Accurate criticism is invaluable when we want to correct our mistakes. In contrast, unwarranted criticism propels us to do something foolish. You’ve felt that truth in your personal life. Now we are seeing that same dynamic played out on the national stage as the media criticises the Trump administration’s handling of the Wuhan virus. This is what I saw during the reporting on the Wuhan virus;
We want the news media to give us us useful distinctions and insights into world events. Disproportionate complaint is not a substitute for good reporting.
- President Trump was criticized as xenophobic and reactionary when he stopped visitors from China entering the US due to the Wuhan virus.
- President Trump was criticized when he asked us to quarantine at home.
- President Trump was criticized when he pointed out that New York state had many ventilators in storage they were not using.
I’m noticing a pattern. I predict that if the epidemic died out tomorrow, then President Trump would be blamed for every person who dies with the Wuhan virus, even if they didn’t die from the Wuhan virus. In contrast, if the president kept the quarantine in place for six months, he would be blamed for destroying the economy and locking people out of work.
The president will be blamed for doing too little, doing too much, acting too early, and acting too late.
That isn’t helpful.
Those complaints on the news might sell car insurance, but they aren’t helpful when we try to figure out the right thing to do. We’ve seen some socialists governments ignore the virus until many people were infected at once. That means we can do too little and do it too late. We know that unemployment leads to addiction and suicide. We already have states where the number of suicide deaths exceeds the number of deaths from the Wuhan virus. That means we don’t want to do too much for too long.
We don’t want to make the cure worse than the disease, and that takes good judgement.
I’ve spoken to doctors I respect. They suggested we quarantine people whose health is at risk if they caught the virus so they don’t all get the virus at once. I’ve also read a limited number of reports that quarantine of assisted living institutions was ineffective in stopping this virus. That contradiction means we have more to learn about good public health practice.
These doctors also said, “Wash your hands.” Unless you have an obsessive-compulsive disorder, I know that is good advice.
There is plenty of criticism to go around. The media ignored the fact that New York State hid ventilators they had in storage while Governor Cuomo complained on the news that people were dying due to lack of ventilators. The media ignored that California’s Democrat governors sold their state’s mobile emergency hospitals, ventilators, and hospital supplies. The media ignored that the Obama-Biden administration disregarded three government reports that highlighted the lack of ventilators in hospitals. The media ignored the news when Canada and Mexico shut their borders with the US. The media’s selective outrage offends me and causes me not to trust the news media.
Politicians often make bad decisions for the wrong reasons. The public pays the price. I’m afraid we’re also taking bad advice from the news media when it comes to public policy. Their mis-reporting of the facts distorts our view of the world and, in turn, lets our politicians hide from the truth.
Turning the Wuhan virus outbreak into a media sensation
will cost us billions of dollars in bad public health policies,
and may cost us lives of those unemployed.
I understand the plight of the news media. Today, the legacy media is desperate for viewers because the web has taking their advertising dollars. The media is selling shock-and-outrage in order to hang onto the few viewers it has left. That is a bad prescription to cure a business problem.. and it’s also making us sick.