On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York announced on Twitter that for sale are “New York Tough” posters, personally commissioned by the governor himself, depicting the state’s response to the virus as being “Smart, United, Disciplined and Loving.” The scene includes state residents working together to flatten the curve by pulling a rope down over the peak of a mountain (“The Power of ‘We’”) and a celebration of the state’s response from the making of hand sanitizer to mask-wearing. A rainbow reading “Love Wins” graces the peak, directly below Cuomo’s quoting of himself: “Wake Up America! Forget the Politics! Get Smart!”

The naval-gazing is truly extraordinary, particularly when considering the actual data out of New York.

As of Wednesday, New York has the single highest death total in America and the second highest death total per million population. In the spring, it was the epicenter of the world. A fifth of New York’s death total is nursing home fatalities, largely as the result of Cuomo’s March 25 re-admittance directive. Sunday was the first day since March that the state didn’t record a virus fatality. Rather than entertaining the possibility that this was because the virus swept through New York, wiping out mostly everyone vulnerable in its path (there are now precincts in New York in which over 60 percent of residents have antibodies), the media have joined Cuomo in backslapping over how much better he handled this than everyone else. And Cuomo himself is merely echoing their narrative from the past several months.

If this were Ron DeSantis, he’d be getting skewered right now. But speaking truth to power isn’t narratively convenient for our journalistic watchdogs when the power is Andrew Cuomo. And this is the sort of magnanimous media treatment enjoyed by mostly all Democrats, including California Gov. Gavin Newsome and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, whose respective states reside with New York atop the pack.

Notably, Cuomo’s self-congratulatory artwork is representative of the way in which the media view the pandemic: a great, big pissing contest. The media have made the pandemic into a competition between red and blue states – and, of course, they have the Democrats running away with it. This is a complex contest due to various confounds but made very simple by ignoring those confounds and, above all, pretending that this is a perfectly moral thing to do.

Never mind that there are red states with Democratic governors and blue states with Republican governors; or that there were mass protests following the killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day; or that there are blue as well as red states experiencing a surge in infections – which didn’t begin until after Memorial Day, not in early May when the partial reopening began – and that certain blue states are still surging even though they didn’t partake in the early reopening. 

No, it’s all very simple for the media. There are four red states with Republican governors which led the reopening in May and are now experiencing an upsurge: Georgia, Florida, Texas, and Arizona. These states are very bad and very irresponsible. We don’t hear, of course, that five deep-blue states – New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, and California – lead the nation in death totals. Connecticut, with a population of 3.5 million, out-totals the entire state of Texas – which has a population of 29 million – and is neck and neck with Florida (population of 21 million), which is now remarkably being compared in the media to Wuhan, China.

The media have decided that the pandemic, while devastatingly tragic, is also an opportunity to stick it to Republicans before an election. Thus, we must disregard the data and pretend that the media’s favorites have handled this perfectly and that everything bad has been the result of red-state incompetence at best and impropriety at worst.

It’s clear that the media are lying, omitting and finagling to preserve their narrative and have been for months. The unjustifiable cheering of Cuomo and the deceitful takedown of red states are just parts of the broader attempt to frame an upcoming election in favorable terms for Democrats, and to soften the defensive Republicans will have to mount against malicious and hypocritical accusations of malfeasance.

While we should be pursuing the most effective and reasonable course of action, learning from first-wave mistakes and moving the country forward together, we’re instead comparing death totals by state party leadership and using the deaths of Americans to dunk on political opponents. The media love to frame the debate. And so this is the sort of immoral discourse we’ll have to have. They’ve made this a political competition. Factually speaking, they’re losing that contest. But the good news for the media is that they don’t have to report on it.

(Photo: Flickr/U.S. Department of State/United States government work)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Heroes Media Group