The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, May 25, 2020


If one is allowed to choose only one collective villain in the COVID-19 crisis, it's not the current administration, nor is it state governors (mostly Democrat) who have distinguished themselves with poor decisions driven by fear and CYA as opposed to their claim of "science" and data". You might argue that it's members of the public health establishment (e.g., at the federal level, Anthony Fauci et al) who allowed themselves to believe grossly inaccurate models of viral spread and morbidity and continued to follow "data" that was preliminary and inaccurate. But no, the public health officials had no ill-intent, even though their focus was too narrow and their strategy has proven to be questionable at best. Hindsight indicates that their recommendations did little to actually stop the spread of the virus and even less to build up herd immunity—the only known way to stop the spread lacking a vaccine.

The one collective villain—a charter member of Team Apocalypse—is the main stream media. Driven by a combination of initial hysteria, a business model that accentuates 'if it bleed it leads' and then, recognizing that they had a chance to hurt a president that they hate with a venom that is unprecedented in modern history (mainly because he calls out their duplicity, their dishonesty, and the unprofessional, biased behavior), the main stream media did everything possible to encourage fear, uncertainty and doubt within the broad population—driving 'sheeple' to a level of hysteria that is dangerous to themselves and the country. The media have been shameless in all of this.

Fear is gripping the American public health and media establishments: they are losing control. States are belatedly (and far too tentatively) easing their coronavirus lockdowns, many without having met the absurd CDC benchmarks for doing so. Customers are joyfully returning to previously shuttered restaurants and parks, some even discarding that symbol of subjugation: the outdoor mask.

The mainstream media and health experts are not going down without a fight, however; their newfound power over almost the entirety of human life has been too exhilarating to give up now. Their reaction to the current rebellion provides a glimpse of the strategies that will be deployed during the much-hyped ‘second wave’ of infections this fall in order to shut the economy down again.

The extent of media panic became clear in mid-May. On May 15, CNN checked back in to Georgia, that blackguard state that had started reopening in April without expert pre-clearance, drawing a rebuke even from President Donald Trump. On April 21, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote that Georgia governor Brian Kemp was seeking to ‘turn his state into the place to die.’

Three weeks later, things were not looking good for the proponents of indefinite shutdown. ‘Since reopening late last month,’ CNN glumly reported, ‘Georgia hasn’t seen a spike in coronavirus cases.’ Time to change the standards for success: ‘But there also hasn’t been a significant decrease in new case counts,’ the cable channel added. New case counts had decreased — 6 percent over a week — but the drop just wasn’t ‘significant,’ by CNN’s lights. Moreover, CNN pointed out, that downward trend was ‘unsteadily downward,’ as if any set of data does not have daily fluctuations.
The New York Times, in what has to be an epic case of virtue signaling, decided to list the name of every COVID-19 victim, letting us know that they care while people who have rejected a catastrophist view clearly want more death. Comically, the sixth name on the list was a homicide victim—so much for accuracy.

If there's a way to spin good news about our war against the virus into bad, the main stream media will try to do so. Showing video clips of people celebrating the beginning of summer at beaches across the country, trained media hamsters clutched their pearls, put on their somber faces, and lamented the fact that no one was socially distanced or wearing masks. 

As death counts and hospitalization have dropped precipitously, the trained hamsters now lament an increase in "cases" never bothering to note that many if not a majority of cases are asymptomatic or very mild, and that increased testing will surely uncover more "cases."

Back at the NYT, McDonald reports:
On May 17, the New York Times crushed its competition with the most audacious effort yet to turn good news into bad. ‘NEW CASES IN US SLOW, POSING RISK OF COMPLACENCY,’ read the lead headline in the print edition. Sub headlines further limned the gloomy picture: ‘TRAJECTORY UNCERTAIN,’ ‘Spikes Feared As the Very Steps That Curbed the Virus Are Lifted.’ Do not stop being fearful, in other words. While the virus risk may go down, complacency risk replaces it, leaving us as threatened as before. The only proper posture is to shelter in place permanently.
This blatant attempt to turn good news into bad, to frighten people, and to keep the country closed (with consequent damage to people's health and livelihoods) is despicable.


Heather McDonald provides us with the media playbook for the coming summer months. The hamsters don't realize how predictable and dishonest they are:
Expect the following additional strategies this summer, besides the creative massaging of good tidings into bad:

–Hiding the numbers. We will hear about ‘surges,’ ‘spikes,’ and the ‘ballooning of the case count,’ without learning the numbers behind those spikes. A state will be reported as being in the grip of an exponential outbreak; if that outbreak meant going from five new cases one day to nine new cases three days later, say, those details will be omitted.

–Specious parallelism. This strategy combines ‘hide the numbers’ with the irrelevant ‘as’ construction: President Trump is calling for an end to the lockdowns even as there are ‘worrisome reports of spikes in infections in countries like China, South Korea and Germany,’ the New York Times put it on May 12.

–Coy double negatives and strained constructions. The risk of outdoor transmission is ‘not zero,’ according to a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs quoted by the New York Times on May 16. (To be precise, outdoor infection accounted for 0.01 percent of 7,300 cases in China.) Caseloads are not rising but remain ‘steadily worrisome.’

–Scary new models, revisionist models, and the continuing citation of discredited old models.

–The conflation of new cases with new deaths, and no information about the recovery rate.

–Concealing the locus of mortality. This is the mother of all fear-mongering strategies. Every coronavirus story that does not acknowledge the prevalence of nursing home deaths among coronavirus decedents is a story that deceives the public. It is now impossible to attribute the lack of such information to mere oversight. Preliminary estimates of the share of nursing home deaths in the national count range from 35 percent to over 50 percent.  ... Neil Ferguson, director of the apocalyptic Imperial College model that triggered lockdowns in Great Britain and the US, has conceded that as many as two-thirds of all people who die of coronavirus in 2020 would have died by the end of the year anyway.