On Monday, The Daily Beast published an attack on South Dakota GOP governor Kristi Noem, insinuating that Noem’s policies regarding coronavirus restrictions were connected to the death of her own 98-year-old grandmother, who died November 22 in a nursing home.
The article, titled, “Anti-Mask Guv’s Grandmother Died in Nursing Home Ravaged by COVID,” bore the sub-headline, “And yet Kristi Noem continues to downplay the virus, refuse a mask mandate, and ignore the terrible price her state is paying.” The Daily Beast’s tweet regarding the article looked like this:
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) December 2, 2020
Despite the fact that there was no evidence that Noem’s grandmother, Arlys Arnold, died of the coronavirus, and had even reportedly tested negative for it, the article linked her death to 13 other residents of the nursing home over a two-week period as a means to rip Noem, writing of the “lunacy of Noem’s downplaying of the pandemic”:
The other 12 of the 13 deaths between Nov. 14 and Nov. 28 at the Estelline Nursing Home are described by the administrator, Mike Ward, as “COVID-related.” “All but one,” Ward told The Daily Beast.
But one less is still a dozen COVID deaths in a short period in one small facility. The number makes clear the lunacy of Noem’s downplaying of the pandemic and her continued refusal to impose a statewide mask mandate.
The article then accused Noem of being indifferent to others’ losses but sensitive to her own loss:
Noem remained fixated on livelihoods rather than lives and chose to tweet that day about the importance of supporting small businesses by shopping. None of this is to say that Noem is at all cold-blooded when the lives include one of her own clan.
Noem wrote on Facebook regarding her grandmother:
We lost my grandma today but she is finally where she has wanted to be for quite some time… with Jesus. And grandpa and my dad and Ryan… and so many loved ones… I remember when my dad died, she said to me with tears rolling down her cheeks, “children should never die before their parents”… I had never seen my grandma cry before.
She was the toughest woman I have ever known. She spoke plainly, but full of wisdom. She could outwork any man and did so on a regular basis. She was honest… (we all have funny stories of when she was maybe a little TOO honest). And she left our family a legacy of faith and love for the Lord. We love you grandma. Thank you for the honor of being your granddaughter.
The Daily Beast article continued: “For Noem to have mentioned the dozen other dead would have raised the specter of the virus that killed them even as she was continuing to claim that she had brought it under control by invoking personal responsibility rather than mandating a vital precaution — a face mask — that is as simple and unimposing as wearing a seatbelt.”
Conservatives were revolted by the article. Some examples of the backlash:
Many in the mainstream media hate freedom and those who defend the freedom of their constituents.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 2, 2020
Second sentence of the piece: "The 98-year-old grandmother, Aldys Arnold, is said by Noem’s office to have tested negative for the virus”
This is why people loathe media. https://t.co/a7nChT7UxJ
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) December 2, 2020
And in the first paragraph: "… tested negative for the virus."
The blatant dishonesty of your headline severely undercuts any credibility your criticism might have had. https://t.co/kfzz3CJFL4
— Virginia Kruta (@VAKruta) December 2, 2020
What a disgusting, opportunistic, utterly shameful article by @MichaelDalynyc.@KristiNoem’s grandmother did not die from COVID, stop using deaths to make your political points. https://t.co/F0KzapzSFH
— Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) December 2, 2020
— President-elect Nick Searcy, INT’L FILM & TV STAR (@yesnicksearcy) December 2, 2020
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) December 2, 2020
The dog psychic story had more journalistic integrity than this. https://t.co/k3q9BdgT1K
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) December 2, 2020
COVID has politicized death to such an extent that it's acceptable to attack someone for having their grandmother die.
And Noem's grandmother didn't even have coronavirus. Despicable. https://t.co/DYWfcX7anj
— Anders Hagstrom (@Hagstrom_Anders) December 2, 2020
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