- Thursday, March 2, 2023

You’d think that after three years of getting almost everything about COVID-19 wrong, the national news media would pause before reacting hysterically to anything related to the pandemic

But you’d be wrong.

Woody Harrelson, a reliably liberal Hollywood actor, hosted “Saturday Night Live” last weekend and ran afoul of some leftist sensitivities in his opening monologue. He joked that he had recently read a script but turned down the part because the story was simply too crazy to believe.

“The biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes,” was how Mr. Harrelson described the plot. “And people can only come out if they take the cartel’s drugs and keep taking them over and over.”

It was an obvious allegory of the lockdowns we endured, the creation of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the government-imposed mandates that forced people to allow the drug to be injected into their bodies. You know, things that actually happened.

Yet the media howling was immediate and deafening and almost always included one particular word.

The Washington Post ran a headline accusing Mr. Harrelson of pushing a “conspiracy theory” and tried to dismiss him by referring to him as “America’s stoner uncle.”

Forbes’ hyperventilating headline whined, “Woody Harrelson spouts Covid vaccine conspiracy.”

People magazine accused him of “supporting [a] COVID vaccine conspiracy theory.”

USA Today chimed in with a review that said his monologue included a “COVID vaccine conspiracy.”

Variety said he made “COVID conspiracy jokes.”

Do you see a pattern?

The relationship between drug manufacturers and the federal government aside, people, businesses and schools were indeed locked down by government edict in response to the pandemic. And there were mandates that attempted to force people to get the needle, often against their will, and booster shots to follow.

The president of the United States openly tried to compel people to take the vaccine, threatening their jobs if they refused, which resulted in many becoming unemployed. Members of the U.S. military were discharged if they didn’t go along. This isn’t some outlandish tale spun by “America’s stoner uncle.” It all really happened.

It’s astounding that the news media would once again behave — en masse — in such a way after everything Americans have lived through and witnessed over the three years since the pandemic began.

Boiled down, Mr. Harrelson was saying that it’s outrageous that people were sequestered in their homes and forced to take a drug they may not have wanted. And the media’s reaction is, “This man is stoned and dangerous.”

On what planet do they live?

Let’s go through a handful of ideas the media rejected as “conspiracy theories” that have since borne out to be true.

The latest formerly forbidden theory to have been publicly validated is that the coronavirus emanated from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. In rapid succession, the Department of Energy and the FBI expressed the view that the “lab leak theory” was probable. Discussion of this perfectly logical point of view would have previously gotten you shouted down and labeled a racist by leftists and their media allies.

If you objected to wearing a mask in public or doubted its effectiveness, you were accused of wanting to kill people. But in late February, The New York Times ran a piece on a study that concluded that masks made no difference in the transmission of the virus.

If you believed that natural immunity gained from contracting and then recovering from COVID-19 was as good as or better than the vaccine, you were called a danger to society. But NBC News recently reported that natural immunity has been found to be “at least as high, if not higher” protection than the vaccine.

If you thought closing schools was unnecessary and harmful, you were described as a right-wing loon who didn’t care about the safety of students and teachers. But even The Atlantic, a journal of liberal orthodoxy, ran an item in October that declared that “school closures were a failed policy.”

Protecting the prevailing narrative on COVID-19 became almost a religious pursuit for too many journalists while the pandemic was raging, and it’s not hard to guess why.

They all sided with Dr. Anthony Fauci and the approved storyline. They, therefore, viewed any ideas that challenged the established COVID-19 narrative as heresy, or worse, as aiding former President Donald Trump in his 2020 reelection campaign. And they couldn’t have that.

But even as the media lies have been exposed one by one, there’s still the reflex to lash out at perceived heretics, even when it’s just Woody Harrelson joking about something we all know really did happen.

• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist and vice president for communication strategy at National Public Affairs, a political consulting firm.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

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