PBS's Nawaz Frets Trump Stoking Racism with Coronavirus

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

On Wednesday's PBS NewsHour, correspondent Amna Nawaz fretted about President Donald Trump accurately linking the COVID-19 virus to China during a segment highlighting reports of increased racism being faced by Asian-Americans in recent weeks.

Ironically, the same episode of the show highlighted reports that the Chinese government has "vastly understated" the number of coronavirus deaths in its country, which bolsters the importance of holding the government of China accountable for their handling the outbreak.

At about 21 minutes into the show, PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff read the brief:

JUDY WOODRUFF: There is word from U.S. intelligence that China vastly understated its own death toll from the pandemic. Two senior U.S. officials tell the NewsHour that the true number of dead in Wuhan, where the outbreak began, could exceed 25,000. That is roughly 10 times what Wuhan reported. Beijing claims that about 3,300 people died from across all of China.

Then, about 14 minutes later, during the show's regular "Race Matters" segment, Nawaz invited her guest, Cynthia Choi of the group Chinese for Affirmative Action, to complain about the President identifying the virus with China. The PBS correspondent began by bemoaning:

AMNA NAWAZ: I've got to ask you about some of the rhetoric coming from the highest office in the land. President Trump himself has publicly referred to the virus, linking it to China, despite the fact that health experts here and across the world have said that that kind of rhetoric is dangerous.

After playing a clip of President Trump defending his use of the term "Chinese virus," likening it to the naming of other epidemics in the past based on where they began, Nawaz posed: "Cynthia, when you see the reports people are submitting to your online reporting tool, is there a way to link that kind of rhetoric to what people are experiencing?"

Also ironically, the next segment acknowledged that the Chinese government tried early on to cover up the epidemic as the show devoted a report to Taiwan's success in minimizing the epidemic in spite of its interactions with China, in part by not believing the propaganda coming out of the communist country early on.

But, on the same day's Amanpour & Co., also on PBS, the show was still claiming that the U.S. has the greatest number of infections of any country, even though that is questionable given the likely high death toll in China, as host Christiane Amanpour also took a shot at President Trump by calling the president of Brazil, who is in "denial" of the pandemic's severity, an "ally" of President Trump.

Below are transcripts of relevant portions of the PBS NewsHour and Amanpour & Co. from Wednesday, April 1:

PBS

PBS NewsHour

April 1, 2020

JUDY WOODRUFF: There is word from U.S. intelligence that China vastly understated its own death toll from the pandemic. Two senior U.S. officials tell the NewsHour that the true number of dead in Wuhan, where the outbreak began, could exceed 25,000. That is roughly 10 times what Wuhan reported. Beijing claims that about 3,300 people died from across all of China.

(…)

AMNA NAWAZ: I've got to ask you about some of the rhetoric coming from the highest office in the land. President Trump himself has publicly referred to the virus, linking it to China, despite the fact that health experts here and across the world have said that that kind of rhetoric is dangerous. I want to play for you really quickly his remarks from a recent briefing. This is from March 26th.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I talk about the Chinese virus, and I mean it. That's where it came from. You know, if you look ebola, if you look at Lyme, right, Lyme, Connecticut, you look at all these different horrible diseases that seem to come with a name with a location, and this was the Chinese virus. But I don't have to say it if they feel so strongly about it -- we'll see.

NAWAZ: Cynthia, when you see the reports people are submitting to your online reporting tool, is there a way to link that kind of rhetoric to what people are experiencing.

CYNTHIA CHOI, CHINESE FOR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: Well, we think that his insistence in the past of using or referencing the "Chinese virus" or other administration officials referring to it as the "Wuhan virus" certainly exacerbates the situation. And we know from our first-hand accounts on this tracker that we have individuals who are mimicking the President's words and parroting them, I should say, and that there are also individuals who have reported their interactions of defending the President's words.

PBS

Amanpour & Co.

April 1, 2020

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: As cases surge and peaks are yet to be attained, nations could cooperate instead of fighting to acquire much-needed life-saving equipment for themselves. There's even competition between states. The U.S. now has the most infections in the world. This as President Trump gets somber.

[Clip of President Donald Trump making grim prediction about the number of deaths in the near future]

AMANPOUR: But his ally in South America is still in denial, still ignoring the experts and the evidence. The Brazilian leader, Jair Bolsonaro, met supporters on the streets this weekend, saying people need to face COVID-19 like men and get back to work.

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