COVID-19 is showing how just durable and pervasive the Red-Blue divide is in modern American life. How seriously the crisis is taken depends more on politics than on public health and “there’s a big gap” between Republicans and Democrats.
That’s how Ron Brownstein, senior editor at the Atlantic, reads public opinion polls and reactions of state governors. For the most part, blue-state leaders have closed businesses and imposed social distancing, while red-state leaders have been reluctant to do the same.
What’s the impact of President Trump repeating misinformation at daily press briefings? NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen says it’s causing so much confusion that broadcast and cable news networks should stop airing those briefings in full.
“It’s not a question of turning the microphone off on the president,” Rosen says. “He has the largest microphone in society, but is it the role of journalism to pass on bad information that could be deadly?”
In the meantime, caution is being urged about the billions of dollars in corporate relief, along with cash grants to unemployed workers, approved by the Senate and Congress. University of Texas economist James Galbraith says it’s essential for supply chains to stay open for food, fuel and medicine, while everyone stays inside to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Ron Brownstein warns that President Trump could make the crisis more divisive.
“You could imagine him or other conservatives … basically blaming this on big cities, asking, ‘Why should we shut down the rest of the country to save New York City?’”
Jonathan Parfrey, executive director of Climate Resolve in Los Angeles, responds with a reminder from World War II. “In this historic moment, we need that same sense of common purpose, that we’re coming together to make small sacrifices for such important ends … that we can all do our part in defeating an enemy.”