Now, let's consider Australia: By common agreement, New Zealand has done an excellent job handling Covid-19.
What explains New Zealand's success? Only in the New York Times would you read something as silly as this:
TAUB (5/16/20): After New Zealand began its lockdown on March 25, [Prime Minister Jacinda] Ardern addressed the nation via a casual Facebook Live session she conducted on her phone after putting her toddler to bed. Dressed in a cozy-looking sweatshirt, she empathized with citizens’ anxieties and offered apologies to anyone who was startled or alarmed by the emergency alert that announced the lockdown order.What explains New Zealand's relative success? (For data, see below.)
By contrast, Mr. Trump has tried to anthropomorphize the virus into a foe he can rail against, calling it a “brilliant enemy.” But while that may have encouraged his base, it has not aided American efforts to contain the pandemic. The United States now has the highest coronavirus death toll in the world.
We can't necessarily answer that question. But we're fairly sure that the nation's success hasn't been caused by the fact that Prime Minister Ardern wore "a cozy-looking sweatshirt" when she addressed the nation. Nor would we link it to the claim that she had just put her toddler to bed.
Meanwhile, note the almost fanatical innumeracy which seems to be gripping the Times. In this high-profile piece from Saturday's paper, Amanada Taub included the grossly misleading fact that the United States "has the highest coronavirus death toll in the world."
That's true, of course, but it isn't relevant to Taub's insinuation. Among major nations, the U.S. currently ranks ninth in deaths per million population, and we're nowhere close to first.
We only have "the highest death toll" because we're the world's third-largest nation by population, behind only China and India. When it comes to this simple point, the New York Times is almost as innumerate as President Trump himself.
Trump constantly ignores population size when he triumphantly declares that we lead the world in tests. The Times keeps countering with the innumerate clam that we lead the world in deaths. As we noted on Friday, the same misleading claim had appeared in Mara Gay's otherwise excellent editorial essay in that day's editions.
In that sense, the New York Times—its reporters and its editors both—are almost as dumb as Trump is. That said, let's return to Prime Minister Ardern's cozy attire, along with her slumbering toddler.
That ridiculous passage about the sweatshirt was part of Taub's attempt to claim that female heads of state have been doing a better job confronting the coronavirus than their male counterparts.
That may or may not be true. Let's consider New Zealand.
Taub started her report with praise for Prime Minister Ardern. This is the way it went:
TAUB: Monday was a day of triumph for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Thanks to the efforts of the entire nation, she said, New Zealand had been largely successful in meeting its ambitious goal of eradicating, rather than just controlling, outbreaks of Covid-19. The lockdown she had put in place on March 25 could now end.Have countries led by women been particularly successful? As you'll see, we aren't hugely sure.
Ms. Ardern’s success is the latest data point in a widely noticed trend: Countries led by women seem to be particularly successful in fighting the coronavirus.
But that was the premise which led to the claim about the cozy-looking sweatshirt. Under present arrangements, anything which fits some prevailing narrative is fit for the New York Times.
In fairness, New Zealand does have a good track record. Below, you see its current standing, as compared to a neighboring country ruled by one of those men:
Deaths from Covid-19 per million population, as of May 18:Oops! Taub failed to mention the fact that Australia, ruled by a man, has the same low death rate that New Zealand does!
New Zealand: 4
Taub cited three other female heads of state—those in Germany, Finland and Taiwan. She didn't mention Belgium—which, despite its female head of state, has the highest death rate in the world:
Deaths from Covid-19 per million population, as of May 18:Does the United States have "the highest coronavirus death toll in the world?" Once you adjust for population, it isn't even close!
United States: 276
For various reasons, assessing these matters isn't enormously easy at the present time. For a Washington Post report concerning Belgium's high death rate, you can just click here.
Concerning the general question, you can consider Taub's report for yourself. But the "N" in question is very low, while the "narrative quotient" is high.
New Zealand has a low death rate—but so, alas, does Australia! This is part of the way cogitation works in this, the age of the tribe.