ABC’s Cecilia Vega and PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor Play the Race Card - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
ABC’s Cecilia Vega and PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor Play the Race Card
At the White House on March 19 (YouTube screenshot)

NewsBusters headlined the story this way:

ABC, PBS Team Up to Call Trump ‘Racist’ During COVID-19 Presser

The story reported this:

During Wednesday’s coronavirus press conference at the White House, ABC’s Cecilia Vega and PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor worked together to claim that President Trump’s use of the term “Chinese virus” was “racist” and “puts Asian Americans at risk.” Alcindor even touted rumors of an unknown administration official using an offensive term to describe the disease.

“Why do you keep calling this the Chinese virus? There are reports of dozens of incidents of bias against Chinese Americans in this country.… Why do you keep using this?,” Vega asked accusingly as the President took questions in the 12:00 p.m. ET hour. After Trump explained, “Because it comes from China,” Vega declared: “A lot of people say it’s racist.”

And, oh yes, here, courtesy of NewsBusters, is MSNBC’s John Heilemann chiming in with this, bold print supplied in the original:

The President says, “No, this is not racist at all,” when, of course, it’s nakedly racist and obviously racist and blatantly racist. I ask you: Is this not the most predicable thing in the world, that, for Donald Trump, it wouldn’t be enough to go to war against a virus, it would be all but better if the war could be waged a non — if the virus could be pinned on a nonwhite population and a population of a country that is one of our economic adversaries that plays straight down the middle of his sort of xenophobic, populist foreign policy? This kind of seems like a golden opportunity for it to play to — to rip a page out of the Trump political playbook and just apply it to this pandemic by creating a Chinese virus?

Where does one even begin to address such stunning ignorance and racial condescension from reporters assigned to cover the president of the United States? Or from an MSNBC host?

And oh yes. Heilemann, Vega, and Alcindo surely believe Barack Obama was nakedly racist when his Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius issued this statement in 2013, per the Obama Department of Health and Human Services, that said:

As of this date, I hereby determine that there is a significant potential for a public health emergency that has a significant potential to affect national security or the health and security of United States citizens living abroad and that involves Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

On the basis of this determination, I also hereby declare that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) pursuant to section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3, subject to the terms of any authorization issued under that section.

Kathleen Sebelius

This question was discussed here in this very space before the two reporters and Heilemann played the race card. But let me repeat and expand. As noted earlier:

Apparently white Americans must now be belatedly incensed that Lyme disease was named for a town in Connecticut that, according to Wikipedia, had a census-recorded population that is 98.2 percent white.

Not to mention that according to this logic they should also be infuriated with the racially insensitive World Health Organization, which has posted this page that is headed:

Lyme Borreliosis (Lyme disease)

And surely white Germans believe the World Health Organization is racist for posting this page on its website. The title

Marburg virus disease.

But let’s expand a bit more, sticking with the source pages of the WHO:

  • Here is the WHO on the “Ebola-Reston” virus. This strain of Ebola was named for not one but two geographic locations. “Ebola” is the name of a river in the northern Congo. “Reston” is the town in Virginia where the “Reston Virus” was first discovered in a laboratory studying monkeys infected with Ebola.
  • Here is WHO on the “Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).” The “Middle East” designation is because the disease first arose in Saudi Arabia.
  • Here is WHO on the West Nile Virus. This virus was named for the West Nile region of Africa, where it was initially discovered.
  • Here is WHO with “Travel health advice on Zika virus” — named for the Zika Forest in Uganda.
  • Here is WHO on the Lassa Fever — named for the town of Lassa, Nigeria.
  • Here is WHO on St. Louis Encephalitis in the United States — named, of course, for the American city of St. Louis, Missouri.

And a move over to the Centers for Disease Control and one finds listings for the following:

And there is more of this practice of naming diseases for the places they originated. The locations are all over the world and encompass all races. In fact, the 1957 flu pandemic was named, yes, the Asian Flu. It was first discovered in, yes, Asia — China.

What ABC’s Cecilia Vega and PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor did, along with MSNBC’s John Heilemann, was inject race into the decidedly routine practice of naming a disease or virus for its geographical location. And to do it in the middle of a serious pandemic that has frightened people around the globe is despicable. To borrow from Heilemann, it is “nakedly racist.”

Not to mention that to suggest a disease discovered in China shouldn’t be named for its location as are all these other diseases suggests on the face of it that somehow China is not an equal and must be condescended to. But it’s Trump who is the racist? Really?

Apologies forthcoming? Apologies to both the president and the American people for playing the race card in the middle of a serious national emergency?

Don’t wait up.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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