It’s not often that I post a comment that is mostly links and quotes as a Comment of the Day, but Dr. Emilio Lizardo (That’s his real name, by the way..KIDDING!) performed a real service by gathering this information in one place as a follow-up to the “Unethical Headline” post of last night.
II fear I buried the lede in that one, so some more follow-up is coming. Just two points, and I’ll turn it over to the doctor. Comparing the Wuhan virus outbreak deaths to greater numbers involving routine, yearly, largely unavoidable deaths in the US is a dishonest way to minimize the significance of the current threat. This device is used by the “save the economy, let ’em die” advocates, who are multiplying among conservative commentators. It was also the despicable strategy used by apologists for the terrorists after 9-11, like Michael Moore, though comparing the number of weekly auto fatalities with bomb attacks that murder 3,000 Americans is self-evidently moronic.
On the other side, comparing the current epidemic deaths to wars is an equally dishonest strategy of those trying to make the current situation as terrifying as possible to promote fear and facilitate political gain.
These are two sides of the same unethical coin. (And now you know what the graphic above means)
Now here’s Dr. Lizardo’s Comment of the Day—his first, I think– on the post, “Unethical Headline Of The Week, ‘Nah, The News Media Isn’t Promoting Fear And Panic” Division’.”
I’ll be back for one comment at the end.
Unethical? Nah! And, of course, it’s not personal; it’s business. Not.
And this narrative has been taking place for a week or so:
NYT “News Analysis” – 1 April
“Under the best-case scenario presented on Tuesday, Mr. Trump will see more Americans die from the coronavirus in the weeks and months to come than Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon saw die in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.
The lowest estimate would claim nearly as many Americans as World War I under President Woodrow Wilson and 14 times as many Americans as Iraq and Afghanistan together under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.”
MSNBC – 1 April
“On the low end of the projection, with 100,000 deaths, the toll would exceed the more than 90,000 total American service battle deaths and nontheater deaths experienced in the Vietnam conflict, and be around double the same type of U.S. deaths in the Korean War. And it could match the 116,516 American deaths in World War I.”
Vox – 1 April
” It’s more than American casualties during the entire Vietnam War.”
Foreign Policy – 1 April
“The coronavirus death toll in the United States—now over 4,000—has eclipsed the number killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. According to projections shared during a White House briefing on Tuesday evening, the eventual death toll could equal the number of Americans killed in the Korean War and Vietnam War combined—if it is on the most optimistic end of the current estimates.”
International Business Times – 6 April
“The U.S. never lost 1,000 men dead in a single day in the Vietnam War. New statistical models now predict more than 2,000 deaths per day from COVID-19 starting next week. The 10,792 deaths from COVID-19 as of Monday exceed the number of battle deaths from six U.S. wars combined, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA data reveals a total of 9,961 soldiers died during The American Revolution, the War of 1812 against the British, Mexican War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War and Desert Shield/Desert Storm.”
Time – 6 April
“Soon after the White House announced its projection, observers were quick to make the comparison to the Vietnam War, during which about 60,000 were killed on the battlefield.”
WaPo (Dana Milbank) – 7 April
Headline: “This pandemic is Trump’s Vietnam. He has earned his bone spurs.”
“Some call the pandemic Trump’s Katrina or Trump’s Iraq War. But in terms of American lives that will be lost, this is far greater than both. This may be the most consequential failure of government since Vietnam, in which 58,000 Americans and countless Vietnamese died.
During the Vietnam War, as the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser pointed out, the U.S. military’s daily briefings from Saigon, full of false claims about progress, were dubbed the Five O’Clock Follies. Trump seems unaware of this ignominy when he holds daily briefings full of false claims and dubious medical advice — typically scheduled for 5 p.m.”
Were I a conspiracy theorist, I’d say that it looks like members of the press collaborated to develop this narrative. While some might argue that “assholes” is a perfectly appropriate term to describe those who willingly participate in such orgies of partisan sophistry, I would argue that “presstitutes” would be much more accurate.
It’s also interesting to note that none of these “defenders of democracy” have included the Obama/Clinton Benghazi debacle among their examples.
I’m back. The lede I buried in the post was that in the midst of the deceitful framing the Comment of the Day describes, , in the midst of this transparent left-leaning media propaganda campaign, Columbia School of Journalism professors and other journalism signed and circulated an open letter to the owners of Fox News condemning it for “misinformation” and “false statements” regarding pandemic, arguing, as one signatory put it, that Fox “always played a sort of game of purveying information that is partisan, that is political, that is intended to shape the partisan debate but calling it truthful, and in this case it is just too deadly to let that pass.”
The distortions above, however, are just good, objective, hard-hitting journalism.