Be warned: Protesting during a global pandemic is selfish and irresponsible.
That is of course unless your protest aligns with the political interests of America’s major news media.
For many TV watchers, it feels like only yesterday when media talking heads chastised Americans for taking the streets to protest Covid19-driven lockdowns. “Extreme,” “dangerous,” and “unruly” were a few of the adjectives used to describe these activists.
And yet many of these same media personalities are now actively encouraging Americans to assemble in large groups they recently decried as a threat to public health.
It appears the media’s public health principles only extended insofar as their first encounter with identity politics.
After the tragic killing of George Floyd, Americans began taking the streets, demanding reform of policing practices. And yet rather than condemn these activists as they did the anti-lockdown activists — both groups, mind you, are agitating on behalf of their civil rights — the media have largely endorsed Floyd protests. (And as of last night, at least one media outlet is actually encouraging its reporters to abandon objectivity entirely and to join the protests.)
When Americans protested what they viewed as an abuse of government authority, demanding an end to Covid19 lockdowns, here’s a flavor of how the media reacted:
CNN’s Don Lemon: “Who the hell do you think you are? I don’t understand, what is wrong with people? Stay at home.”
MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid: “I don’t want to call them rallies, they’re not protests. … It’s not clear what they’re demanding. Demanding to infect other people, demanding to make other people sick?”
CNN’s Jim Sciutto: “Watch these images. Really just an ugly, a dangerous scene at the State Capitol in Michigan.”
A common refrain was that these anti-lockdown protests weren’t “peaceful” because many of the activists were brandishing weapons.
And yet once the George Floyd marches turned into a nationwide phenomenon — one that frequently turned violent, and even deadly — the media’s ostensible concern over Covid contagion was discarded as casually as a used disposable mask.
CNN’s Brooke Baldwin said the marches were “beautiful” and “necessary.”
MSNBC’s Ali Velshi, literally standing in front of a burning building, defended the Black Lives Matter activists: “I want to be clear in how I characterize this. This is mostly a protest. It is not — it is not, generally speaking, unruly.”
When the violence became undeniable, CNN’s Chris Cuomo said, “please, show me where it says that protests are supposed to be polite and peaceful.”
And in the most stunning singular moment of media hypocrisy, MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid — who had derided the anti-lockdown activists as dangerous super spreaders — celebrated the Floyd activists for “risking Covid” exposure to “explain to this country that we’re fed up.”
Democratic politicians were no different. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “It’s dangerous and these people can take this home with them and hurt their families and all the rest.” But when those taking the streets aligned with Pelosi’s political interests, she remarked it was “Heartwarming to see so many people turn out peacefully.”
For more, check out the montage above.