I’m Done – A Guest post by Michael Hooten
You know, I used to be among the group that believed that President Trump’s twitter usage was no big deal. I thought he used it to tweak the press, to get them to overreact, and to generally misdirect them while he did other, more significant things in the background.
Not any more.
Now, I believe that he should tweet more, and find even more ways to subvert the press to get his message out, and to do so with all the passion and bombacity he has ever shown.
Why the change of heart? Because of this past Sunday, March 15, 2020. I saw firsthand what the press is willing to do to stoke the panic in this country over a virus that while certainly dangerous, is not likely to approach plague level death, even in those countries most affected.
I’m not even talking about the way the press has given us every worst case scenario they could dream of in that serious, authoritative voice they use to inform us of our impending doom. That’s bad enough. No, what finally put me over the edge was a simple thing, really. I wanted to know what Trump said at his press conference on Sunday. And it was not very easy.
Think about how you get news: you go to your favorite news site, or you turn on the TV, and you skim through the headlines. See what the top stories are. And yes, Sunday evening, there were plenty of articles about Coronavirus everywhere I looked. And then on a local news aggregate, I saw that Trump had given an address about the state of things. And when I clicked the link… it was broken. But I saw that it had come from a local news station, and I went to their website, and looked for the article. It wasn’t on the front page, but I did find it as #7 on their most read stories on the sidebar. Clicked on it, and got a wire article that started off with this:
President Donald Trump on Sunday called on Americans to cease hoarding groceries and other supplies, while one of the nation’s most senior public health officials called on the nation to act with more urgency to safeguard their health as the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread across the United States. Dr. Anthony Fauci says he would like to see aggressive measures such as a 14-day national shutdown.
Great lede, don’t you think? That last sentence especially really puts it all into perspective, essentially saying that Trump is urging people to stop panicking, but one of the leading experts is urging for even more drastic measures.
Great. Now try to find the press conference from Sunday. Not coming up? Well, the article I pulled that quote from didn’t give a link to the address itself, but to the daily CDC briefing, and as a live link. Not the last one they gave. And definitely not to the address that Trump gave. So I googled “Trump address Sunday”, and found a few articles that were basically the same wire report quoted above. And the videos the search gave me were mostly from the previous week, but none from Sunday.
So I tried this: “Trump march 15”. The second video was this one, which is a clip from the address, but not the whole thing. Still, some good information in there, if you care to watch. And a slam of the press for spreading fake news, which is looking more and more justified.
Because the next thing I looked for was Dr Fauci’s wanting a 14 day national shutdown. That was the implication you got, wasn’t it? But it took me a bit to find that actual video as well. And it was not exactly what it was advertised to be, what a shock. Dr Fauci urged caution, preferred over-reaction to under reaction, but also urged rational approach. Not all areas needed a shutdown, he said. And not all places were going to be as affected. And the situation is serious, but not dire. But don’t trust me, watch it for yourself.
I hate the press right now. The words they use are designed to scare. The stories they highlight are the most extreme. They do not compare it to previous pandemics, or even to the typical flu. The misinformation is subtle, and they claim to be giving us the facts, but then they spread rumour and innuendo. Are the facts there? Kind of. If you look. But not it’s not what they highlight. Look at that opening paragraph again. Half a sentence of Trump the authoritarian jerk. The rest is dire projections and how we need to ignore him.
We’re in the midst of a panic. It’s unnecessary, counter productive, and quite frankly, dangerous. The press is asking, “Can we handle this?” and then telling us that we really can’t.
So now, I want Trump to route around them. Find ways to spread the message, and by all means, mock the press. When this passes, and it will, be the one who looks like he hadn’t lost his mind. And then do a super cut of all the ways the press stoked this inferno.
Just be prepared to cut it down a bit. Because no one watches videos that last for days.