The government shutdown of Idaho’s economy led to a lot of frustration amongst citizens.
Over time, people were anxious to get back to work.
Business owners were desperate to earn a living again. In fact, a number of businesses began opening early despite threats from government officials that they may be punished for doing so.
Eventually, some citizens became upset enough at the shutdown that they started holding rallies across the country, including right here in Idaho.
A large protest took place on April 17th at Idaho’s capitol to demand that Governor Little re-open the economy and to support local businesses.
It was estimated that approximately 1,000 people attended the protest.
In their coverage of the protest, the media discussed how attendees were standing close together and not wearing masks.
The Idaho Statesman, Idaho’s largest newspaper, had this to say about the “Open Idaho” protest:
Attendees were “encouraged to follow social distancing procedures,” according to a press release from the Idaho Freedom Foundation, but most didn’t. The crowd gathered closely and engaged with a few counterprotesters; many were not wearing masks, but were carrying guns.
So, the Idaho Statesman made sure to inform their readers that “Open Idaho” protesters were mostly not wearing masks and were in close proximity. They also made it a point to discuss that many were carrying guns which would not be uncommon in Idaho.
They weren’t the only ones to discuss the closeness of the attendees during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Commenters on many of the media’s social media pages were filled with comments calling ‘Open Idaho” protesters “covidiots.” At the time, many on the left side of the political spectrum felt they needed to label anyone protesting the economic shutdown as not caring about the threat of coronavirus. Some of them even wished death and illness upon those attending the protest.
Those attending the protest argued that they care about those who become sick with Coronavirus, but they are also concerned about the rising suicide and abuse rates during the shutdown. They are also concerned with businesses that were losing their livelihood and their ability to feed their families.
Now, in the wake of recent protests over the death of George Floyd, the media and those on the political left don’t seem as concerned with the coronavirus.
Estimates are that approximately 5,000 people attended a recent vigil at the capitol in support of George Floyd.
When the Idaho Statesman covered the protest they didn’t mention the word “Coronavirus” one time in their article. Additionally, they made no mention of people not wearing masks or how close attendees were to each other.
In fact, many of the people at the George Floyd vigil were much closer in proximity than those at the “Open Idaho” protest.
According to Governor Little’s guidelines, Idahoans are still supposed to be social distancing and wearing masks. We are also supposed to be avoiding large public gatherings.
However, it would appear that Idahoans from all political spectrums have found issues they feel passionate enough to protest about despite Gov. Little’s guidelines.
Will the Idaho media continue to treat the protesters for separate causes differently? Will the media push the narrative that one set of protesters is careless for protesting the shutdown of Idaho’s businesses and the other is righteously protesting against police brutality?
Idahoans who are frustrated with the Idaho media coverage of the “Open Idaho” protest want the media to treat them exercising their 1st Amendment rights the same as those who are currently doing it for George Floyd.
Ryan Jenks, one of the speakers at the “Open Idaho” protest told Idaho Dispatch, “Whatever one’s viewpoint on the relative merits of the protests against the stay at home orders versus the protests following George Floyd’s death, COVID-19 does not differentiate between them in any way. Any large gathering poses the same viral hazards regardless of the participants’ race, creed, political affiliation, or any other factor. Local and national media, however, have attempted to create a false dichotomy between the gatherings. When 1300 people gathered at the Capitol to protest Gov. Little’s stay at home order the media deemed the gathering a reckless disregard for public health and safety.”
Jenks continued voicing his frustration by saying, “On the other hand, when several thousand people attended a protest for George Floyd at the same location the media was largely silent regarding those same dangers. This clearly demonstrates that the media is more concerned about pushing its own agenda than it is about reporting facts. There are only two possible conclusions to this double standard, either the virus is a serious concern that the media has chosen to ignore during the current protests, or the media overhyped the level of concern to restrict the rights of the quarantine protesters. Either way, when it comes to the gatherings COVID-19 doesn’t play favorites, but the media does.”
Many Idahoans who supported the “Open Idaho” protest feel the same way that Ryan Jenks does.
Their argument is that if the virus is a concern in large gatherings, then it certainly doesn’t pick and choose which gatherings to target.
Do you think the media has been biased in their coverage of the different protests? Let us know in the comments below.
Tags: George Floyd, Media Bias, Open Idaho, Protest, Rally, Ryan Jenks