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Ethics
Photo by SonerCdem / iStock

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

The struggle against Covid-19 has often been compared to fighting a war. Much of this rhetoric is bombast, but the similarities between the struggle against the virus and against human enemies are real enough. War reporting and pandemic reporting likewise have much in common because, in both cases, journalists are dealing with and describing matters of life and death. Public interest is fueled by deep fears, often more intense during an epidemic because the whole population is at risk. In a war, aside from military occupation and area bombing, terror is at its height among those closest to the battlefield.

The nature of the dangers stemming from military violence and the outbreak of a deadly disease may appear very different. But looked at from the point of view of a government, they both pose an existential threat because failure in either crisis may provoke some version of regime change. People seldom forgive governments that get them involved in losing wars or that fail to cope adequately with a natural disaster like the coronavirus. The powers-that-be know that they must fight for their political lives, perhaps even their physical existence, claiming any success as their own and doing their best to escape blame for what has gone wrong.

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Attorney General William Barr with President Trump

Photo by The White House

Attorney General William Barr testified to Congress on Tuesday that he does not read Donald Trump's tweets.

But in February, Barr criticized Trump for tweeting about Department of Justice issues, making it clear he does read the tweets.

"I think it's time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases," Barr told ABC News, referring to Trump. Barr also said Trump's tweets "make it impossible for me to do my job."

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