Today I’m reminded of the host of media experts who flogged the seriousness and reliability of the Steele dossier for months and years only to evaporate when we later learned that document wasn’t reliable. To his great credit, the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple devoted 10 articles to tracking down some of the dossier’s promoters and asking them how they felt about it in retrospect. As I pointed out at the time, a lot of the journalists he spoke with had no comment. People like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who made the dossier a key part of her program for years simply moved on to greener pastures. There was zero price to pay for being so wrong for so long about something so important.
I’m reminded of that today because of this Twitter thread by Glenn Greenwald highlighted by Twitchy. Greenwald points out that some of the same outlets flogging the the dossier were also confident that a vaccine by the end of the year was a pipe dream. Stop and enjoy the smug condescension in this first clip from MSNBC:
In May — after Trump said there'd be a COVID vaccine by year's end — MSNBC put on its medical expert, @IrwinRedlenerMD, to assure viewers that it was *impossible* — not unlikely, but "impossible" — for there to be a safe and effective vaccine ready before 2021. pic.twitter.com/tLCM8ILHUg
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 15, 2020
So both MSNBC and CNN analysts spread extreme mistrust about the impossibility of the COVID vaccine that has now arrived — purely for their own selfish ends. They spent 4 years saying *anything*, without regard if it was true, just to feed anti-Trump fanatics what they wanted.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 15, 2020
Dr. Redlener has since admitted he was wrong, but Greenwald argues he never made any real effort to get it right. MSNBC’s anti-Trump mandate took precedence. His job was to give people the news of impending failure they wanted and that’s what he did.
Greenwald focuses on a couple of individuals but as this clip put together by MRC TV demonstrates, the naysaying by the media was pretty widespread at the time (though it seemed especially prevalent at MSNBC):
So here we are in mid-December and yesterday we had the first vaccine dose being given to a nurse in New York.
The media oversold the idea that this was impossible because it suited their pre-determined narrative. Now that we know they were wrong is there any accountability for that? I don’t mean people being fired. How about a public admission that they downplayed this and they were wrong. Maybe a few individuals like Dr. Redlener have made those admissions but that still leaves a lot of people who haven’t.
Update: Found a few more of these confident naysayers on Twitter:
Every expert has said that there will be no vaccine before the end of the year, but here is Trump repeating his lie that he wants a vaccine by the end of the year or sooner. pic.twitter.com/iDN8J9cqSD
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) May 15, 2020
Could a vaccine be ready by the end of the year, as President Trump has suggested? @edyong209: “This particular administration has a track record of making exaggerated claims… Optimism isn’t going to deliver one; research will, and research takes a lot of time.” pic.twitter.com/KHw6PFGR8G
— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) May 15, 2020
President Trump said he hopes to have a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year.
“I don't see a path by which any vaccine is licensed — whether it’s emergency use or otherwise — until the third quarter of 2021,” Dr. Peter Hotez says. https://t.co/8GKQJj9VJJ pic.twitter.com/NQaS6zVdRg
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) May 15, 2020
FAUCI: Optimistic that a #COVID19 vaccine will be found in a year or two.
— American Bridge 21st Century (@American_Bridge) May 14, 2020
#coronavirus vaccine doses by year's end as #Trump admin says? Unlikely, says Dr @amyleecp3 whose own team at @ProvHosp is working on vaccines. Also, where's the #CDC playbook? "We'd like to see the CDC unchained". And is the public getting complacent? #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/W5XjZWnmnX
— Michael Holmes (@holmescnn) May 16, 2020
Discussing vaccine timeline with @drsanjaygupta on @CNNSitRoom: I have a hard time seeing how we can get a vaccine developed, manufactured & administered by end of the year, especially seeing the inability of getting widespread testing out. #covid19 pic.twitter.com/sB9KDkbmLf
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) May 15, 2020
And this from the Washington Post:
President Trump’s optimistic assessment that a coronavirus vaccine will be ready by the end of the year just got doused in cold water by a former top vaccine official.
Rick Bright, who directed the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority until his removal last month, urged against rushing the process to develop a vaccine during his testimony before House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.
I’m sure there’s a lot more of this to be found but suffice it to say it was pretty easy to find skeptics in the media thanks to resistance journalism impulses.