The great hypocrisy

Once one of the greatest journalistic blunders/Wikimedia Commons

There is today one simple action journalists could pursue to improve their credibility, one very simple act.


Just stop it.

No matter how much you believe it, stop it. It doesn’t play well.

Stop the incessant “fact checking.” Stifle the urge to label yourself superior to all those dumbasses on social media. And just do your damn job; report the facts as best you can identify them.

The hypocrisy of today’s journalistic know-it-allism is doing more damage to journalism than all the mistakes caused by stupidity, bias and agendas.

This problem was well-illustrated by a recent Associated Press decision to launch into a diatribe headlined “‘Died suddenly’ posts twist tragedies to push vaccine lies.”

The first sentence in the story said “results from 6-year-old Anastasia Weaver’s autopsy may take weeks. But online anti-vaccine activists needed only hours after her funeral this week to baselessly blame the COVID-19 vaccine.”

OK, to start with, the autopsy isn’t due for weeks. What, if pray God, it shows the anti-vaxxers were right and the vaccine did have something to do with Anastasia’s death? Will the AP then apologize?

Look, there is a very real and valid story here if what is reported in the second paragraph of this AP story is accurate.

“A prolific Twitter account posted Anastasia’s name and smiling dance portrait in a tweet with a syringe emoji,” it says. “A Facebook user messaged her mother, Jessica Day-Weaver, to call her a ‘murderer’ for having her child vaccinated.”

Anatasia’s story could and should have been focused on the sad fact of a mother being unfairly accused of “murdering” one of her children, something of which no mother should be accused after making a decision on the advice of doctors no matter how much anyone might disagree with that advice.

Especially in a case where, again if the AP reporting is accurate, Anastasia “experienced lifelong health problems since her premature birth, including epilepsy, asthma and frequent hospitalizations with respiratory viruses.”

Even Sweden, which originally recommended against vaccination for those under the age of 12 and in late 2022 boosted that to age 18, believes children with pre-existing health conditions are unique and recommends vaccination for these “special groups of children.”

The situation is much the same in the United Kingdom where Covid-19 vaccines are generally limited to those over the age of 5, but available to  younger children suffering from what were once called chronic diseases but are now more often called “comorbidities.”

Anatasia’s story should be about a country that has become so divided and so messed up that a mother who gets her already sick child vaccinated against a virus that preys on the physically vulnerable is accused of being a murderer.

Without throwing a single stone, but by simply stating the facts, that story becomes an indictment of the worst people in the anti-vax crowd without smearing all anti-vaxxers, some of whom oppose the idea based on valid personal beliefs.

And people are entitled to those beliefs.

This is a free country or close to it (although some in the media and some of the lords of social media seem to forget this) where people are free to believe what they want to believe even if they are wrong (another thing some in the media also now object to as well because they’re smarter than all the rest of us).

Personal decisions

Suffice it to say, that for the parent of a child with pre-existing health problems, the decision on whether to vaccinate or not is a particularly tough one. And it is unconscionable any parent should be labeled a “murderer” for making that decision one way or the other because there is no perfectly right answer.

All available evidence indicates that getting vaccinated greatly increases your chances of surviving Covid-19, but there are still plenty of vaccinated people dying from the disease every day. Not to mention that the risk ratios shift dramatically with age, and once you get down into the younger ages the choice becomes very, very murky.

For younger Americans of the opinion that they shouldn’t be shooting drugs of any kind into their bodies unless there are very, very good reasons, there’s nothing illogical about deciding against vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The number of young, fit and healthy people killed by SARS-CoV-2-caused Covid-19 is tiny.

But somehow the AP in its desire to pigeonhole all those opposed to vax as evil liars missed these nuances, which wouldn’t be quite so bad if the AP hadn’t, by its own definition,  been in the business of pedaling baseless claims earlier in the pandemic.

“Virus claims more young victims as deaths climb yet again,” it headlined in August of 2021, above a story that reported “a young mother had just celebrated her first wedding anniversary and was one of six members of a Jacksonville church to die over a 10-day span.

“Another Florida woman had just given birth to her first child, but was only able to hold the newborn girl for a few moments before dying.”

The story claimed virus deaths were shifting to younger people but,  as with the anti-vaxxers posting about Anastasia’s story, the AP lacked any data to back up that claim.

“Data on the age and demographics of victims during the delta surge is still limited,” the story admitted, “but hospitals in virus hotspots say they are clearly seeing more admissions and deaths among people under the age of 65.”

This is what is called “anecdotal information,” and it is the same kind of information anti-vaxxer have used to support claims against vaccination by linking unexpected deaths and unexplained excess deaths to vaccinations while ignoring the fact that unexpected deaths happen every day all around the world.

The AP, unfortunately, has also struggled with the idea that valid conclusions require real evidence.

“…Anastasia was swiftly added to a growing list of hundreds of children, teens, athletes and celebrities whose unexpected deaths and injuries have been incorrectly blamed on Covid-19 shots,” it reported. “Using the hashtag #diedsuddenly, online conspiracy theorists have flooded social media with news reports, obituaries and GoFundMe pages in recent months, leaving grieving families to wrestle with the lies.”

The AP has no more way of knowing what role the Covid-19 vaccines played in those deaths than hashtag #diedsuddenly does. It is fair to say that it is highly unlikely that vaccines were implicated in all of or most of those deaths, but vaccines could well be implicated in some of them.

Who knows how many? Most were never investigated.

Researchers who did track more than 2 million people who received almost 7 million doses of vaccine in the first half of last year in Qatar, reported in Nature Communications in January, that “deaths attributable to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination are extremely rare,” but they did find “eight (people) had a high probability, (and) 15 had intermediate probability” of having been killed by the vaccine. 

So your odds of dying from the vaccine appear about equal to your odds of getting killed by a bolt of lightning or attacked by a grizzly bear. Those are very good odds. Better odds than you’ll get for avoiding vaccination.

But the idea the injections are absolutely, totally safe are bull because few things in life are absolutely, totally safe.

The vaccines are like all those drugs now advertised on TV that can help solve your affliction of the moment but…. Well, you know the ads. The ones followed by a long, quickly voiced list of things that could go wrong like maybe your liver exploding or your ears falling off.

Media conspiracy

But back to the AP and that 2021 claim as to young deaths increasing. The mainstream media conspiracy to flood the “news” with the idea that  Covid-19 was an equal-opportunity killer was the biggest lie of the whole pandemic.

Covid-19 isn’t an equal-opportunity killed. And it hasn’t been from the beginning as epidemiologist Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, has nicely outlined in a new book aptly named “The Year the World Went Mad: A Scientific Memoir.” It is worth a read for anyone truly interested in a history of what we all went through after the virus emerged out of China in early 2002.

For those who want a shorter version of the story, there is a good interview with Woolhouse at “Lean Out with Tara Henley,” a Canadian writer and broadcaster who has in the past reported for The Guardian, The Los Angles Times and other left-leaning publications just to put to rest any of the righty-lefty arguments that seem enter any discussion of journalism these days.

It is hard to have any serious discussion about anything with all that crap in the way, and journalists probably more than all other Americans need to start having some honest discussions. The great unwashed masses out there didn’t miss the AP and other mainstreamers fronting the  “Covid kills everyone” conspiracy theory.

When the AP wrote about it, it couldn’t even bring itself to use the most important new word to go mainstream during the pandemic: “comorbidities.” That word was needed in the story because a lot of the few young people who died of Covid-19 had a comorbidity, although even with that not all that many young people died, thankfully.

As of this moment, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports fewer than 22,000 deaths – or less than 2 percent of the country’s Covid-19 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic – have come among people under the age of 40, and a goodly percentage of those people were sadly at risk because they had comorbidities. 

By means of comparison, drug overdose deaths in 2020 alone killed more people – more than 24,000 – who were under age 35, and those drug overdose deaths increased by 15 percent in 2021, according to the CDC. 

That would put drug overdose deaths among the under-40s two to three times higher than Covid-19 deaths among the same group since the start of the pandemic. The AP was clearly trying to terrify younger Americans about a relatively minor threat rather than a much more serious one.

Or maybe this should extend to much more serious threats, plural, that the mainstream chose to ignore? It has done a lousy job of fear-mongering the biggest danger most American now face, the one that comes from people spending too much time sitting on their oversize bottoms.

This is the biggest health threat facing the nation, but it is a hard one to make people fear because it is easy to sit and sitting seems harmless.

Still, a large, international study of the costs of sitting published last year reached what Science Alerts described as the “astonishing” conclusion that sitting for eight hours per day increased the risk of early death by 20 percent.

Put another way, if you want to sit around eight hours per day, there’s a one-in-five chance your neighbor who goes out for an evening walk almost every day will be attending your funeral.

As for those who’d spent decades sitting in the year prior to Covid-19, well, that behavior caught up with a lot of them. Covid-19 was largely the killer of the old and the unfit – not everyone.

Ten-thousand times

As Woolhouse told Henley, the medical community knew almost from the beginning who was dying; “it wasn’t everybody. It wasn’t that this virus was equally dangerous to every member of society. It absolutely wasn’t. We knew from very early on that elderly people – so, a 75-year-old or older was 10,000 times more likely to die from an infection with this virus as a school-aged child. Ten thousand times. I mean, that’s an absolutely extraordinary difference. ”

And yet whole countries, including the U.S., responded to this health threat as if it applied equally to all, and the mainstream media went along without questioning any of it. A lot of craziness followed this parade of senseless panic, including the closing of schools and the masking of children from which the consequences are still evolving.

All of this despite barely a hint of evidence that children were threatened by the virus or all that involved in spreading it because, well, for one thing, children don’t hang out in bars and restaurants which the CDC pretty early on fingered as hotspots for the spread of the disease.

“There was never any evidence (children) were (spreaders),” Woolhouse told Henley, “because they weren’t. There was never any evidence that they were a particular danger from this virus, because they weren’t. Healthy children are in almost no danger from this virus. There have been some very ill, and indeed fatally-infected children, but they’ve always been, to the best of my knowledge, children that were already very, very (sick). Which is obviously extremely sad.”

This is not some quack making these observations. Woolhouse is a highly respected epidemiologist talking about scientific realities.

“…The epidemiology remains true that it’s not really a virus that’s spread among children, or is a threat to healthy children,” he said. “And yet we closed schools. The irony is back in the swine flu pandemic in 2009-2010, which was a threat to children and killed many more than Covid-19 did, we did keep schools open. It doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t make sense.”

Imagine posting on social media back in 2020 or 2021 a statement saying that “healthy children are in almost no danger from Covid-19.” That kind of statement would likely have resulted in a Twitter ban or a temporary Facebook shut down.

On the few occasions something close to this did happen, the “fact checkers” had a field day with it., for its part, dismissed statements almost identical to Woolhouse’s in the summer of 2020:

“In promoting the reopening of schools this fall, Trump administration officials have, at times, inaccurately described the evidence on how COVID-19 affects children:

  • “Adm. Brett Giroir, the coronavirus task force lead on testing, said on July 12 that studies in other countries show ‘young children do not seem to spread the virus’ and ‘don’t get sick.’ Children are very rarely seriously ill, but they do get sick. And while some studies indicate young children may not transmit the virus as readily as adults, it remains an unsettled issue.
  • “Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos the same day said, ‘ there’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school is in any way dangerous.’ That’s an exaggeration. Much of the evidence suggests schools can be reopened relatively safely, but there have been outbreaks linked to schools.”

Giroir and DeVos were, of course, Trump appointees, and the Trump Derangement Syndrome that took over the media is now well documented.

DeVos could, however, be fairly accused of making a less-than-exact statement. After noting the exaggeration, she should have said “there’s nothing in the data that suggests that kids being in school are in any more danger from the virus than they are from being in or traveling to school.”

What kills kids?

See Woolhouse’s above reference to the swine flu, which could be spread in schools and killed too many kids, and then note that the CDC lists the leading-causing of death for school-age children as unintentional injuries, a significant number of which happen in school or on the way to or from school. 

Overall, the National Safety Council reports 3,121 children under the age of 14 died of unintentional injuries in 2020. This compares to the 1,471 deaths – less than half as many – under age 17 that the CDC reports dying in the three years since the pandemic began. The Covid deaths for those under 17 average out to about 490 per year, about a sixth the number of children under age 14 dying of unintended injuries every year.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have likely been more children run down and killed by motor vehicles because drivers weren’t paying full attention to the road than have died in the pandemic, given that the Children Safety Network reports about 600 people under the age of 19 die in such collisions every year.

Think of the lives that could be saved with a motor vehicle “lockdown.” It would prevent all of those motor-vehicle-related deaths and help avoid lots of comorbidities by getting people up and moving. But no one in this country is about to propose a motor-vehicle lockdown.

Most Americans aren’t even willing to go along with reducing speeds on urban roads to levels that Scandinavian countries have shown will save lives. Then again, most Americans have no clue as to the big role speeds play in killing people in urban areas. Why?

Because the mainstream media doesn’t report on these sorts of things. And why don’t they?

Ironically, it is for the same – albeit opposite – reason that the mainstream reported on the pandemic the way it did: the mainstream has become the propaganda arm of the talking heads in local, state and federal government bureaucracies.

On SARS-CoV-2,  the mainstream mouthed the bureaucratic line that Covid-19 was an equal-opportunity killer because that is what the media was fed.  And when the media isn’t fed something by the bureaucracy, it doesn’t report anything.

Against this backdrop, it should come as no surprise polls now find most Americans don’t trust the mainstream. One might even consider it good that most Americans don’t trust the mainstream because there is an inherent threat to democracy in putting bureaucracies in charge of the “news.”

Since late President Ronald Reagan initiated the “War on Drugs” in 1986, the country has had a  big bureaucracy prosecuting that war. This has done nothing to stop drug abuse in the country. Overdose deaths have just gone up.

But this war waged on American soil for decades has put millions of people in prison, a large percentage of them black men.

“Black people comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population and are consistently documented by the U.S. government to use drugs at similar rates to people of other races. But Black people comprise 30 percent of those arrested for drug law violations,” according to the Drug Policy Alliance, “and nearly 40 percent of those incarcerated in state or federal prison for drug law violations.”

If Black lives truly matter, someone would fix this problem, but black lives only matter to a white-dominated mainstream media when the problem is allegedly the suppression of the black minority by a “privileged” white class of which most reporters happen to be members.

And they wouldn’t dare point a finger at one of the real problems facing the black community because the government bureaucracy has a huge vested, financial interest in continuing the prosecution of the War on Drugs, and the mainstream media isn’t about to take on its co-conspirators in the national propaganda wars.

Why some of the mainstream media are even arguing the need for the government to fund them to “save” the news. This pretty much defines the word self-important.

Sadly, in all honesty at this point, I also admit to having no idea as to how the mainstream disengages from the mess it’s gotten into with modern-day news gathering. Given its shrunken and still shrinking size in a world where economics matter even if most reporters don’t seem to get that either, there wouldn’t be much to your local “news” if not for the steady stream of handouts government sources launder through their media friends.

The mainstream is now so married to the business of the tail shaking the dog it might not be capable of making significant changes in how it gathers information. Still, it could stop wasting time on pious fact-checking, ranting about  “misinformation,” and trying to smear social media as the playground of the misinformed.

The consistent pursuit of these objectives ends up making the media look way too much like a total government propaganda organ, and for those who know their American history, there have in the past been some truly troublesome connections between the media and government propaganda.

Just because things are bad now doesn’t mean they could get a lot worse.



5 replies »

  1. Start passing law that prohibit government from spending our money to employ flacks.
    Regarding the disparity between Blacks and others, recognize that the Great Society has been harmful to those is was supposed to help.

  2. Craig, nice article. A few points if I may:
    1. Fact Checkers? I thought that was one of the primary functions of a journalist.
    2. It used to be the case that journalists challenged the establishment/government narrative. Remember the Pentagon Papers, Iran Contra and The My Lai Massacre? Now they just line up, lock step, to promote establishment/government narratives.
    3. There was a time when most folks thought the CDC was there to protect us. Now, many/most don’t trust them at all. This goes for the WHO, NIH, FDA and every other alphabet organization. They all appear to be shills for their government/corporate overlords. This goes double for teachers unions and school boards.
    4. The MSM is dead but too stupid to realize the fact. The great unwashed get their news from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. The critical thinkers get their news from blogs and substack sites from the likes of Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Bari Weiss, Michael Shellenberger, Irina Slav, Doomberg etc.
    5. Our country is dying from the inside. Kids can’t tell you anything about the Constitution or the Bill of Rights…most couldn’t even name their Governor….but they can quote you chapter and verse on the latest social media influencers and TikTok stars. We have become a nation of uninformed dullards. In the USA, to a large extent, meritocracy is no longer the yardstick by which folks are measured. It’s all about DEI and other sophomoric BS.
    6. I have been fortunate to work around the world. In China, Russia, India and a hundred other countries they know what a woman is, which bathroom to use and they are unconcerned with your preferred pronouns. Instead they compete in science, math, engineering and the arts. There are no participation trophies and failure to perform at the top of your class condemns you to a life of drudgery. It is deadly serious business from an early age.
    Rant over………..

  3. Well said as always. Journalism is replete with Dunning-Kruger exemplars. Perhaps no moreso than any other field, but they sure hang it out publicly for all to see.
    Their saving grace is the Gell-Mann amnesia effect.

  4. We live in an authoritarian state where any reporter trying to do investigate journalism is punished by the state.
    Here is a reporter in Ohio trying to cover the environmental catastrophe that dumped hydrochloric acid into the atmosphere as a byproduct of the fire.
    He was arrested and handcuffed in a public building.

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