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TN lawmakers pass resolution saying "the media" sensationalizes COVID-19 coverage

Tennessee lawmakers have passed a resolution saying "the media" has been sensationalizing COVID-19 coverage. (File WTVC photo)
Tennessee lawmakers have passed a resolution saying "the media" has been sensationalizing COVID-19 coverage. (File WTVC photo)
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"Fake News" is now a term used by Tennessee lawmakers after passing a resolution regarding the news media.

Late Thursday night, a majority of the House agreed that the media has been sensationalizing COVID-19 coverage.

COVID-19 is a topic NewsChannel9 continue to dig into as we keep our viewers updated on the numbers coming from the Hamilton County Health Department.

We wanted to know how those tracking the infection rate across the state feel about lawmakers' characterization.

The virus has taken lives of those close to our viewers and postponed events many hold dear.

The Jonesborough sponsor of this House resolution says some of the mainstream media outlets are more interested in entertaining their viewers than presenting them with facts.

"We congratulate the people of Tennessee for clearly seeing that the mainstream media has sensationalized the reporting on COVID-19 in the service of political agendas," said Assistant Chief Clerk Daniel Hicks.

When it comes to COVID-19, the majority of the house agreed that the media shamed businesses that wanted to reopen, but dismissed social distancing standards at mass demonstrations.

"And whereas the dropping of mass shaming reveals a political agenda and double standard on the part of some members of the mainstream media who have been consumed by pandemic reporting almost exclusively for months," said Hicks.

NewsChannel 9 spoke with local representative Yusuf Hakeem - the only member of our local delegation who voted against this resolution.

He says he believes the media is being meticulous while reporting the facts.

"Quite frankly, the media has utilized peoples' own words, reporting what the scientists have said, educating the public on best practices," said Hakeem.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke had some strong words about the resolution.

"It is ridiculous to make any of what’s going on with COVID about the media and not about the public health pandemic that it is. That's ridiculous," said Berke.

So is the “message” worse than what doctors are actually seeing in hospitals across the state? NewsChannel 9 posed that question to the Dr. David Aronoff, Director of Vanderbilt's Division of Infectious Diseases.

"What I can say for sure is that the pandemic is really very active right now. The pandemic of COVID-19 is very active in the state of Tennessee," said Dr. David Aronoff.

Dr. Aronoff says he understands folks are frustrated with guidelines and living a new normal.

"But I think it's important for the general public to know that there are experts and news outlets that are really trying to convey factual information about this pandemic at a time where public health is at risk," said Aronoff.
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Originally, the resolution specifically mentioned CNN and the Washington Post as sensationalizing, but specific outlets were removed from a different version before it passed.

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