Wednesday, August 5, 2020


Chris Wallace is still riding high from his recent interview with the president which even many pro-Trumpers acknowledge was “tough but fair.” But there is one line of questioning where Fox’s famous anchor may have tilted against the president unfairly: the Johns Hopkins University chart he used to portray the United States as doing poorly compared to other countries.

When the president suggested we were doing better than OK, Mr. Wallace shot back: “But, sir, we have the 7th highest mortality rate in the world. Our mortality rate is higher than Brazil, it’s higher than Russia and the European Union has us on a travel ban.”

Mr. Wallace indicated his team had looked into the stats with some care. “We went with numbers from Johns Hopkins University, which charted the mortality rate for 20 countries hit by the virus,” he explained, insisting that the United States ranked 7th better than the United Kingdom but still “worse than Brazil and Russia.”

But Mr. Wallace’s math skewed the results against the United States. The mortality rate in every nation, according to the Johns Hopkins tally this reporter has been using, is a percentage of the total number of confirmed cases of infections. But Johns Hopkins, while it has a 20-nation chart, customarily compares our mortality rate with the mortality rate of 163 nations, not the 20 used by Mr. Wallace.

Mr. Wallace deliberately excluded the data of more than 140 other countries that Johns Hopkins regularly posts to come to his conclusions. Why they were excluded is unclear. But there’s no question that this exclusion provided a far less positive view of this country’s mortality rate.

Using the Johns Hopkins’ formula that includes 163 nations, the mortality rate for the United States stood at 3.7% at the time of the interview. (The 3.7% number is in the 20-nation chart as well.) And guess which country had a higher number? Brazil, with 3.8%, though Mr. Wallace told the president we were “worse than Brazil.” We were also doing better than Finland (4.5%), Denmark (4.6%), Switzerland (5.9%), Sweden (7.3%), Canada (7.9%), Spain (10.9%), the Netherlands (11.8%), France (14.2%), Italy (14.3%) and Belgium (15.4%).

Surely if Mr. Wallace had used the figures quoted above, watchers of Fox News Sunday might have had a far more positive view of the Trump administration. This is no mere quibble, given the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll showing the president’s handling of the pandemic stands at an anemic 38% among voting-age adults, with 60% disapproving. His scary overall job approval rating, tied to the public’s sense of the pandemic’s threat, is virtually the same.

No doubt Mr. Wallace has reasons as to why he didn’t use the rosier figures, even though they were valid on the day the interview was shown. But for those of us who rely on the Johns Hopkins numbers for stories and columns, an explanation from Team Wallace as to why it used the 20-nation chart would be enlightening.

Ex-Veep Joe Biden insists that he, not Donald Trump, knows how to deal with COVID-19. Yet, when it counted, when the president, with public support of his Coronavirus Task Force, banned travel to China, a policy that Dr. Anthony Fauci would say saved tens of thousands of lives and was being embraced by nations around the globe, Mr. Biden famously erupted:

“This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia … to lead the way instead of science.” (But how had the science not prevailed, given that the policy was supported by the distinguished health experts on the CTF, including two liberal favorites, Drs. Deborah Birx and Fauci? And how was it anti-Chinese xenophobia, when Taiwan was banning Mainland Chinese from entering its country a month earlier, with spectacular results in taming COVID-19?)

When MSNBC’s Joy Reid asked Mr. Biden how he would do things differently, the former vice president said he would order American companies to manufacture essential items that we may lack or are in short supply. Mr. Trump, it turns out, had already checked that box. He would also do more testing. But we already do “two to three times more tests per capita than most European and Asian countries,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

We need to appoint a “command officer” to tell us how a vaccine “will be distributed to over 300 million Americans,” Mr. Biden demanded. Karl Rove to the former vice president: “Gen. Gustave F. Perna, head of Army Material Command, was appointed chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed on May 15 to accelerate vaccine production and distribution.” He wants to be president, Mr. Rove jabbed, but all six of the things he recommended are “exactly what this current president is doing.”

Chris Wallace is willing to give the Democrats’ certain nominee a chance to elaborate on his differences with the president. But Mr. Biden has turned the Fox anchor down flat, with Mr. Wallace noting that Donald Trump “took all the questions,” but that Joe Biden hasn’t appeared willing to “face that kind of scrutiny.”

Why do these Never Trump “Republicans,” one wonders, keep pushing this man to lead the nation?

• Allan H. Ryskind, a former editor and owner of Human Events, is the author of “Hollywood Traitors” (Regnery, 2015).

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