A star-studded televised concert featuring music legends and political figures has drawn angry online backlash for raising money for the controversial World Health Organization, amid allegations that the group is beholden to China and badly mishandled the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
The two-hour ‘One World: Together at Home’ event, led by the WHO and non-profit group ‘Global Citizen’ was broadcast across multiple television channels in the U.S. and overseas on Saturday.
The event’s corporate sponsors and other donors have already given $150 million, earmarked for the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, organizers said.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump pulled all U.S. funding for the WHO, accounting for about half of the group’s budget, pending an investigation into the group’s handling of the pandemic, and particularly its relationship with China.
That didn’t stop, and perhaps encouraged, the who’s-who lineup of stars who joined the One World concert, including Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga, who gushed that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom was a ‘superstar.’
Lady Gaga gushed that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom was a ‘superstar’ during the ‘One World:Together at Home’ event, led by the WHO and non-profit group ‘Global Citizen’
First Ladies: Michelle Obama [L] and Laura Bush [R] were just two of the political voices speaking out during the show
Contributions, all filmed in their homes, also came from Elton John, Jennifer Lopez, Stevie Wonder, British soccer star David Beckham, former U.S. first ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush, Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Billie Eilish, Bill Gates and dozens of others.
Trump’s supporters, as well as critics of the WHO from all around the world, immediately lashed out on social media and in reviews on online streaming platforms that carried the concert.
‘Yes, we need useless celebrities preaching to us how this isn’t China’s fault and how we should just all live as one nation,’ one scathing Amazon review of the concert read, adding the crude abbreviation ‘BS.’
‘No thank you this is for the WHO,’ another tweeted. ‘NO THANK YOU.’
‘That one world together at home commie propaganda sponsored by the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] WHO and this global citizen bull c**p is on at least 20 different stations,’ tweeted Charles Langworthy, a Republican running for Congress in Michigan.
‘You can take your commie propaganda and shove it. THIS IS AMERICA! We are not global citizens we are AMERICAN CITIZENS!!’ he added.
The concert broadcast was carried on NBC, ABC, and CBS broadcast affiliates across the country, as well as MSNBC, NBC Sports, and other cable channels.
Taylor Swift joined the star-studded lineup for the benefit to raise $150 million for the WHO
Billie Eilish also lent her talents to the two-hour ‘One World: Together at Home’ event
Lizzo belted out a cover of Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come for the concert
‘If I could give No stars I would,’ one Amazon reviewer wrote. ‘WHO lied! People died!! Let’s not forgot this!!! While we’re home given up our freedom and most of us without jobs these CELEBRITIES ask us to help raise money for the WHO?! Forget it!’
Tedros, a former official in Ethiopia’s Marxist party with a PhD in community health, also delivered a video address during the concert, which drew particular backlash.
‘Disgrace, you have no ground to stand on after this episode. Failed to signal what was coming out of [China] failed to confirm a pandemic until it was too late, you were behind the curve permanently,’ one person tweeted.
Critics of the WHO, including Trump and many Republicans, question why the group waited so long to declare coronavirus a global health emergency, and why it has consistently supported the Chinese Communist Party’s positions on a number of key issues.
Tedros, a former official in Ethiopia’s Marxist party with a PhD in community health, also delivered a video address during the concert, which drew particular backlash
After China on Friday revised its death toll estimate upward, a WHO official praised the move as ‘an attempt to leave no case undocumented.’
Dr Deborah Birx, America’s coronavirus response coordinator, on Saturday said even the revised Chinese numbers lacked credibility.
‘I put China on there so basically you can see how unrealistic this would be,’ she said of a chart that showed China’s official case mortality rate at 0.33 per 100,000, orders of magnitude below every other country.
The WHO has also parroted Beijing’s insistence that the virus crossed to humans at a wild animal ‘wet market’ in Wuhan, in spite of U.S. intelligence that indicates it escaped from a Chinese laboratory during bungled experiments.
Dr Birx was presenting a chart with coronavirus mortality rates by country when Trump interjected, saying ‘does anybody really believe this number?’ The US bar is seen in blue
China’s mortality rate was marked with an asterisk to indicate the unreliability of the data, and even Dr Birx admitted that it lacked all credibility, saying China failed its ‘moral obligation’
The US is investigating whether the virus accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab (above) after receiving credible intelligence
The Wuhan Institute of Virology Lab is China’s only bio-safety level four facility, and was known to be carrying out experiments to identify emerging coronaviruses in bats — not as a bioweapon, but to prove Chinese superiority in isolating potential disease threats.
U.S. diplomatic cables sent just two years ago say that American scientists had strong concerns about the sloppy safety procedures at the lab.
In addition to the performances, Saturday’s televised concert showed social media postings and news clips of doctors and nurses being applauded by communities around the world, deserted world landmarks, families greeting each other through windows, and acts of kindness in support of those who are isolated and frail.
‘I’m so grateful for the healthcare workers, the medical workers, all the grocery store workers and delivery people, the postal workers, all the other nonprofits that are working so hard,’ said Gaga, who helped organize the event.
‘This is really a true love letter to all of you all over the world, and I hope a reminder of the kindness that’s occurring right now,’ she added.
Beyonce put forth a passionate speech about how COVID-19 has ‘severely affected’ African American communities during her stint on the One World: Together at Home concert
Elton John also joined the lineup to raise money for the World Health Organization
Beyonce did not perform but sent a video message in which she noted the disproportionately high death rates from COVID-19 in the black community.
‘This virus is killing black people at an alarming rate in America,’ she said, urging viewers to protect themselves.
Swift, on piano, gave an emotional rendition of her ballad ‘Soon You’ll Get Better,’ which was originally written during her mother’s battle with cancer.
The Rolling Stones, filmed in four separate locations, sang ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want,’ with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards playing acoustic guitars.
The Rolling Stones performed You Can’t Always Get What You Want via a four-way split screen Zoom call
Oprah Winfrey appeared with a message of support during the concert
NBC, ABC and CBS teamed up to broadcast the historic event with late night talk show hosts Jimmy Kimmel [L], Jimmy Fallon [R] and Stephen Colbert coming together to host the show
Matthew McConaughey recorded a message of support from his home in Austin, Texas, where the actor is currently self-isolating
‘We all appreciate the healthcare workers but never like now,’ Winfrey said in a video message. ‘They truly are the best of us… We need to ensure that governments step up now and provide healthcare workers with the equipment and the funds they need.’
Wonder played the late Bill Wither’s classic ‘Lean on Me,’ while McCartney, recalling that his mother was a nurse and midwife, sang ‘Lady Madonna.’
‘You know the coronavirus is trouble when a Beatle gets involved,’ quipped Kimmel.
Celebrities called on people to stay at home, wash their hands regularly, practice social distancing and put pressure on their political leaders to introduce widespread testing for the disease.