“There were so many publications that were baying for the blood of the current government, the kind of language, the portrayal, was so negative,” rued CNN-News18’s Anand Narasimhan on his debate show on August 31, referring to the western media’s coverage of the second wave of the pandemic in India.
Today, Narasimhan said, when the “US is gasping for breath,” why is the same western media not covering the crisis in the same way that it did India?
A couple of days before, on August 27, WION’s Palki Sharma had asked identical questions on her daily show . In a segment titled “US Covid crisis: no press coverage?”, Sharma claimed that she and her team had a “hard time” finding “details, pictures and videos” to put the segment together, because apparently, there was “nothing” on the news wires.
“But we had to tell the story,” she said, “because everyone else has chosen not to.”
Sharma and Narasimhan would have you believe that while the “western media” tripped over itself to report on India’s Covid crisis, it didn’t apply the same standards to crises in their home countries. This is “media bias”, they proclaimed, even as these media houses purportedly “sent drones” to Indian crematoriums and funeral grounds.
We’re sorry to burst their bubble, but these claims hold no water.
First, a simple Google search throws up multiple in-depth reports on the recent surge in Covid cases in the US (see , , , and , for starters).
Second, India was not “singled out” by the global media. As Covid deaths spiked in New York last year, for instance, publications like Reuters, Washington Post, CNN, New York Times, BBC, and Telegraph all had drone footage of caskets being buried in mass graves. There were similar reports from graveyards in Brazil, Italy and the United Kingdom.
For the benefit of Sharma, Narasimhan and their ilk, here’s a quick run-down of some of the “western media” reports we found online on the US’s current predicament.
In the days leading up to News18’s debate, the front pages of the New York Times had detailed ground reports on the Covid crisis in Florida and Mississippi.
On August 29, for instance, noted that the Florida story is “a cautionary tale for dealing with the current incarnation of the coronavirus...Florida shows that even a state that made a major push for vaccinations can be crushed by the Delta variant, reaching frightening levels of hospitalisations and deaths.” The report detailed how morgues and crematoria in the state were stretched beyond capacity.
On August 30, how a combination of “politics and poverty” made Mississippi “uniquely underprepared to handle what is now the worst coronavirus outbreak in the nation”. It highlighted the shortcomings of the state’s healthcare system and the role played by the administration in its underdevelopment.
On August 28, detailed how a children’s hospital in New Orleans was filling up with Covid patients struggling for air.
CNN also consistently offered updates, reports and statistics from states across the US. On August 30, it on the oxygen crisis in the country, noting that Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana were struggling with oxygen scarcity. On August 31, a noted that five states in the country have just 10 percent of ICU beds left. On September 1, it how a record number of children were being hospitalised with Covid.
On her show, WION’s Palki Sharma specifically asked why the American media was not reporting on Covid cases in Florida. “Some of them did manage to send a reporter all the way to a hospital in Kerala to file a story, list lessons for India, even upload pictures, but going underreported is the hospitalization rate in Florida,” she complained.
Sharma’s Google search missed dozens of reports that were published well before her show aired on August 27.
The New York Times, for example, about civic authorities asking Orlando residents to cut back on water usage so liquid oxygen, which is used in water treatment, can be conserved for hospitals. On August 25, it about how in that particular week, 227 virus deaths were being reported each day in Florida, exactly what the WION anchor claimed had not been reported anywhere.
On August 27, NBC News the record number of hospitalisations in Florida hospitals, some of which were nearly 90 percent full. It also detailed how the state’s administration pushed back against mask mandates and lockdowns but only focused on vaccination. On the day of Narasiman’s debate, NBC that the US had hit daily hospitalisations of 100,000.
It’s worth noting that CNN-News18 has not done a single report on the 34 children who died in Uttar Pradesh – the state where its news studio is located – from dengue and viral fever.