Ted Koppel returned to ABC News’ Nightline on Tuesday to offer some insight into the dangers of the coronavirus to people with pre-existing medical conditions — as well as a warning about the spread of misinformation on social media.
“It’s time more than ever in this country to come to the realization that what we need more than anything else, is reliable, credible journalists,” Koppel told co-anchor Juju Chang. “The fact that so much information is being conveyed by people who have no background in journalism whatsoever but do have the ability through the internet to communicate absolute nonsense and sometimes damaging nonsense over the internet. This is a time when rather than questioning the credibility of the media, we need to reinforce it.”
The show marked the 40th anniversary of Nightline, which Koppel anchored from the start. The news show grew out of nightly special reports that the network began in 1979, when American hostages were first held captive in Iran. As it did back then, Nightline has in the past couple of weeks been devoted to a single topic — the coronavirus crisis.
Koppel’s wife, Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2001, making her especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. Public health officials say that they risk serious complications from the coronavirus. Playwright Terrence McNally, who died of complications of the coronavirus on Tuesday, had COPD.
“Unfortunately, I think we find that people only begin to take things like this seriously when someone in their circle becomes critically ill, or even worse, tragically dies,” Koppel said.
Koppel said that he and his wife have been practicing social distancing measures for some time.