Newsnight's Emily Maitlis Praised For Debunking 'Trite' Coronavirus Language

"You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character, whatever the prime minister’s colleagues will tell us," the BBC presenter said.

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Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis has been widely praised after “debunking”. the “trite and misleading” language used to discuss coronavirus.

Government ministers have repeatedly used confrontational language to discuss the effort against coronavirus, with Dominic Raab describing Boris Johnson – currently in intensive care – as a “fighter”.

During Wednesday’s programme, Maitlis described the platitudes as “misleading”, saying that the myth of the virus as a social “leveller” had to be debunked.

She said. “The language around Covid-19 has sometimes felt trite and misleading.

“You do not survive the illness through fortitude and strength of character, whatever the prime minister’s colleagues will tell us and the disease is not a great leveller – the consequences of which everyone, rich or poor, suffers the same.

“This is a myth which needs debunking.”

Coronavirus has exposed the gulf between the lives of those struggling to make ends meet and the wealthy, with everything from job instability to feeding your family viewed through the new lens of how we cope in a crisis.

People on lower incomes are much more likely to be exposed to the virus because of the risk posed both by their jobs and their living situation – something Maitlis also pointed out.

She added: “Those on the front line right now; bus drivers and shelf-stackers, nurses, care home workers, hospital staff and shopkeepers are disproportionately the lower-paid members of our work force.

“They are more likely to catch the disease because they are more exposed.”

With the sun shining, last weekend brought arguments about the use of public space during the coronavirus crisis to the fore, with people divided between the demand to stay home, and the need to get outside for both mental and physical wellbeing.

Huge divides in living arrangements were also brought up, with many pointing out that for those with the luxury of a house and garden would generally have an easier experience of lockdown than those in flats with no outside space.

Maitlis also alluded to this argument, saying: “Those who live in tower blocks and small flats will find the lockdown tougher. Those in manual jobs will be unable to work from home.

“This is a health issue with huge ramifications for social welfare, and it’s a welfare issue with huge ramifications for public health.”

Her frank takedown of the language used to talk about coronavirus has earned her widespread praise online, with a clip of the show shared thousands of times.


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