“If more Americans died in the last six weeks than the entirety of the Vietnam War, do you deserve to be re-elected?”
—–Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine reporter, at yesterday’s pandemic briefing.
I’m seriously tempted to leave this post with that alone, as a perfect embodiment of the principle of “res ipsa loquitur,” or “the thing speaks for itself.” I’m not sure I care to have someone so dim that that they can’t discern that such a question is moronic, partisan and offensive reading Ethics Alarms. Still, some further comment is appropriate. But please don’t be insulted that I’m discussing the matter at all: I know you can recognize unprofessional journalism when to see it.
- This comparison has turned up in other places; apparently the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media Axis of Unethical Conduct circulated a memo or something to try it out and see just how stupid the American public is. As the song went, “How low can they go?” the question is a non-sequitur that falsely implies that there is any relationship between war casualties (casualties in the Vietnam war could have been ended by Presidential fiat at any time over the course of the conflict) and pandemic deaths, which are outside a President’s control.
- There had been 55,952 reported deaths in the U.S. as of yesterday. Nuzzi might as well have asked,
“If more Americans died in the last six weeks than the number of songs written by Irving Berlin (1500), plus the total number of hits by Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron and Stan Musial, (12,216), added to the number of yards Jim Thorpe rushed in college (3, 616), plus the number of words in the Book of Jeremiah (33,002), added to the cost of two inflatable giant Twister games ($4000), for a grand total of 54, 334, do you deserve to be re-elected?”
That would make just as much sense.
- This was no more nor less than the “blood on his hands” slur. Commented Ann Allthouse on the question,”
“If losses to a sudden contagious disease are the test of whether a candidate deserves our vote, then we’d just be voting based on which person happened actually to be President at the time the disease hit. I suppose many people like to think a different President would have done better. Theoretically, things could have been done better. Our dream President would have done better. But would Joe Biden have done better? Anyone who answers yes is, I suspect, someone who was already going to vote for Biden for some other reason.”
- For some reason, the President answered the question in a straightforward manner. Great. When he should excoriate a reporter, he doesn’t. Treating this unprofessional piece of attack partisanship aimed at the intellectually-challenged vote as a legitimate question gives it credibility it doesn’t warrant and must not have.
What worries me is that Trump may not realize why it’s a bad question.