Things are moving fast right now. Last night, Trump shut down travel from the EU and enacted a number of other measures designed to soften the blow to one’s finances if one were quarantined or one’s business was impacted. These latter measures signal to me that they are laying the groundwork for a broader use of stricter, more intrusive measures, such as involuntary quarantines, or perhaps even mass lock-downs such as what we saw in the whole country of Italy last week.
No one should be surprised by these things. Certainly not, if you have been reading my blog.
Two weeks ago, I asked whether or not our civil liberties can survive the coronavirus. In it, I said (among other great things):
[…] no matter what happens, even if confined to small regions, with just a couple of fatalities, if Trump does not move to enact every conceivable tool at his disposal to curb the spread of the coronavirus, he will be flogged mercilessly by the Media. We’ve already seen Democrat politicians join in this.
But that’s not the worst of it, because Trump has shown that he is willing to stand up to Democrats and the media alike. The inflamed Republican voters will be sympathetic to such things, probably beyond what the facts dictate (just like the panic over the coronavirus is probably inflamed beyond what the facts dictate), and will expect Trump to do what is necessary to curb it. And Trump already has a proven track record of taking such measures (bump stocks, vaping).
Well, I don’t suppose anyone has considered what would REALLY be necessary to curb the flu, let alone the coronavirus. Living within such a society would be living under a tyranny. Trump is primed to do it all: checkpoints, quarantines, compulsory vaccination, etc. As would any Republican president, I believe. As, indeed, pretty much every politician, regardless of political stripe, although the rationales might differ.
Hence, my later post complaining about how ‘people’ are the ones driving this panic, urged on by a media which thrives on crisis, whether real or manufactured. A lot more I’d like to say about all of this, but for this post I’d like to give an example of how the media inflames thing “beyond what the facts dictate.”
Last night, I saw this article in “The Week.” Here is the headline:
Coronavirus is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu, Trump’s task force immunologist says
I heard a similar assertion on the network news, so it ain’t just “The Week.” Why is this an example of ‘fake news’? I mean, after all, it is strictly speaking accurate. Let’s dive in to the text a bit:
At the same time, he did clarify that 10 times figure actually brings the new coronavirus’ fatality rate lower than official estimates, which hover around 3 percent. The flu has a mortality rate of about 0.1 percent, so, when considering the likelihood that there are many asymptomatic or very mild cases that have gone undiagnosed, Fauci places the new coronavirus’ lethality rate at somewhere around 1 percent. While that’s a good deal lower than the current data suggests, it still would lead to significant numbers of fatalities, and makes the flu comparisons seem pretty questionable.
The “flu comparisons” have been flying for some time, but panic-mongers have waved it away with wild flapping of the arms by pointing out that “actually” the fatality rate is 3.4, which would make it 34 times more deadly than the flu. Fauci’s revision more than halves the lethality rate, which, in a sane world, would have represented really good news. Provided the new numbers held up over time, it would ease a great deal of the anxiety that is being peddled… and yes, sadly, in contradiction to the author of the article, would make the comparisons to the flu even more apt than they already are.
The exchange with Fauci could have legitimately been titled:
Trump’s task force immunologist asserts Coronavirus is Two Thirds Less Deadly than Official Estimates
This encouraging news would also have the effect of pitting Fauci against the ones generating the “Official Estimates.” However, you can tell from the outset of the article that the whole point and premise of the article is to pit Fauci against Trump. The second sentence of the article:
President Trump has often compared COVID-19 to the flu, which affects tens of thousands of Americans each year, in an effort to calm people down, but Fauci […]
Now here is the really funny thing: Fauci wasn’t even responding to a question where the context invoked Trump!
Fauci was answering a question by a US Representative named Michael Cloud, with no reference whatsoever to Trump!
So, basically the author of the piece (Tim O’Donnell?) had to go out of his way to bring in Trump. A straight telling of the facts, and the facts alone, would have radically changed the whole effect of the article.
This, my friends, is how Fake News works.