Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog
As Judy Woodruff interviewed Vice President Mike Pence on Friday's PBS NewsHour, the PBS host misleadingly compared the number coronavirus infections and deaths in Europe to the United States as she asked the Vice President "how many more lives" did he believe "were lost" because of delays by the Donald Trump administration in taking action
As Woodruff set up her question, she made it sound like the U.S. has handled the pandemic more poorly than other major countries in Europe. She began: "We have been looking ahead, but I also would say it's important to look for a moment at how we got here. The United States today has more coronavirus cases than the major countries in Europe combined -- more deaths than anywhere."
Not only did the PBS host not clarify that different countries may have substantially different testing rates so that the number of officially reported COVID-19 cases may be substantially different than the actual numbers, but she also did not put into context that most of the more populated major countries have a per capita death rate substantially higher than in the U.S., which has a population of 330 million residents, making it the third most populated country in the world.
It is also noteworthy that Woodruff started by comparing the total number of confirmed infections of all the major countries in Europe combined to those in the U.S. when it made that number sound comparatively large in the U.S., but then, when it came to deaths, she switched to comparing the U.S. to individual European countries since, when taken together, there have been more coronavirus-linked deaths in Europe than in the U.S. so far.
As of Saturday, April 18, the total number of official COVID-19 deaths in Italy (23,227), Spain (20,043), France (19,323), and the United Kingdom (15,464) stood at a total of 78,057 in contrast with 38,379 official deaths in the United States.
If the total number of deaths in these four countries is higher than in the U.S., the total number of actual infections probably is as well.
Woodruff then continued her question by suggesting that President Trump is to blame for more lives being lost because he ignored warnings about the virus:
JUDY WOODRUFF: In January, as you know, Mr. Vice President, there were pervasive warnings from the intelligence community here -- top administration officials. There were mistakes made, no question about it, in China. There were delays at the World Health Organization.
But the President did stop travel to the U.S. January 30, but for days and even weeks after that, he said the U.S. is in a good place. He said -- he assured Americans everything is okay. How many lives do you believe were lost as a result of the delay by this administration?
It is noteworthy that, the morning after this interview, a Washington Post article shed some light on the mistakes made by the CDC that caused the development of testing to be delayed, and, in fact, is probably more to blame than anything for a delayed response since it was difficult to measure how much infection there was in the U.S.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has also notably asserted in the past that these problems at the CDC would have happened no matter who the President had been at the time.
In his response, the Vice President correctly pointed out that the per capita death rates have been higher in Europe.