CNN spent nearly two years sounding the alarm on all things COVID, from advocating for vaccine and mask mandates to condemning skeptical voices challenging conventional wisdom, but the liberal network has pivoted as the omicron surge has impacted viewers who were following guidance throughout the pandemic.
“It appears the rhetorical narrative in the news agenda might finally be responding to what many independent-minded Americans have been thinking for many months,” DePauw University professor Jeffrey McCall told Fox News Digital.
The liberal network became synonymous with its doom-and-gloom, on-screen COVID tracker early in the pandemic. In August, Jim Acosta scolded Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for “prolonging” the pandemic and dubbed the delta variant the “DeSantis variant”; by September Don Lemon was calling on Americans to shun “stupid” unvaccinated people; and a guest on struggling morning show “New Day” last month suggested unvaccinated patients should receive treatment “last” while anchor Brianna Keilar chimed in that “a lot of people are interested” in the idea. The remarks were among countless moments in which CNN used polarizing rhetoric throughout the ongoing pandemic. But things have quickly changed.
On Sunday, CNN’s in-house media critic Brian Stelter asked if the media is “out of touch with the public about COVID” during a segment critical of the CDC that would have been unthinkable for the network only a few weeks ago. In recent days, anchor Wolf Blitzer and chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta criticized the Biden administration over “confusing” COVID guidelines, anchor Victor Blackwell asked why he had to wear a mask as a vaccinated person who already had the virus, medical analyst Leana Wen declared cloth masks are useless, and the network promoted its jam-packed New Year’s Eve celebration after months of warning against large crowds. A CNN panelist on Sunday even criticized the Biden administration’s mixed messaging.
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