- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2020

A pair of nationally trending social media hashtags tells the story: #PelosiHatesAmerica and #DemocratsAreDestroyingAmerica were very popular following the Democratic Party’s successful push to block a GOP-led economic coronavirus stimulus package and replace it with its own 1,400-page version. A multitude of tweets and countermessages followed.

“After engaging in countless hours of good faith negotiations, the Democrats took the bill hostage to push through their radical policy initiatives,” tweeted Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican.

“Now the American people get to see how this Democrat Congress, headed by Nancy Pelosi, doesn’t give a damn about the lives and livelihoods of hurting Americans!” tweeted pro-Trump sister team Diamond and Silk.



Reactions were swift.

“The Democrats just made a huge mistake. They are exploiting a national emergency for the grubbiest of partisan motive,” wrote Roger Kimball, editor of the New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books, in a column for the Spectator.

“At a time when Americans are suffering every day, it’s unacceptable that the left is delaying relief legislation in an attempt to pass a liberal policy wish list,” says Jessica Anderson, vice president of Heritage Action for America.

Meanwhile, it’s politics as usual for the Democrats.

Priorities USA Action, a Democratic Party super PAC, on Tuesday will launch a $6 million ad campaign against President Trump‘s response to the pandemic threat. The title of the TV outreach is “Exponential Threat,” to be shared in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to CNN.

The timing of the attacks may not be prudent, however. As was the case last week, majorities of Americans currently approve of Mr. Trump’s actions during the crisis. Meanwhile, many voters remain perplexed about the Democratic opposition to the economic stimulus package. The two present a public impression that is less than empathetic — and may soon need its own cure.

EVER VIGILANT C-SPAN

A programming note from C-SPAN, which continues to supply straightforward information in a troubled time.

The public affairs network has debuted a special live prime-time edition of “Washington Journal” — its long-standing morning call-in program. The new offering airs 8-9 p.m. EDT on weekday nights with a focus on federal and state response to COVID-19.

“The hour-long program will include expert guests plus viewer calls and reactions to the pandemic,” C-SPAN advises.

MEDIA DOWNPLAYS THE GOOD NEWS

Some now wonder whether the news media is intentionally ramping up public anxiety about the coronavirus.

“Is the media ignoring good news on coronavirus?” asks an editorial by Issues and Insights founder John Merline.

“There has been some tantalizingly good news about the coronavirus in the past few days, not that you’d know it from the end-of-the-world treatment it gets in the press. Of the 10 countries with the most COVID-19 cases, five showed declines in new reported cases over the past few days. In France, the number has been flat for days,” the news organization said, citing other promising developments, including two research studies that showed lower-than-expected death rates from coronavirus in the U.S.

“To be sure, the recent trend data might just be a blip, and these two studies involve relatively small sample sizes and come with lots of caveats. We’re not saying the COVID-19 is nothing to worry about. But these recent developments do raise a question. Will the news media report good news as aggressively as they’ve been reporting the bad? So far, it doesn’t look that way,” Mr. Merline said.

The pandemic also has another influence.

“One of the unheralded casualties of the coronavirus crisis is, oddly enough, the daily news. Let’s face it — no matter what time of day or night you turn on your television, you are likely to be greeted with a barrage of virus video. It’s ‘Hurricane TV’ on steroids, and maybe the crisis justifies the 24/7 obsession, but the question arises: What are we missing?” writes Frank Miele, a columnist for RealClearPolitics.

“Some well-known names are probably relieved that their foibles were overshadowed by the ongoing crisis,” he says, citing former President Bill Clinton, who recently publicly revisited his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, and Andrew Gillum, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Florida governor who was caught in an untoward situation in a motel room.

MASKING THE PROBLEM

Two major news organizations — Bloomberg News and The Los Angeles Times — are pointing the finger at the Obama administration for the impending shortage of N95 respirator masks, a vital item for health care workers, doctors and patients alike during the coronavirus crisis.

“The national shortage can be traced back to 2009 after the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, when the Obama administration was advised to replenish a national stockpile but did not. The Trump administration is scrambling to replenish a stockpile of protective medical gear for health care workers and patients, as the coronavirus sweeps across the nation. N95 respirator masks are one of the most needed medical supplies amid the outbreak,” notes The Washington Examiner, which is also tracking the phenomenon.

There are 12 million N95 masks in the U.S. medical stockpile at the moment; the nation needs 3.5 billion masks, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II.

POLL DU JOUR

78% of U.S. voters are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about their personal finances during the coronavirus crisis.

70% are very or somewhat worried that they or an immediate family member may catch the virus.

63% are very or somewhat confident that local hospitals can effectively respond to the virus.

51% say the U.S. is “doing all it can do” to prevent further cases of coronavirus.

49% approve of the way President Trump is handling the federal government’s response to the pandemic.

Source: An Emerson College/NextStar poll of 1,100 registered U.S. voters conducted March 18-19.

• Helpful information to jharper@washingtontimes.com

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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