Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ebola Reality Check, Many Messages Ignored
Representative John Yarmuth (D-KY) asks the question: 
“Has the media coverage to so far been helpful
or harmful in your efforts to have the public
have an appropriate concern and awareness 
what the situation is?” 

(updated 10/21/2014)

News writers and television news anchors have taken what is essentially a West African epidemic and, to generate greater profits, marketed it as an American crisis ready to happen, irresponsibly exploiting America’s Ebola fears. All because the first Ebola patient died, and two of the nurses who treated him were tested positive for Ebola.

Thereality is that “The most important thing we can do to prevent Ebola from ever becoming a crisis in the United States is to help Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, where 10,000 new cases could crop up weekly unless the spread of the virus is slowed soon.”

But our politicians too are taking advantage of Ebola and “posturing for the midterm elections.”

“Mistakes have been made. Trust and credibility of the administration and government are waning. That trust must be restored.” That’s how Tim Murphy (R-PA), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman, set the stage for republican interrogation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden and other witnesses providing testimony. And his republican cohorts followed through by bashing President Obama. Taking advantage of Americans’ fears for their political gain.

However, there are a few sane, responsible writers, and at least one news anchor, who have written or spoken out about what is really going on.

Frank Bruni, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, writes about many things that are “Scarier Than Ebola.”

“During the 2013-2014 flu season, according to the [CDC], only 46 percent of Americans received vaccinations against influenza, even though it kills about 3,000 people in this country in a good year, nearly 50,000 in a bad one.”

The New Yorkers’ James Surowiecki writes about “Ebola vs. Flu.” He writes, “The real problem is that irrational fears often shape public behavior and public policy. They lead us to over-invest in theatre (such as airport screenings for Ebola) and to neglect simple solutions (such as getting a flu shot). If Americans learned that we were facing the outbreak of a new disease that was going to do what the flu will do in the next few months, the press would be banging the drums about vaccination.”

And Carolyn Gregoire, writing for The Huffington Post, tells us “Why We're All So Freaked Out About Ebola.”

But the most unlikely to report the truth about Ebola comes from Fox News. Shep Smith defines the problem by giving us “the facts on Ebola.” Smith says, “Fear not! Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio or on the television, or read the fear-provoking words online. The people who say and write hysterical things are being very irresponsible.”