Media uncritically repeats Biden’s remark that GOP governors ‘ban masks in school’

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Several media outlets have repeated a misleading White House argument from Biden that some Republican governors “ban masks” in schools, while they have only banned mask “mandates”.

Some governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida, Doug Ducey of Arizona and Greg Abbott of Texas have signed bans on school districts requiring masks, but students are still free to wear face coverings if they wish.

However, President Joe Biden blurred the lines with his remarks Wednesday on COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

“We have to make sure that children wear masks at school,” he said. “Unfortunately, as we have seen throughout this pandemic, some politicians are trying to turn public safety measures, i.e. children wearing masks in school, into political disputes for their own. political gain Some even try to seize the power of local educators by banning masks in schools. They set a dangerous tone.

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A White House official told Fox News that Biden didn’t speak badly but instead used “shorthand” for governors who had banned mask warrants. But the framing that Republicans outright ban masks has been amplified by many outlets in headlines and tweets.

A New York Times headline on Thursday said: “Biden administration to use federal civil rights office to deter states from banning masks in classrooms.” The text of the story correctly noted, however, the fight was over Republicans preventing “local school districts from requiring masks to protect against the coronavirus.” At one point on Thursday or Friday, the Times changed the headline to: “Biden administration to use federal civil rights office to deter states from banning universal masking in classrooms.”

Other headlines pushing for the misleading framing included Axios (“Biden Orders Department of Education Discourage States From Banning Masks”) and a USA Today op-ed piece (“Mask ban is dangerous – for children, in-person schooling and high-profile politicians “), although both have also noted in their texts that the fight is over mandates.

Left-wing radio host and MSNBC opinion writer Dean Obeidallah accused DeSantis of “HUMAN TRIBUTE” and questioned why he was not “charged with crimes for BANKING masks in schools “.

CNBC presenter Kelly Evans summed up Biden’s speech Thursday night: “President Biden called on Republican governors to ban masks in schools.” A CNN chyron on Anderson Cooper’s prime-time show Thursday repeated without criticism, “Biden: Politicians banning school masks ‘set a dangerous tone’,” and CNN Politics didn’t either no longer corrected his comment in a tweet about his address.

DeSantis’ office hesitated at Biden’s comments.

“This is disinformation. They are lying on purpose to advance their political agenda,” DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw told Fox News. “We have corrected this several times. They are aware that this is a lie.”

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It didn’t stop with the media either. The president of the teachers’ union, Randi Weingarten, also presented the problem as governors “banning masks”.

The language has caught the attention of some journalists and media watchdogs.

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Some school districts have received national attention for defying mask bans in states like Texas and Florida, at the risk of losing state funding.

Biden said on Wednesday he was directing the Education Department to potentially use “legal action, if any, against governors who attempt to block and intimidate school officials and local educators” on mask policies.

Polls show that most parents support the requirement to wear masks in schools for the unvaccinated. Children 13 and older are eligible to receive coronavirus vaccines, which have been shown to be very effective.

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The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention and other public health experts have recommended that the mask be worn universally in schools, but debate still rages on their overall effectiveness, as well as the negative side effects for children and women. potential deterioration of their social development.

This article has been updated to show that The New York Times has changed its original title.


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