Misinformation and the coronavirus…beyond social networks. The fatal six key days, according to The Associated Press

Misinformation and the coronavirus…beyond social networks. The fatal six key days, according to The Associated Press

On April 15 The Associated Press launched an accusation (did it?) in its first serious report of the Chinese government cover-up (they never actually used this word) of the novel coronavirus problem: China didn’t warn the public of a likely pandemic for 6 key days.

And here is the core of the report:

“The six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus and when President Xi Jinping warned the public January, 20.”

Let’s examine critically the “core argument” of the whole piece paying attention to the dates, since dates are so relevant for The Associated Press, according to the title of the piece; and they are quite important, no doubt as titles give the main idea of what will be read – often by distracted readers, as we usually are – and are the only thing that 80% of people will later remember.

What The Associated Press presents as "expert estimates based on retrospective infection data" comes from a number of CDC Weekly Reports (Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention) published on February 20! It might be that the AP got that official date from other sources, since the official Chinese date (coming from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention) is not quoted in its piece. Other journalists instead had done their job before and had no problem quoting their sources, like Jim Geraghty.

Jim Geraghty had already done his own research and published it in the National Review (“The Comprehensive Timeline of China’s COVID-19 Lies")... on March 23 - three weeks before AP. Pity that Geraghty, who has followed the issue closely, does not work for AP but for National Review, a politically conservative magazine. It would be highly unlikely that The Associated Press would quote him – if ever AP had such a thought.

Jim Geraghty had solid sources nevertheless: The Lancet (January 24), and The New England Journal of Medicine (January 29) which presented evidence of human transmission, denied by the World Health Organization until January 22 and, of course, denied by Chinese authorities.

So, The Associated Press is allowed to delay crucial news by SEVENTY-FIVE DAYS, even after a careful assessment by its own experts, while ridiculing the Chinese government for a SIX DAY delay with an easy rhetorical trick, adding just a single adjective: the key six days.

Many newspapers and other news agencies around the world have been buying this narrative.

There are more ironies about The AP narrative regarding the “SIX fatal days of China Government delay at confronting the coronavirus pandemic.”

This is another irony: On April 6, the Chinese government published its own timeline of the country’s battle with the epidemic to show its intention of “seeking international collaboration.”

Any connection? Has The AP been prompted to react to the Chinese government propaganda? Well, The AP finally came out with its own report NINE days after the official Chinese report. Aside from the conflict of these delays in publishing, the press agency also never once quoted the Chinese report.

It is, nonetheless, the first report by The Associated Press “denouncing” the fatal Chinese SIX daylong delay to inform the Chinese people – and also the world as a whole.

The problem is that both timelines, the one provided by the Chinese propaganda machine and the one provided by AP - after its own presumed careful research - are false in the first case, and wrong in the second case. I am not speaking of days of technicalities: Don’t Trust the Chinese Government’s COVID-19 Timeline.

So, did the AP really denounce the Chinese government? After all, six days in such a major worldwide crisis is not that long. Or is AP giving a hand, maybe in a subtle way, to poor Xi Jinping who has been dealing with a nightmare? Or... is Associated simply forgiving itself its shortcomings and moving on without acknowledging its mistake?

The reputed press agency arrived on the scene SEVENTY-FIVE DAYS after, with misinformation, to a disaster that had been in the making since December 2019. Oh, the interesting mysteries of journalism…