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Here Are The Media’s Biggest Coronavirus Flubs, Contradictions, And Walk-Backs

(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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The media has criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus from the outset, but many of those criticisms have fallen flat, or even had to be walked back.

Approval ratings for the Trump administration have fluctuated throughout the coronavirus pandemic, taking a dip in February but recovering through March. As the pandemic has progressed, the media has stumbled into contradicting its earlier reporting and fumbling stories on Trump’s missteps.

We’ve assembled all the biggest media blunders of the coronavirus episode so far. (RELATED: TRUMP: ‘I Would Love To Have The Country Open By Easter’)

Travel Restrictions:

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 19: President Donald Trump speaks during a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters,on March 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. With Americans testing positive from coronavirus rising President Trump is asking Congress for $1 trillion aid package to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 19: President Donald Trump speaks during a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters,on March 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. With Americans testing positive from coronavirus rising President Trump is asking Congress for $1 trillion aid package to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images)

President Trump’s opening salvo in America’s fight against the coronavirus were travel restrictions on majorly-affected areas, specifically across China.

The initial reaction to that move from Democrats and the media alike was one of shock.

“The Coronavirus travel ban could backfire,” one CNN headline read. The story went on to suggest Trump’s move could be a “pretext for discrimination.”

The New York Times criticized the move as ineffective. (RELATED: Trump Questions Whether Coronavirus Response Is Overblown)

“At this point, sharply curtailing air travel to and from China is more of an emotional or political reaction, said Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota,” according to the NYT article.

Many in the scientific community beclowned themselves because their hatred for Trump blinded them—and does to this day. pic.twitter.com/QjF8zfkCB0

— Lyndsey Fifield (@lyndseyfifield) March 19, 2020

But while his decision to restrict travel from China was treated as draconian then, his opponents now claim he did too little.

Did Trump Call Coronavirus A ‘Hoax’?:

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 12: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) look on at a press conference with DACA recipients to discuss the Supreme Court case involving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) at the U.S. Capitol on November 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. On Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case related to President Donald Trumps decision of ending the DACA program. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In late February, numerous outlets and media figures made the now-infamous false claim that Trump called the coronavirus a “hoax” at one of his campaign rallies.

“So, here’s the response of the Trump team and its allies to the coronavirus, at least so far: It’s actually good for America. Also, it’s a hoax perpetrated by the news media and the Democrats,” Paul Krugman of NYT wrote.

“Now Trump faces his first major crisis. And he’s … holding a political rally where he calls the coronavirus a ‘hoax,'” said Washington Post Columnist Dana Milbank. (RELATED: VP Pence And Wife Test Negative For Coronavirus)

Outlets followed suit, before many changed their headlines to something more accurate. Politco’s headline read “Trump rallies his base to treat coronavirus as a ‘hoax.'”

A Daily Caller fact check found that Trump had in fact referred to the alleged “politicizing” of the coronavirus by Democrats as “their new hoax.” He did not refer to the coronavirus itself as a hoax. Throughout the speech, Trump reiterated his administration is taking the threat of the coronavirus seriously.

‘Wuhan Virus’:

Donald Trump urged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to work “hard” and act fast to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, during their meeting in Beijing on November 9, warning that “time is quickly running out”. / AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)

While media reporters suggested to president Trump that his referring to the coronavirus as the “China virus” was racist, a look into the very-recent past shows that it was these very same outlets, not Trump who pioneered terms like “Wuhan virus” and the “China coronavirus.”

This criticism came despite numerous diseases being named after their places of origin or of widely-reported outbreaks. Diseases like Lyme disease, Ebola, Spanish flu, and the West Nile Virus are all named in this manner.

But the term wasn’t racist in January, however, when TIME published about the “Wuhan coronavirus.” And dozens of media figures joined them.

Vox even released a video explaining “Why new diseases keep appearing in China,” referencing the country’s habit of eating wildlife on a regular basis.

For the most part, however, these articles, explainers, and clips have been swept under the rug once Trump and other Republicans took to referring to the disease as “Chinese.”

Trump Makes People Eat Fish Tank Cleaner?

Donald Trump, Fish Tank (Getty Images, Shutterstock, Daily Caller)

Donald Trump, Fish Tank (Getty Images, Shutterstock, Daily Caller)

After a man died and his wife was hospitalized in Arizona after they ingested fish tank cleaner, many in the media pointed to Trump as being responsible.

The issue arose after Trump called for the FDA to explore the anti-malaria drug chloroquine’s potential use against the coronavirus.

Trump said at several press conferences that the U.S. should begin prescribing it. Chloroquine also happens to be an ingredient in a cleaning agent for aquariums.

Despite Trump never recommending that anyone self-medicate for the coronavirus, Axios fingered Trump as responsible before ultimately walking back the claim.

The wife of the man who died said they used the drug because they heard Trump recommend it. Trump never encouraged people to self-medicate with the drug, however. (RELATED: Germany Bans Meetings Of More Than Two People)

President Donald Trump directed Federal Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn to waive “outdated rules and bureaucracies” on the testing of various “anti-viral therapies” to combat coronavirus last week.