Robert Costa’s latest “drive by” assault on conservatives

Robert Costa of the Washington Post seems determined to give Philip Rucker a run for his money as the most partisan and intellectually dishonest member of the Post’s stable of Trump-hating reporters. His latest entry is called “Some in GOP remain skeptical of illness’s reach and official reaction” (paper edition, the headline on the internet is only marginally better).

The title itself is silly. Everyone should be skeptical of reports on the Wuhan coronavirus’ reach and of the “official reaction,” because no one knows what its reach is or whether the “official reaction” is the correct one. Skepticism in the face of the unknown is a virtue, and is not the same thing as denial.

Costa’s report contains several distortions and unsubstantiated claims, all in the service of his anti-conservative agenda. For example, he writes:

Dark conspiracy theories have also made their way into the forefront of conservative discussions about the pandemic.

David A. Clarke Jr., the former Milwaukee County sheriff and Trump booster, suggested on Sunday that the global panic about the coronavirus was being pushed by Soros — a common subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories — and urged people to take to the streets.

“Not ONE media outlet has asked about George Soros’s involvement in this FLU panic,” Clarke said. “He is SOMEWHERE involved in this.”

This conspiracy theory is not in “the forefront of conservative discussions about the pandemic.” I hadn’t heard or seen it until I read Costa’s screed.

Moreover, Costa asserts that Soros is “a common subject of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” However, he offers no evidence to support the left-wing talking point that harsh criticism of Soros is anti-Semitic.

George Soros is spending vast amounts of money to move America sharply to the left. For example, he subsidizes the campaigns of local prosecutors who don’t want to enforce certain laws and who favor leniency for some criminals.

Naturally, conservatives see Soros as a villain. His religion has nothing to do with our strong dislike of him. The Jewish conservatives I know can’t stand Soros, nor can I.

Costa goes on to write:

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), meanwhile, has joined a right-wing clamor that has largely blamed China for unleashing “this plague on the entire world through their dishonesty and their lack of transparency and corruption.” His efforts come as other conservatives push to define the virus as “Chinese” rather than solely in medical terms, even as Americans with Chinese heritage face xenophobia and growing challenges.

Costa doesn’t deny that China is responsible for the scope of the Wuhan conoravirus’s spread — both by virtue of its practices in the Wuhan area and its attempts to cover up the epidemic early on. Nor does Costa explain why we should “define” (either he means “describe” or he’s being even less intellectually honest than I think he is) the virus in solely medical terms. We didn’t describe the Spanish influenza in solely medical terms.

There are good reasons to describe this coronavirus based on where it originated. First, as noted, that’s what we typically do. China doesn’t deserve special linguistic treatment.

Second, some in China are attempting to attribute the virus to the U.S. Calling it “Chinese” or “Wuhan” is a fair and proper response.

In addition, other things being equal, it’s a good idea to defy the left-wing speech police.

Costa presents no evidence that Americans with Chinese heritage “face xenophobia and growing challenges” because of this virus; much less that they face them because “some in the GOP” are describing the virus based on its country or region of origin; much less that the scope of alleged “xenophobia” is sufficient reason to cover up for Red China’s role. A few schoolyard taunts, if that’s what Costa is talking about, wouldn’t justify covering up China’s role.

These aren’t the only instances of hack advocacy in Costa’s article, but they provide the flavor of it.

Nor is this article the only instance of Costa’s biased reporting and intellectual dishonesty. You can read about others here, here, and here (in a story written with Rucker).

Philip Rucker, beware. There’s a serious contender for your dishonorable crown.

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