrics of transparency that it demands from those it investigates.
A recent email by CNN boss Jeff Zucker failed to address any of the staff or anchors who had tested positive, but did mention that 10 percent of staffers were working at the news network’s offices.
How is that possible when so many small businesses have shut down and so many are out of work?
Governor Cuomo exempted the news media from shutdowns as an essential organization. What’s essential about the media that allows CNN to keep putting people at risk in its offices? Cuomo’s brother does work for CNN. And he’s a case study when it comes to demonstrating why CNN can’t be trusted.
CNN falsely claimed that Chris Cuomo was emerging for the first time from quarantine in a completely fake segment after he had already been documented breaking quarantine and travel restrictions. Instead of acknowledging his misconduct, the news network chose to double down on the lies.
How many New Yorkers have CNN personnel irresponsibly infected with the virus?
The same media that constantly serves up matchstick videos and graphs showing how many people can be infected by one ‘spreader’ while urging everyone to stay home, won’t address the subject.
And CNN isn’t alone.
The one subject that the media loves and hates to talk about is itself. Even while CNN promoted Cuomo’s coronavirus antics, it has failed to be transparent about its staff infection rate. Other media outlets have also widely promoted stories about infections among its top personnel, but not staffers.
ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos has tested positive for coronavirus. Tony Greer, a cameraman, also passed away from the virus. Stephanopoulos described Greer as a “total pro” and “a consummate gentleman”. How many other ABC News staffers have tested positive?
Like CNN, ABC News only disclosed one staffer.
CBS News however disclosed six staffers having tested positive. It cleaned its studios and then reopened them. Countless small businesses where no one has tested positive haven’t received that privilege.
Maria Mercader, a CBS journalist, later passed away.
At NBC News, an equipment room employee passed away and someone working on the Today show had tested positive. Despite that, the show went on with a little social distancing after the diagnosis.
Try doing that in any small business.
How serious of a role is the media playing in the spread of the coronavirus? Because the only sources for documenting the spread come from the media, it’s hard to know just how bad it really is.
An unknown White House correspondent tested positive for the virus. An infected attendee at a journalism conference led to an infection watch for over 1,000 journalists. A radio reporter who had been covering a hot zone brought it back to a party resulting in two deaths and countless infections.
But the media has been reluctant to document the spread of infections in a profession whose job it has been to go to hot zones, to interview people in close quarters, and travel around the world.
There are good public relations reasons why the media wouldn’t want to cover its own risk factors.
While prominent anchors may be working from home, the façade that the media is staying home is just that. The anchors may no longer be willing to risk their lives in studios, let alone reporting from the field, but there are still plenty of media personnel working in offices and the field.
You can’t keep a news network, newspaper, or major media outlet running by working from home.
The media was misclassified as essential, not because it actually is, but because local governments have deep conflicts of interest when it comes to the media. Much of what the media does is cover politicians. And most politicians want the coverage. This conflict of interest may be killing people.
At a time when ordinary folks are being arrested for going to the park and politicians solicit tips on barbershops that are staying open, the media is making its rounds, attending press conferences, and evading the social distancing that it demands for a whole range of other people and professions.
Bystander videos of anything from press conferences to protests show camera crews and reporters clumping together in violation of social distancing policies while covering these events. Revealing footage like this doesn’t appear on the evening news for the same reason that the media has failed to disclose the full scope of the coronavirus outbreak in its ranks. The media can’t be trusted to cover itself.
A complete picture of the media’s role in spreading the virus would increase pressure on the entire profession, not just a few talking heads, to stay home the way so many others are forced to do.
And that’s why the media is determined not to provide one so that it can continue running its own outbreak. It’s highly improbable that the outbreak at CNN was limited to three anchors, at ABC News to its chief anchor, or at NBC to NBCUniversal’s CEO. Those are the people at the top of the food chain.
While the media treats us to their stories, it has failed to fully disclose how many of the rank and file have been infected, and how many ordinary people its personnel have infected. And it never will.
The media can’t be trusted. That’s the one thing most Americans agree on in countless polls.
That’s why the media ought to, as it tells us so often, #StayAtHome. We’ll all be safer if it does.