A surprising fact check from a surprising source. After all, CNN spent yesterday morning trying to push the nonsensical claim from Joe Biden’s White House that Donald Trump’ distribution plan for COVID-19 vaccines had been “non-existent,” a claim that flew in the face of 36 million doses distributed to states and 17 million vaccinations delivered by the time Biden walked into the Oval Office. By the end of the day, even liberal journalists were tossing fact-check flags on CNN.
Perhaps this is an effort to wipe the egg off of their collective face:
Biden defended the 100 million goal. He told the reporter: “When I announced it, you all said it’s not possible. Come on, give me a break, man. It’s a good start — 100 million.”
Facts First: Biden’s claim is false; it’s not true that there was an initial media consensus that the 100 million goal was impossible. Some of the early news coverage of the goal did not even question whether it was plausible. Some experts featured in the early coverage, including CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, said the goal was achievable. And while some journalists and experts were more skeptical, cautioning that the goal was ambitious, they did not go so far as to say it was impossible.
Gupta said on CNN on the day of Biden’s announcement in December that the 100 million goal was “very doable” given what we had heard from vaccine manufacturers Moderna and Pfizer. The next morning, CNN medical analyst Dr. Jorge Rodriguez said on air that “it is a realistic goal” given that Biden has a plan.
A brief CNN analysis article said that achieving the goal would be a “massive undertaking” and that Biden generally faced a “wildly daunting” first 100 days in office. But this article, too, did not say that meeting the goal was impossible or even improbable.
Oddly, none of the other fact-checkers have weighed in on this claim yet. It’s certainly a checkable claim, especially given the lie that Biden officials floated anonymously through CNN yesterday about having to start from scratch. Perhaps other media outlets might take an interest in it at some point, but … don’t hold your breath for a stampede of fact-checkers to challenge Biden statements. Even if, as one could easily predict, Biden will provide a rich environment for such material.
So why did CNN lead the way on this? I suspect that it might actually be the aforementioned egg-wiping effort, but it might also be a signal to their sources inside Biden’s White House. CNN got embarrassed for its coverage yesterday, mainly because the claim was so easily checked that its editors should have spiked the claim before it ever aired. They may want to emphasize that playing them in such a manner will result in tougher coverage. Which would be nice, of course, but it would be nicer if CNN just covered Biden with the same vigor they covered Trump in the first place. Don’t hold your breath on that one, either.