"They tell us coronavirus is a 'great leveller', it's not".
Journalist and presenter Emily Maitlis has received praise and support online after her address of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Newsnight yesterday.
During the introduction to the BBC current affairs show, Maitlis delivered an opening monologue aiming to debunk myths surrounding COVID-19 that have been generated by the use of language in the media surrounding the virus.
She also significantly addressed comments which have previously branded the disease as a 'great leveller'.
“This is a health issue with huge ramifications for social welfare, and it’s a welfare issue with huge ramifications for public health.”— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) April 9, 2020
ICYMI: #Newsnight reported on #coronavirus and how the pandemic is widening social and economic divisions
WATCH ? https://t.co/8XTlYwTiSk pic.twitter.com/l167CK8JZV
In a 90-second monologue, Maitlis addressed the nation and dismissed suggestions that the worst effects of the pandemic are impacting everyone equally, saying: "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."
"Those helping on the frontline right now, bus drivers, shelf-stackers, nurses, care home workers, hospital staff and shopkeepers, are disproportionately the lower paid members of our workforce."
"They are more likely to catch the disease because they are more exposed. 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."
She continues: "This is a health issue with huge ramifications for social welfare and it's a welfare issue with huge ramifications for public health."
"Tonight as France goes into recession and the World Trade Organisation warns the pandemic could provoke the deepest economic downturn of our lifetimes, we ask what kind of social settlement might need to be put in place to stop the inequality becoming even more stark?"
The opening monologue and the show's discussion of the pandemic has prompted much discussion on social media, both positive and critical, with Emily Maitlis' name currently trending on Twitter in the UK.
Emily Maitlis with powerful words that needed saying tonight. pic.twitter.com/yqNgxlHoJU— Huw (@ed_son) April 8, 2020
This speech is great and everything, and please don’t take this as a criticism of Emily Maitlis, but this ought to be the very basic level we expect from BBC news and politics programming.— ?️? Max ?️? (@SpillerOfTea) April 9, 2020
It only seems remarkable because it’s so painfully fucking rare.pic.twitter.com/jUwoStZk8F
This is great from Emily Maitlis but the enormous praise she’s been getting for it speaks volumes about the moribund state of UK political journalism and how little the UK public expect of it — the mere hint of independent, critical thinking is greeted like a miracle. pic.twitter.com/Uvss5KJ74D— Hicham Yezza (@HichamYezza) April 9, 2020