China, CNN, and COVID-19 Misinformation

October 26, 2021 Updated: October 26, 2021


Last month, CNN published a rather alarming story that ran with the following headline: “Pro-China misinformation operation attempting to exploit US Covid divisions.”

In the words of the author, Zachary Cohen, a “pro-Chinese government online influence operation is targeting Americans in an effort to exploit divisions over the Covid-19 pandemic.”

This, of course, is alarming. The idea that the Chinese Communist Party is attempting to further divide a country that is already deeply divided should concern us all.

However, CNN is also guilty of running a “misinformation operation to exploit COVID divisions.” Let me explain.

In September, Joe Rogan announced that he had contracted COVID-19. The outspoken podcast host disclosed that he had taken Ivermectin, which was prescribed to him by a doctor, to treat the disease. CNN referred to Ivermectin as a “horse dewormer.” In the words of CNN host Anderson Cooper, the drug was “something more often used to deworm horses.”

In fact, Ivermectin has saved the lives of hundreds of millions of people. It is used to treat both humans and animals, and was used to treat the former long before it was used to treat the latter—a fact that was intentionally omitted from the “Joe Rogan takes horse dewormer narrative.”

Shortly after recovering from COVID-19, Rogan wasted no time in taking aim at CNN for its dishonest, borderline slanderous remarks.

Interestingly, Rogan had support from an unlikely source. In response to the “news” network’s inaccurate coverage, Mary Katherine Ham, a CNN contributor, took to Twitter to voice her outrage. According to the journalist, the coverage surrounding Rogan was thoroughly “dishonest.” Instead of reporting factual information, she argued, CNN opted to “dunk” on the influential commentator. For taking a stand against her employer, Ham should be applauded.

I reached out to CCN for comment on the rather controversial matter. However, no comments were offered.

The “Rogan takes Ivermectin” narrative has played out like a Netflix series, full of twists and turns, heroes and villains, lies and deceit, condemnation and conceit. In the middle of October, the narrative took another twist—Rogan invited Dr. Sanjay Gupta on his podcast. Gupta, for the uninitiated, is CNN’s resident doctor. Throughout the episode, which comes highly recommended, Gupta, not surprisingly, looked more than a little intimidated. Asked if he was embarrassed to work for a network that spreads lie after lie, Gupta offered Rogan a half-hearted apology. The gracious host appeared to accept. Case closed, or so it appeared. A couple of days after the interview went live, Don Lemmon, one of CNN’s most famous and most controversial employees, invited Gupta on his show. Rather incredibly, Lemon had Gupta retract the aforementioned apology. Rogan, in return, had some rather harsh words for Lemon. Expect more twists in this rather trippy tale.

Although CNN has shamed itself with its disingenuous storylines, it doesn’t have a monopoly on misinformation. In the first week of October, The New York Times’ Apoorva Mandavilli wrote an article designed to spread inordinate amounts of fear. According to the author, “nearly 900,000 children have been hospitalized with COVID-19 since the pandemic began.”

Twenty-four hours later, a correction was issued. The actual number of hospitalizations was, in fact, 63,000. In other words, Mandavilli had exaggerated the number by 837,000 cases. But, hey, why let facts get in the way of a really good story?

Because of the proliferation of misinformation surrounding the virus, millions of Americans are left scared and confused. According to a Gallup poll, “92% overstate the risk that unvaccinated people will be hospitalized, and 62% overstate the risk for vaccinated people.” The authors noted that “political affiliation has been a strong predictor of attitudes and behaviors related to disease risks and mitigation.” Those on the left are more likely to exaggerate the threat, while those on the right are more likely to underplay it. When it comes to the threat posed by COVID-19, the MSM’s willingness to spread fear and hysteria, rather than facts and honesty, is nothing short of shameful.

Today, ideologically-driven reporting starts with a conclusion and works its way back to the beginning. Objective analysis, now replaced by predetermined scripts, is considered quaint, even boring. The news has become entertainment—a story’s credibility is judged not by its importance but on its inherent shock value. Such an approach to reporting is a recipe for unquantifiable amounts of disaster. People are left disoriented, scratching their heads, desperately attempting to separate the factual from the fictional. The mouth can only speak what the eyes see and the ears hear; sadly, we are seeing and hearing a lot of lies. Is it any wonder that Americans’ trust in mainstream media is at an all-time low?

As you can see, one needn’t live in China to be fed fact-free narratives.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the likes of the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, The Spectator US, and other respectable outlets. He is also a psychosocial specialist, with a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.