Bobby Burack, Outkick, August 8, 2021
The sports media crucified Vikings QB Kirk Cousins for much of the week because Cousins has refused the COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, the same press welcomed Ravens QB Lamar Jackson back to practice Saturday with applause after testing positive for COVID a second time. Like Cousins, Jackson has refused the vaccine.
“Why did Kirk Cousins, who didn’t even test positive, get destroyed for multiple days over COVID and Lamar Jackson gets essentially ignored?” Clay Travis asked on Twitter.
The answer: because Kirk Cousins is white and Lamar Jackson is black.
The media’s logic is simple. If ESPN, the New York Times, or USA Today criticize Jackson’s personal decision to avoid the vaccine, the outlets risk someone claiming they are trying to dictate a black man’s health decisions. Just the thought of that response quashes the idea of publicly questioning Jackson’s decision.
By contrast, bashing a white man — whether he’s an athlete, politician, or actor — comes with virtually no downside. Media outlets know that Cousins, because of his skin and gender, is an easy target. It’s a two-for-one. Twitter users will retweet headlines that demand vaccine mandates and share stories that focus negatively on a white QB. Honestly, crushing Cousins is good for Twitter business right now.
Race and politics drive CNN, NBC, ABC, and CBS’s coverage of vaccine hesitancy in America. Therefore, race and politics now dictate how ESPN, Bleacher Report, and the others cover the topic.
Two primary groups have not obeyed demands to get vaccinated: black Americans and staunch conservatives. Both groups share the same concern: they don’t trust the government. Yet only the latter are blamed for, what President Joe Biden and the media call, the “Pandemic of the Unvaccinated.”
At the start of July, the vaccination rate for black people in the U.S. was 15 percent lower than for white people. A subsequent chart found that black people “make up 12 percent of the U.S. population but only account for 9 percent of people who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.”
Viewers of CNN, ABC, NBC, and CBS are stunned. Since they first heard of the Delta variant, they’ve been told that Trump voters, and only Trump voters, are the reason for this latest COVID wave.
The news media will not report vaccine hesitancy among African Americans for the same reason that the sports media won’t cover Jackson’s refusal to get the vaccine. The most you’ll get is a headline that says white people are not doing enough to help ease black Americans’ concerns over the vaccine—anything else, and the media risks one of the usual suspects labeling them racist.
“Don’t blame African Americans for fearing the COVID-19 vaccine. Blame America,” the Chicago Tribune requests.