There are three reasons why the public is right to be skeptical, all of which have been on display during the coronavirus pandemic. One is a credulity toward experts. Max Fisher of the New York Times tweeted on Monday, in response to growing skepticism toward Chinese claims that they’ve brought the outbreak under control, “If your well-grounded concern is that official Chinese data can never be trusted, it’s worth considering that the WHO is vouching firsthand for the country having achieved a major turnaround.”
The tweet linked to an interview with Canadian epidemiologist and World Health Organization advisor Bruce Aylward, who spent last Friday dodging a Hong Kong journalist’s questions about Taiwan in an interview that really has to be seen to be believed. Setting aside the other evidence that the WHO has been co-opted by China, this is a little embarrassing.
The second reason is the worldview of most journalists. These were the same people who told the public in February they should be more worried about the flu, or stigma against Asian Americans, than the virus itself.
The third reason is that many media companies either do business with China or are paid by the government in some way. This one is potentially more insidious than the other two.
There’s much more that explores that third reason.