What CNN has probably discovered is not that Texas’ reopening is driving an increase in cases. Instead, it seems to have discovered yet another outbreak in meatpacking plants, a story on which CNN has reported elsewhere and which has been covered in the Lone Star State for going on a month now. These outbreaks should not be waved away; they represent a genuine problem, though this problem is mitigated by the fact that there are relatively few sick and/or elderly workers on meatpacking floors. At the same time, it has very little to do with the merits of re-opening the economy at this point.

Getting this right is important because the stakes are incredibly high here. The only way we get this right, however, is if we’re supplied with a proper balance of good news and bad news. Right now, much of the media is in full bore “bad news” mode.

This skewed information diet makes it difficult to sort things out correctly, but it has an additional negative consequence. The viewer/reader will decide for him- or herself whether this is misfeasance or malfeasance on CNN’s part, but regardless, at this point in the pandemic it ought to know to check things like the testing rate and whether there are idiosyncratic outbreaks in prisons or meatpacking plants. If you are someone who believes that the media has an important gatekeeping function in slowing the spread of misinformation and disinformation, then having a major media company spreading what is dangerously close to disinformation impairs that function and erodes overall public confidence in an important institution for democracy.