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Catching up with Margaret Sullivan

Photo courtesy of Margaret Sullivan


What has most surprised you most about the handling of the pandemic in the US and the coverage of it?

I’ve been bothered by the amount of misinformation that has circulated. I can’t say that it’s really shocking but it’s still pretty awful to see conspiracy theories, false information about supposed cures, and the failure to heed the experts. Given that we’re dealing with life or death situations every day, solid information couldn’t be more crucial. 


Is the media getting it right (as far as that is possible)?

The full spectrum of awful to very good is represented. One of the very disturbing aspects was the way many Fox News personalities (with the notable exception of Tucker Carlson) were in denial mode for such a long time. The coverage in traditional broadcast outlets and the big newspapers, including my employer, the Washington Post, has been generally accurate and sometimes extremely good.


How are you personally doing?

I’m based in New York City, so I’ve experienced life in the epicenter. There were several weeks when it was very scary to be here. You wondered, of course, whether it was inevitable that we’d all get sick. The worst hasn’t come to pass, so, at the moment, I’m striving for equilibrium and a measure of optimism. It’s been terribly sad to see the devastating toll on the city and especially on its poorest, most vulnerable people. Looking on the bright side personally, I’ll probably spend some of the summer at our family cottage in Angola, so I look forward to that. 

— Interview by Elizabeth Licata


Margaret Sullivan is media columnist at the Washington Post and former editor at the Buffalo News. Look for news about her upcoming book in a future issue.


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