Even on COVID-19, Left and Right Are Divided

If there is one thing on which you’d think left and right could agree, it would be the proper response to the present coronavirus. After all, COVID-19 doesn’t distinguish between left and right: Conservatives and liberals are just as likely to contract and even die from it.

Yet, it’s amazing how consistently left and right differ on even this issue.

Virtually every opinion piece in The New York Times, The Washington Post and every other mainstream, i.e., left-wing, journal share two characteristics: a sense of foreboding (millions will die) and an unshakeable conviction that to prevent mass death, the world’s economy must be shut down.

Meanwhile, virtually every opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal and on just about every conservative website contains less foreboding and asks more questions about whether the cure may be worse than the disease. To cite some examples:

March 11: Ben Shapiro published a piece titled “Our Fears About Coronavirus Are Overblown.”

March 16: The Hoover Institution published a piece by Richard A. Epstein that’s thesis was: “I believe that the current dire models radically overestimate the ultimate death toll.”

March 16: City Journal published conservative thinker Victor Davis Hanson’s piece that’s thesis was: “Our response could prove as harmful as the virus itself.”

March 17: My column titled “Why the Remedy May Be Worse Than the Disease” appeared on many conservative sites.

March 19: The lead Wall Street Journal editorial was titled “Rethinking the Coronavirus Shutdown.”

March 19: A column titled “Will the Costs of a Great Depression Outweigh the Risks of Coronavirus?” appeared on The Federalist’s website.

March 24: The Wall Street Journal published a column by two Stanford professors of medicine titled “Is the Coronavirus as Deadly as They Say?”

Meanwhile, the liberal and left-wing media published hundreds of articles warning us of millions of deaths if we don’t shut down the American economy.

Or take the example of President Donald Trump’s announcement at a press conference on March 19 that hydroxychloroquine had “shown really good promise” in helping to cure COVID-19.

Virtually every left-wing news medium mocked him for making that claim.

March 21: “AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s Breathless Takes on Drugs for Virus.”

They implicitly or explicitly blamed the president for the death of an Arizona man who ingested a fish tank cleaner because it contained chloroquine phosphate (because the name sounds similar to hydroxychloroquine).

March 24: CBS News published a story headlined “Arizona Man Dies, Wife Ill After Taking Drug Touted as Virus Treatment: ‘Trump Kept Saying It Was Basically Pretty Much a Cure.'”

March 24: The left-wing site BuzzFeed simply lied about that story in order to blame the president: “A Man Died After Self-Medicating With a Form of a Drug That Trump Promoted as a Potential Treatment for the Coronavirus.”

March 24: The left-wing St. Louis Post-Dispatch did the same in its headline: “Man Dies After Taking Chloroquine Phosphate, Additive in Drug Touted by Trump as COVID-19 Treatment.”

March 24: The Democratic governor of Nevada, Steve Sisolak, issued an order that, in the words of the Nevada Health Response, “prohibits (the) prescribing and dispensing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for a COVID-19 diagnosis.”

A particularly egregious example of the left-right divide on the coronavirus response appeared in The Washington Post on March 27. One of its columnists, Max Boot, wrote:

“Radio host Dennis Prager bemoaned our unwillingness to sacrifice lives as we did during World War II, saying ‘that attitude leads to appeasement’ and ‘cowardice.’ The United States lost 418,500 people in World War II … but it would be far worse to lose 2.2 million civilians — the worst-case estimate of the U.S. death toll if we let the novel coronavirus spread unimpeded.”

On my radio show and in my weekly PragerU “Fireside Chat,” I criticized New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the way he defended shutting down his state: “I want to be able to say to the people of New York: I did everything we could do. … And if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.”

It is hard to imagine a more morally absurd sentiment. Anyone who thinks rationally knows it is not worth depriving millions of people of their incomes, forcing thousands of companies to go out of business, causing recovering addicts to lapse back into addiction and much more economic and social damage to “save one life.”

As we are fighting a “war” against the virus, I used a war analogy to make my point. I noted that if we had fought World War II with the attitude that we cannot lose one life, we would never have fought the Nazis or the Japanese. I further noted that we do not make any social policy based on saving one life. For example, every time we raise the speed limit, we know thousands more people will die.

But the left went nuts. Max Boot in The Washington Post is only one example.

So, then, why this left-right gulf?

One reason, as I have written previously, is that hysteria is to the left what oxygen is to biological life. Leftists pride themselves on being rational. But the further left one goes, the more feelings displace reason.

A second reason is hatred of Trump. On the left, damaging Trump is more important than truth and more important than the welfare of the American people. If Trump believes hydroxychloroquine offers hope, let’s debunk its usefulness.

A third reason is leftists are afraid — of life and of death. Fear of life is why they build “safe spaces” on campuses for students who cannot handle a visiting speaker with whom they differ. And they are afraid of death. They undoubtedly find Patrick Henry’s famous cry, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” incomprehensible, if not downright foolish.

Even COVID-19 has brought no cease-fire in the ongoing American civil war.

Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” came to theaters fall 2019. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.


Last Updated: Monday, Mar 30, 2020 18:57:02 -0700

Off the Cuff: Whatever Happened to “Believe Women?”

You’re not hearing much about a sexual assault allegation against presidential candidate, Joe Biden. This wouldn’t be the case if he were a Republican. That’s the topic of my new “Off the Cuff” audio commentary (a special Monday edition).

You can listen to it by clicking on the play (arrow) button below.


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You Have the Right to Remain Stupid

The vicious contagion presents perhaps the most significant personal opportunity for change in our lifetimes.  That’s because the bustle has broken down.  The pursuit of money, sex, power, and other magnets are all on hold. We are now apart from the daily machine that can grind us into unthinking, callous people.  At least most of us are.

So, how about some introspection?  Some inward evaluation.  An honest appraisal of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Maybe we start with the country and then we’ll get to what’s really important – our own selves – as the country singers might say.

An essential question for me is: how did this country get so hateful?

If you are following the contagion news, you know the blame game has kicked in.  It’s the ‘Trump virus,’ according to a New York Times columnist. Another far left writer in that liberal journal (it no longer meets the standards of a newspaper) says the virus is enabled by ultra-religious Christians who ‘deny science.’  Of course, she ties that into the climate change debate as well as President Trump.

On the right, some loons accuse China of weaponizing the contagion without a shred of evidence to back up the claim.

With so much craziness available on the net, often disseminated by corporate media, the divisive atmosphere has fueled a unique kind of American loathing.  Many of us actively despise those with whom we disagree.

Thus, in our newfound downtime, we might think about whether we are a part of the loathing movement and if we are, whether that is enhancing our individual lives.

And then there is ‘what your country can do for you.’ President Kennedy rejected that sentiment, but today the concept is warmly embraced by millions of Americans who firmly believe in the Bernie Sanders doctrine: that the government should provide.  No need for self-reliance, that’s for fools.  A vast central power structure will dictate what Americans can and cannot have.  We the people are not the deciders.  Bernie and his comrades would be.

It is simply incredible to me, a son of the Cold War, that socialism is on the rise in America.  Perhaps during the contagion we can think hard about our individual freedoms which are under assault from the virus.  Do you like being told how to live and where you can go?  How about you, Democratic Party, are you embracing the restrictions we are seeing?  They are obviously necessary.  But they are also a vivid message. This is what can happen all the time when big government totalitarians rule.

On the social front, are you a due process denier?  Do you condemn neighbors based on gossip?  Are you supportive of the trend that all allegations are convictions?  When Brett Kavanaugh was almost destroyed, it was an accusation, not hard facts, that brought him to the brink.  One brave woman, Senator Susan Collins, saved him.  Hundreds of our elected officials embraced the noose.

Finally, what about you?  Do you fear the virus?  Why?  Are you afraid to die?  Do you fear giving the contagion to people you love? Are strangers part of the equation?  Do you feel for the suffering and dying?  Do you pray for them?  Do you pray at all?

All throughout history the world has suffered as it is suffering now.  Those who see the big picture understand that dreadful plagues, wars, natural disasters, and human atrocities are all part of earthly existence.

People who accept that and learn from the viral calamity, are likely to prosper in the aftermath.

People who see themselves as victims and who lament the loss of individual pursuits, will stay in place.  And, in America, we still have that right – to remain selfish and even more harshly – to remain stupid.

Bernie’s Q&A: Trump, Maher, the Coronavirus Crisis, Rooney, and more! (3/27) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)

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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):

I have watched the WH press conferences each day. Certainly the most important of this century so far. A couple noticeable observations. First, many questions are getting dumber by the day. Second, John Roberts of Fox seems to be asking the technical and specific questions that I want asked. Am I alone on this opinion? — Tim H.

You are not alone, Tim. Some of the questions, thankfully, are good ones. Some are politically motivated. That said, the president should not dismiss legitimate questions because the answer might make him look bad. As for John Roberts, I’m with you.  He does a good job.

I notice a lot of liberals on social media commenting about racist physical attacks against Asian people because of the coronavirus. I think most people of any political persuasion would condemn these racist attacks, though I see that the virtue signaling liberals are immediately blaming Trump and his racism for causing these attacks. What I’m NOT seeing are white people in MAGA hats committing these awful acts of racist violence. In fact, the one video I did see shows a black guy attacking an Asian woman. I could try to point this out, but I don’t because I get the impression that I might as well be howling at the moon since I don’t think even a video or other proven facts would change any minds. In all likelihood I suspect that the liberals would attack me with accusations of racism simply because I pointed out sone discomforting facts to them. Why do you think that is? Your thoughts are always welcome. — Virtue Signaling Regards From The Emperor

You are right on the money, Emperor. As you say, racist attacks are not defensible — under any circumstances. But to blame the president, because he calls it the “China virus” is both despicable and predictable. The left will blame him for a snowstorm in the Arctic Circle if they think they can get away with it. And you’re also right, Your Highness, that there’s a good chance YOU’D be called a bigot if you point out some “discomforting facts.” The left doesn’t have a monopoly on CRAZY, but at times it sure looks like they’re trying to corner the market.

Bernie, my liberal friends are the same way [as you described in Monday’s column]. There is no debating the cost to the economy with these folks or the severity of the illness. It is either you believe this will kill millions and be Trumps fault, or you are just as bad as Trump. One of my liberal friends is no longer speaking to me since I questioned his comments about the pandemic. Which leads to my question, how can this be worth it if all you get at the end of the day is a totally destroyed and ripped apart country? What is the point of being President if you have no nation to lead? — Joe M.

The battle to prevent a medical and health catastrophe may lead to an economic catastrophe. That’s the very difficult situation we find ourselves in.  But let’s defer to the experts: If we send people back to work too soon, hoping to get the economy back on its feet, we’ll wind up with an economic disaster anyway; it’ll just come a little later — and cause more health misery in the process. It’s a tough one, Joe. Let’s hope we come up with a solution that saves human lives and the economy too.

Here’s something I found on National Review Online by Kevin Williamson … which, I think, bolsters my point:

‘We do not know what the economic consequences of a worsening epidemic would be. The measures we are taking right now impose terrible economic costs, but a catastrophic epidemic — one that is orders of magnitude worse than what we are experiencing right now — would impose terrible economic costs, too, on top of an unthinkable amount of death and suffering.”

I don’t quite get it when people like Bill Maher, etal say “we can’t survive another Trump term” Ok so he and many like him hate his guts, fine, but the man has come through on many things, bet Maher was loving what the economy was doing for his savings accounts, did he not agree with the Civil Rights Reform act? Didn’t care for the record unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics, not to mention historic lows overall? Trashing NAFTA and reconstructing it was not to their liking? So what won’t they be able to survive if he should somehow be re elected? — John M.

You’re making one mistake John. Just one. You’re being rational. Bill Maher isn’t. And to try to be rational with an irrational person is a waste of time. Let’s leave it at this: We’re right, they’re wrong.

Bernie do you see the hypocrisy of the right? For eight years everything Obama did would ruin the country. If you asked Fox News, birthers, or any of his haters. But I don’t remember you putting those people in check. I know you don’t like things about Trump. But you still seem to go out of your way to give his followers a pass. Trust me the level of love, and accept everything Trump does by his base is epic. And the amount of hate and ill will they spew on social media is just as bad as the Trump haters. My question to you is. Do you really believe you are equally critical of Trump’s base as you are on his haters? — Douglas S.

A couple of things, Douglas.  I have written REPEATEDLY about Trump loyalists — and not in a good way. I can only assume you haven’t read my MANY columns where I put them in the crosshairs.

Beyond that, a commentator has to be fair, but does not have to be down the middle. Some things bother me more than others. Some things bother liberal commentators more than others.  Right-wing stupidity annoys the hell out of me. But liberals are the ones constantly telling us how caring and good and decent and smart they are. So when they drop the ball, it interests me probably a little more than if Sean Hannity did something stupid. You see, Douglas, I expect nothing from goofballs on the right. The left, on the other hand, tells me to expect more from them, so I do — and point out their hypocrisy when they’re guilty of hypocrisy.

Finally, please re-read my first answer to your question. It’s important that you understand how often I’ve taken Trump loyalists to task. Every time I do, I hear from them. So I plead NOT GUILTY to the charge. But thanks Douglas, for asking.

What, if any, bias in did you notice in John Roberts’ interview with Michigan’s Democratic Gov. on Fox News Sunday? — Bob H.

I watched.  Didn’t register to be honest.  Didn’t notice anything especially interesting one way or the other. Please get back to me and let me know what you’re suggesting.  Thanks, Bob.

Bernard, [regarding your column from Monday] please see this link. This is a Democrat who escaped it, by a happenstance sort of way. She held nothing back. It opened my eyes to the same issue. I think your readers would appreciate this. The title of the piece is “After Attending a Trump Rally, I Realized Democrats Are Not Ready For 2020.” — Bill N.

I read the column, Bill, and it backs up the idea that some on the left think that all Trump supporters are hateful, deplorable human beings. Some are. You can’t argue with that — even though the column you linked to is by a Democrat who went to a Trump rally and found lots of really nice people. Most are, I suspect. That said, there are plenty of supposedly intelligent, open-minded progressives who are horrible human beings; who say if “lots” of their fellow Americans die because of the coronavirus, it’s “worth it” if it means getting Trump out of office. What makes them so deplorable is that they see themselves as the good ones, the enlightened ones, the decent ones. Donald Trump has made them crazy.  Trump Derangement Syndrome is real.

I was watching an old interview of Andy Rooney last night where he talked about his time covering the 8th Air Force in WWII. It was a fascinating interview. Did you spend time working with him when you are at 60 Minutes, and if so, what were your thoughts on the work he did when you worked together? — Joe M.

I wasn’t on 60 Minutes — but a lot of people think I was. I did appear on other prime time CBS News magazine programs. I knew Andy. He wrote me a very nice note in 1996 after my op-ed about liberal bias appeared in the Wall Street Journal. But he wasn’t happy when I put the letter in my book Bias. He didn’t want his colleagues to know that he agreed with me. I thought less of him after that.  Andy was a well-known curmudgeon. Let’s just say it was a well-deserved description and leave it at that.

Bernie: In these times of pandemic, things are certainly political but shouldn’t be partisan. To that end, I’m interested to get your objective opinion on how some of our politicians are handling their crisis leadership roles. I give kudos to Trump, Pence, Gov. Cuomo (D-NY), Gov. Newsom (D-CA) and Gov. Abbott (R-TX). Demerits to Mayor De Blasio of NYC, Pelosi and Biden. The latter three are still reading from their “Blame Trump” playbook. — Steve R.

I’m with you, Steve — in times of crisis we can do without partisan politics. I applaud your bi-partisan list who deserve kudos … and I agree with demerits go to more than a few Democrats, especially Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.  As I write this the relief bill includes $25 billion for the Kennedy Center (which President Trump gleefully applauded in his daily TV briefing) and rules regarding airline emission standards. Really!!! And Joe Biden issues cliches about “slush funds” from his house in Delaware.  Let’s see what the voters have to say later this year.

Mr. G, What’s your best case scenario for our country by June 1st? Looking for some logical inspiration. — ScottyG

The honest answer, Scotty, is nobody knows. But I hope and suspect things will be better than they are now. If that’s the case, it’ll give us time to come up with treatments and at some point a vaccine. But statistically speaking, there’s a good chance that the situation will at least appear to be worse before it gets better. Cross your fingers regarding June 1.

[In your Off the Cuff this week], why did you have to inject your prejudice with “…if [Trump] continues to get things wrong and if he continues to mislead the American people…”. It would be more honest if you prefaced with “In my opinion he gets things wrong and misleads the American people”. Distasteful and unnecessary. — David O.

Sorry, David, but it’s not my opinion that the president gets things wrong and misleads the American people … it’s a fact.  And when I state a fact, I’m not injecting prejudice. My job isn’t to cheerlead for this or any other president. If that’s what you want to do, fine with me. My job, as a journalist and commentator, is to analyze the facts and then tell you what I think about them.

Haven’t you noticed that he’ll say something during his daily briefings and then one of the experts goes to the podium and delicately sets the record straight. I’m adding a link to my answer that will take you to a piece by a lifelong Republican … a conservative who served in the last 3 GOP administrations.  He’s no fan of the president but his outlines specific examples how the president gets things wrong and misleads. That’s not his opinion either. They’re facts.

Try not to let your admiration for the president — which you’re certainly entitled to — adversely affect your ability to analyze what’s right there before your eyes on TV almost every day. After you read the article, feel free to let me know what you think of the specific misstatements outlined in the article.  Thanks.

President Trump tweeted this on Wednesday: “The LameStream Media is the dominant force in trying to get me to keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success. The real people want to get back to work ASAP. We will be stronger than ever before!

The media isn’t the dominant force in keeping the country “closed.” It’s the scientific data and top health/medical professionals (including people associated with the Trump administration) that are driving this case. Governors aren’t issuing stay-at-home orders because of the media. How can anyone reject the criticism that Trump isn’t taking this pandemic as seriously as he should when he suggests that the precautions our country is taking are just a political hit-job on him? — Ben G.

I totally agree with you Ben. Donald Trump has adversaries and even enemies in the media. And more than a few journalists don’t want him to be reelected. But the media, as you rightly say, is not the dominant force; reporters aren’t calling the shots. The experts are — or at least should be. Donald Trump suffers from Media Derangement Syndrome. He needs to point out their mistakes and move on. A wartime president doesn’t get into petty fights with journalists.


Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.

Off the Cuff: The Coronavirus Has Quarantined Biden’s Campaign

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has been a different kind of victim of the coronavirus. That’s the topic of my new “Off the Cuff” audio commentary.

You can listen to it by clicking on the play (arrow) button below.


Editor’s Note: If you enjoy these audio commentaries (along with the weekly columns and Q&A sessions), please use the Facebook and Twitter buttons to share this page with your friends and family. Thank you! 

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