Good Lord. The “hoax” thing is back
From Brian Stelter’s newsletter:
Some of the biggest names in right-wing media are questioning the official Covid-19 death toll. Indeed, they’re suggesting the numbers might be inflated in an effort to paint President Trump and/or the crisis in the worst possible light. In recent days, a version of this theory has been floated by personalties such as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Tucker Carlson, Brit Hume, and “Diamond & Silk.”
Hume, who previously tweeted that New York’s “fatality numbers are inflated,” tweeted on Tuesday evening, “Well Dr. [Deborah] Birx just said it. Anyone in U.S. who dies with Covid-19, regardless of what else may be wrong, is now being recorded as a Covid-19 death.” (This is not quite what Birx said. She explained that if someone who goes into the hospital to be treated for the virus also “had a pre-existing condition” that eventually caused the individual to die, that would be counted as a Covid-19 death.)
Hume later appeared on Carlson’s show and offered the same message he did in his tweet. “There may be reasons people seek an inaccurate death count,” Carlson replied. The Fox News prime time host added, “When journalists work with numbers, there sometimes is an agenda.”
Hume and Carlson are not alone. Levin tweeted Tuesday evening that he has “suspected this for weeks.” And Limbaugh, who initially dismissed the coronavirus as the “common cold,” said recently, “It’s admittedly speculation, but … what if we are recording a bunch of deaths to coronavirus which really should not be chalked up to coronavirus?”
The death toll is likely *UNDERSTATED*
Right-wing media luminaries are advancing their theory in the face of reporting which indicates that the coronavirus death toll is being understated. An April 5 NYT story noted, “Across the United States, even as coronavirus deaths are being recorded in terrifying numbers — many hundreds each day — the true death toll is likely much higher.”
The NYT story cited hospital officials, doctors, public health experts and medical examiners who said the official death toll doesn’t account for many people: “The undercount is a result of inconsistent protocols, limited resources and a patchwork of decision making from one state or county to the next.”
NYC Council health committee chair Mark Levine also said on Twitter the official NYC death toll “is certainly an undercount.” Levine explained, “Only people who die at home who are known to have a *positive coronavirus test* have the disease listed as the official cause on their death certificate. We know there are many others going uncounted.”
Trump was asked on Tuesday at the White House briefing about the accuracy of the death count, with a reporter suggesting it is a possible undercount because of the reasons outlined above. Trump pushed back, saying, “I think they’re pretty accurate on the death count. Somebody dies, I think the states have been pretty accurate.” Trump added, “No, the death counts, I think they are very, very accurate.” That said, given how the speculation about death counts being inflated are saturating right-wing media, it would not surprise me one bit if Trump later repeated the theory.
Of course he’s going to go with it. It may not be tomorrow or the next day. But he’ll get there.
And the fact that all those Fox News loonies are disseminating this cr*p to their millions of Trump cultists is simply horrifying. They are people without character or integrity who simply cannot ever, ever admit they are wrong. It’s one thing to engage in dirty politics. But this is next level.
They will say anything to keep Trump’s numbers down.