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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany briefs the media Thursday. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

It's easy to dog the media. But stop for a second and reflect on everything we know thanks to the media — and often the media alone.

Driving the news: It was the media that gave light to the negligence of White House officials in containing the coronavirus. It was Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs who revealed Hope Hicks' positive test, with President Trump disclosing five hours later that he and the first lady had COVID.

It was the media that exposed that the president and top White House officials knowingly downplayed the danger of COVID.

  • It was Bob Woodward's recordings for "Rage" that capture Trump admitting he knew the coronavirus was deadlier than he publicly portrayed.

It was the media that exposed the president's fundamental misunderstanding of the facts around the coronavirus.

  • It was Jonathan Swan's "Axios on HBO" interview in which Trump said about the loss of American lives: "It is what it is."

It was the media that exposed the murkiness surrounding the president's finances and private business dealings. 

  • It was the N.Y. Times' Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire who exposed Trump’s tax data, showing he only paid $750 in federal income tax the year he entered the White House.

It was the media that amplified the warning of scientists and medical professionals to wear masks, wash hands and social distance, leading to widespread adoption of all three. 

  • The Houston Chronicle has for months been investigating the true numbers of coronavirus cases and warning signs, while local governments kept numbers and details about the virus obscure.

It was often the media that spotted misinformation on social platforms and forced quick corrections. 

  • It was NBC's Ben Collins who led investigations into the woeful failure of tech platforms to police misinformation that fueled the rise of QAnon.

It was the media that uncovered dozens of examples of gross abuses of power by leaders in business and government all year. 

  • It was ProPublica that investigated how New York City’s emergency ventilator stockpile ended up being auctioned off.

The bottom line: All of this came amid economic strife for the industry.

  • In the first six months of 2020, more than 11,000 newsroom jobs were lost.

Go deeper

America's Chinese communities struggle with online disinformation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Disinformation has proliferated on Chinese-language websites and platforms like WeChat that are popular with Chinese speakers in the U.S., just as it has on English-language websites.

Why it matters: There are fewer fact-checking sites and other sources of reliable information in Chinese, making it even harder to push back against disinformation.

Nov 24, 2020 - Economy & Business

The media's reckoning over Hispanic representation

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Monday met with The New York Times to discuss the lack of Latino representation at the paper.

The big picture: Leaders in the Hispanic community have for years been putting pressure on U.S. media companies to include more Hispanic representation in their coverage. The election has served as a wake-up call for many news outlets to take those calls seriously.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes on the Senate runoffs

The future of U.S. politics, and all that flows from it, is in the hands of Georgia voters when they vote in two Senate runoffs on January 5.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the election dynamics with former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat who served between 1999 and 2003.