The Media's COVID Failures
Contradictory reporting has left Americans distrusting media, government, and each other.
The COVID response is now in its new and improved iteration post-President Donald Trump. Americans have proven resilient but have grown tired of the flips and flops of the information packaged with purpose by the national media to fuel the 24-hour news cycle. Seeing articles and their reversals and hearing experts contradict themselves is understandably confusing and leaves the public completely without trust in critical information, all while businesses remain shuttered or restricted and livelihoods hampered or destroyed. To say that’s a problem is an understatement.
In the early days of the pandemic, Market Watch gave three reasons not to wear face coverings, citing “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. surgeon general.” Specifically, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a January 30 briefing, “We don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness.” The all-knowing Dr. Anthony Fauci likewise downplayed the use of masks. Now, of course, all we’re hearing is a loud and clear, “Wear the mask!”
In the summer when thousands of protesters and rioters took to the streets, medical professionals who had issued caution and concern about much smaller organized gatherings pivoted 180 degrees. Protests (and, implicitly, riots) were supported by some healthcare partisans as “vital to the national public health” because “social justice” trumped social distancing.
One of the most serious of the selective narratives broadcast was to “flatten the curve.” For a window of 30-45 days, many Americans were willing to shelter in place at home to do their part to contain this novel virus and give health professionals time to learn how to mitigate the spread and treat patients. Yet the call to flatten the curve ultimately turned into “wait on a vaccine” or “wait for a cure and no increase in cases.” For those unwilling to accept the moving goal posts, silence on social media platforms and canceling in the court of public opinion were the punishments.
Worse, Americans have seen their small businesses devastated by local government mandates even as aggressive modifications to dining areas, workspaces, and workflows have been applied. As we warned at the very beginning of the lockdowns, the cure has become as harmful as the virus.
There’s also the “follow the science” admonition. When selective application of standards are applied to those who riot versus those who peacefully gather, it is not science. When the certainties of lockdowns, masks, and social distancing are declared, yet those areas with the strictest measures are still dealing with viral spread, Americans rightfully scratch their heads in confusion.
Some public schools have been closed for almost one full year, forcing teachers to deal with a virtual construct that leaves many students behind. But what does the science say about COVID and children? Whether it’s the CDC or Forbes, replicable data demonstrates the highest death rate for COVID is among older men. A nonpartisan think tank, the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, published “Estimating the Risk of Death from COVID-19 vs Influenza or Pneumonia by Age.” The detailed research stated, “School-aged children between 5 and 14 have a 1 in 200,000 chance of dying of influenza, but a 1 in 1.1 million chance of dying of COVID-19.” Toddlers aged 12 months to four years are six times more likely to die of influenza than the novel coronavirus.
Moreover, a McKinsey and Company study projected students will lose an overall average of 10 months of instructional learning, with minority students suffering the greatest loss. Homicide, childhood cancer, heart disease, and congenital anomalies far outpace COVID deaths, yet the science has kept America’s school children in a state of confusion and ever-changing instructional environments.
Americans need information that’s factual and not sensationalized. In 2020, the public has struggled to balance the pandemic and the infodemic — fighting a virus as well as a contagion of slanted messaging that has served to divide Americans like never before.