A group of journalism professors from universities around the country published a letter on Saturday, asking television networks to stop airing President Donald Trump’s daily Wuhan coronavirus briefings. The letter claims that the briefings have become “a platform for misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19.”
According to a report by The Wrap, a group of journalism professors is asking television network executives to stop broadcasting President Trump’s daily coronavirus briefing on the basis that they have become a “serious public health hazard.” The letter claims that President Trump has used the briefings to spread misinformation about the Chinese virus.
The letter, which was drafted by journalism professors at the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and Columbia University, was addressed to network and cable news executives at ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and CNN.
The letter specifically calls on television networks to suspend the live broadcast of Trump’s coronavirus briefings. However, the professors argue that it is permissible for the networks to present an edited version of the briefing that only contains updates from health officials about Chinese virus mitigation efforts.
We write to demand that the live, unedited airing of the Daily White House Task Force Briefings stop. Because Donald Trump uses them as a platform for misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19, they have become a serious public health hazard—a matter of life and death for viewers who cannot easily identify his falsehoods, lies and exaggerations. We ask that all cable channels, broadcast stations, and networks (with the exception of C-SPAN) stop airing these briefings live. Instead, they should first review the briefings and, after editing, present only that information that provides updates from health officials about the progress and ongoing mitigation of the disease.
The letter goes as far as to request that television networks suspend the live broadcast of any event featuring President Trump. According to the professors that drafted the letter, journalists should “independently verify” information shared at Trump events before preparing it for broadcast.
We ask that no speech, rally, or press conference involving the president be covered live anymore. The risk of passing along bad information and harmful advice is too great. News organizations need to attend carefully to what he says and only share information that they can independently verify. By asking themselves “is what he said something we should be amplifying?” news organizations can offset the damage these briefings are producing.
Journalism and media studies professors have been encouraged to add their names to the letter. At this point, it is unclear how many professors have signed the letter.
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