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In U.S., conservative, liberal media espouse sharply different COVID-19 narratives

(Xinhua)    13:47, July 31, 2020

As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, there are two media narratives on the virus that has killed over 150,000 people in the United States.

Liberal media argues that the public should stay indoors and children should stay home from school until there's a vaccine. In sharp contrast, conservative media contends that people should take the proper safety precautions, but that life should go on as usual.

Conservatives believe left-leaning media puts irrational emphasis on the number of cases, which critics said has stirred panic and led to poor government decisions.

In a polar opposite viewpoint, liberals said conservative media has not taken the deadly virus seriously enough and this could endanger peoples' lives.

Liberal media includes television giants such as CNN, as well as print publications such as The New York Times. Conservative media includes names such as Fox News and Fox Business News, as well as many smaller companies.

Clay Ramsay, a senior research associate at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland, told Xinhua that, for example, tends to bury its COVID-19 coverage under a rash of other stories.

"You have to scroll down a long way, and that's how they cover the pandemic. The rest of the media rank the pandemic, plus the economic crisis that goes with it, within the top 5 stories almost all the time," Ramsay said.

Reflecting an opposing view, Republican Strategist and TV news personality Ford O'Connell told Xinhua that liberal media has caused the public to think that the bubonic plague is "outside their front door".

"The conservative media tends to take a little more of a tempered approach. They're more concerned with the mortality rate and hospitalizations. They are two starkly different approaches," O'Connell said.

One recent poll finds that opinions on how U.S. media is covering the pandemic are split along partisan lines.

Republicans are far less likely than Democrats to think that the news media are doing their jobs and getting accurate reports out to the public. Two-thirds of Democrats say the media's COVID-19 coverage has been largely accurate, while around 31 percent of Republicans agree.

The divide is even larger between Republicans who describe themselves as conservative and Democrats who describe themselves as liberal, according to a report from the Pew Research Center.

However, not all reports have been distinctly on one side or the other, and some are coming out with detailed reports on the science of the virus.

In any event, the coverage of the pandemic is likely to impact the November presidential elections in one way or another, experts said.

In a new Hill-HarrisX poll published Wednesday, 42 percent of registered voters approve of the handling of the coronavirus crisis by the White House, while 58 percent do not. Conservatives believe these low numbers are driven by what they see as biased liberal news coverage of the administration's handling of the pandemic.

Liberals believe negative news reports of the president's handling of the virus are accurate. They also believe that the liberal media's constant reporting on COVID-19 has led to safer public behavior, such as wearing masks.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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