Politico scolds New York Times writer over ‘irresponsible’ COVID coverage that goes against liberal dogma

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Politico scolds New York Times writer over ‘irresponsible’ COVID coverage that goes against liberal dogma

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Politico scolded New York Times senior writer David Leonhardt, who pens the Gray Lady’s flagship newsletter “The Morning,” Thursday for COVID-19 coverage that has reportedly irked some medical professionals by going against liberal dogma. 

Leonhardt has stood out with his more sober coronavirus coverage compared to the stridently negative tone of other outlets. He has said “we might be at a turning point with COVID” and suggested Americans need to pivot and deal with the virus without shutting down daily life. Politico called him “arguably the most influential of the COVID influencers” but claimed many experts have found problems with his work.

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“He has positioned himself as the pundit who punches holes in public health orthodoxy, who shuns the ‘bad news bias’ of journalism, who offers soothing rationality — grounded in his years of Pulitzer-winning reporting on economics — in the face of what he calls ‘COVID alarmism,'” Politico’s Joanne Kenen wrote. “Over the last few months, a long-simmering critical conversation among public health experts about Leonhardt’s take and his outsize influence has become more audible. And we don’t just mean on Twitter.”

Politico scolded New York Times senior writer David Leonhardt for COVID coverage that has reportedly irked medical professionals. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for New York Times)

Politico scolded New York Times senior writer David Leonhardt for COVID coverage that has reportedly irked medical professionals. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for New York Times)
(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for New York Times)

Kenen reported that “notable doctors and scientists have written to the Times” to “to poke holes in Leonhardt’s coverage” of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“They say that he cherry-picks sources and data, giving too much weight to people who may have medical expertise but not on infectious disease; that he argues strenuously for open schools but downplays the COVID risks for kids as well as their role in spreading the virus; that he held out Britain’s vaccination strategy as a model (right before the U.K. itself reversed course); that he underestimates how many Americans — not all over age 65 — are at elevated risk or live with people at elevated risk,” Kenen wrote. “He tends, they say, to look at the virus’ impact on individuals, not the pandemic’s impact on society.”

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The Politico writer then cited tweets from Johns Hopkins School of Nursing director Cecilia Tomori, who criticized Leonhardt in a series of messages

“What we learn from this episode is not really what Americans think about the pandemic, but rather Leonhardt’s flawed interpretations thereof. It’s amazing that someone who has consistently minimized the impacts of COVID and has expressed little concern for those dying or suffering, or becoming disabled from COVID continues to have the opportunity to claim authority about this topic. To argue that we should just get on with life because boosted individuals (like himself) face relatively low personal risk of death from the virus misses so much,” Tomori wrote in a thread that captioned a Times’ tweet promoting Leonhardt’s appearance on a podcast. 

“The entire framing is wrong,” Tomori added

David Leonhardt writes the Gray Lady’s flagship newsletter "The Morning."

David Leonhardt writes the Gray Lady’s flagship newsletter “The Morning.”
(iStock)

Politco obtained a letter send to the Times by “a group of prominent pandemic experts” who blasted Leonhardt as “irresponsible and dangerous,” according to Kenen. 

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The New York Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Politico spoke with Leonhardt, who told the publication he speaks with all types of experts but focuses on pandemic responses that have “big costs,” with education and mental health among the examples. 

“If the goal — as it should be — is to protect people’s health and well-being, we need to look at it holistically,” Leonhardt told Politico. 

This week was also marked by a liberal uproar over journalist Bari Weiss and progressive comedian Bill Maher decrying coronavirus restrictions last week and calling for a return to normal.



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