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Media is stoking fear and panic over COVID-19

Media is stoking fear and panic over COVID-19

If America is panicking over the COVID-19 – commonly referred to as the Coronavirus — you can thank Democrats and their friends in what was once the news media.

Contrary to the good advice to stay calm, get the facts and do not panic, news anchors, panelists and newspaper reporters are reporting at a hysterical level.  It is in their voices and the extreme focus on this one issue.

As a result, the stock market – which is said to respond to greed or fear – is bouncing around like a pachinko ball – virtually every major public venue is shutting down and the public is stripping the shelves of supermarkets of “essential items.”

Reporters pay lip service to listening to the medical professionals, but they do not heed their own advice.  Most of the coverage is by media people – anchors, reporters, analysts and contributors — whose dominant professional characteristic is spreading gossip and sensationalizing stories.  They even have an expression for it.  If it bleeds, it leads.

Many of the doctors they interview – or put on television to answer questions – are more media personalities than doctors.  More importantly, they are not the inside authorities.  The more important medical information and advice come from professionals such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and a prominent member of the White House Task Force dealing with the Coronavirus issues.

Outside of the daily Task Force briefings, Dr. Fauci has been the most knowledgeable person in media interviews.  His reports are not nearly as alarming or speculative as the general media reports – and sadly, his public statements are too often ignored in favor of the more mendacious media narratives.

An example of media hype was an interview with a college professor — who coincidentally is currently peddling a book he wrote on infectious diseases.  He said the Coronavirus outbreak will last for months and months and keep America shut down for the rest of the year – basically disputing Dr. Fauci, and others, who say Coronavirus is a seasonal disease and is expected to crest in a matter of weeks.

Dr. Fauci says not to wear masks unless you are infected.  On another channel, they are recommending masks.   Dr. Fauci said that doorknobs are not significant transmitters of the disease.  On another channel, some doctors said they are and recommended that you cover the knob before opening a door.  Many of these doctors are not even experts in infectious diseases.  One was some local pediatrician and another a gynecologist.

A great deal of criticism has been made over the issue of testing – intimating that we need enough equipment to test every American.  Interestingly, Dr. Fauci has not been tested because he does not have any symptoms.  The media, however, spins testing EVERYONE into an attack on Trump.

The media complained that President Trump was not tested – even though he does not fit the profile of those the medical professionals say needs to be tested.  When Trump was tested, they complained that it was not soon enough – and that a tested person could contract the disease the next day. They opined that he should be tested regularly.  Using that hyperbolic logic, we would have to be testing 330 million Americans every other day.

On CNN they showed a photo of Dr. Fauci adjusting a microphone that Trump had must touched – suggesting that he was not using proper precautions.  Dr. Fauci laughed and told them to get real.

The response on the ground is getting crazy.  I noticed that the checkout clerks at my local Walgreens are wearing rubber gloves.  Why?  The virus can live on the surface of a rubber glove – and unless you change gloves after every customer, they are useless.  That is why doctors and nurses change gloves before seeing the next patient.  In terms of protecting the clerk, the virus does not enter through the skin – but it can be passed along.

Everyone agrees that we do not know how many people may have the disease at this time, but that does not stop media speculation.  Dr. Fauci says we simply do not know.  But a local doctor in Ohio told MSNBC that the Buckeye State has more than 100,000 unreported cases.  She later apologized for her intemperate and baseless speculation, but that did not stop the press from reporting that number repeatedly.

Sometimes you have to do the math on your own.

So far, we have about 51 deaths in the United States.  By way of comparison, that is far fewer than people murdered in Chicago this year.  Fewer than victims of auto accidents.  Fewer than the more than 40,000 suicides in America each year.  Fewer than the 70,000 people who die of drug overdoses.  Fewer than the 5000 folks who choke on food.  And so far this year, 20,000 people died of the flu – mostly those “up in years.”

Conversely, if the 51 deaths represent three percent of the claimed death rate, there should be about 1,650 cases.   They tell us that there are approximately 2400 cases in the U.S.  That should have resulted in 72 deaths – nearly a 50 percent increase.

Now here is where you must pay close attention.  We are being told in the media that there may be hundreds of thousands – and even millions – of cases that we have not yet identified because of a lack of testing. Using the lowest figure of 100,000, that should result in 3,000 deaths at a rate of three percent.  One million cases would have killed 30,000 people.  We are nowhere near those numbers. The mere fact that we do not know those folks who might have the Coronavirus would not have prevented three percent of them from dying.

Something is very wrong in the numbers.  Either we have fewer unknown cases than is speculated OR the American death rate is much lower than stated (which I predicted in an earlier commentary) OR there are not nearly as many sick people out there as partisan politicians and the media claim.

It is noteworthy that where testing has been more vigorous – such as in South Korea – 98 to 99 percent of the tests garnered negative results.  They are not uncovering large numbers of previously unknown infected individuals.  That suggests that we should not look to more testing as some major benefit.  Yes, more testing is good, but not the panacea that we have been led to believe.

The speculative and baseless numbers advanced in the media and self-serving politicians only serve to spread fear and panic.  Democrat Congressman Tony Cardenas, of California, accused the members of the entire White House Task Force – which includes Dr. Fauci — of being flat-out liars.  By his own uninformed estimation, the Coronavirus is very “deadly” (his emphasis) – a term generally reserved for disease with much higher death rates.  Cardenas conceded that young people may avoid symptoms of a more serious case, but he warned them that they COULD bring the virus home and kill their grandma.  That is outrageous and unconscionable political fearmongering.

The folks in the media are calling for “mass testing” – far beyond the recommendations of the medical professionals.  They then judge the effectiveness of the White House – President Trump – based on their bogus numbers and their own calls for excessive testing.  The assumption of the media seems to be that if you are sick – with anything – you should be afraid.  And if you are not feeling sick at all – you should be very afraid.  Afraid?  No, you should panic.

It is also not clear if the stated number of cases includes all those who HAD the Coronavirus and are over it.  Since we are told that 80 percent will only have mild cases – not needing any medical intervention – and even of the more serious cases, the vast majority will recover – it is not at all clear just how many individuals are currently walking around with the virus in a COMMUNICABLE CONDITION.

The cruise ship numbers suggest that the vast majority of those quarantined or isolated — and have come in contact with a person with Coronavirus — did not contract the disease.  That seems to be the case for the general population as well.

Unfortunately, part of the media-driven hysteria is political – a large part.  They are more than eager to report, amplify and spin every criticism of Trump coming from obsessed Democrats.  This could make Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) America’s political pandemic.

There seems to be no aspect of the Coronavirus outbreak that the elitist left-wing media cannot and will not spin into a negative story against President Trump. They promulgate distrust in the actions of the White House – maliciously elevating the public fear factor.  Nothing about the Coronavirus outbreak – or anything else happening in the world – gets more attention from the left-wing press than an obsessive, pernicious one-sided negative prosecution of the President.

As a person in the high-risk category, you can rest assured that I would not make light of any disease that could kill me.  It is just that I think the risk of the Coronavirus taking me down is not as high as the reports suggest – especially for septuagenarians like me who have normal vitality despite having a few of those so-called “underlying health issues.” I can understand the concern for those of advanced age WITH advanced diseases – those in final care facilities, for example.  They are susceptible to grave consequences from a common cold.  On several occasions, Dr. Fauci has tried to make the distinction between older and very old with advanced diseases.

I have personally lived through the H1N1 pandemic (1957), the H3N2 Virus pandemic (1968), the SARS epidemic (2002)  and the H1N1pdm09 pandemic (2009) and none of them created the panic we see associated with the current Coronavirus.   I wonder why?

And if you are not scared enough, the MERS virus – that originated in the Middle East — is still out there.  It is also a novel coronavirus, but with a death rate of 34.45 percent.  And yes, it has arrived in the United States.

I cannot help but wonder if we had treated the Coronavirus like we treated past epidemics and pandemics,  could we have avoided an overreaction?  If it were not an election year, would the press have politicized the story as much?

The medical professionals say we should take “reasonable precautions.”  I agree.  But have we gone beyond reasonable – and done unnecessary great social and economic damage in the process?  I think that is a question we should consider.

I try to watch the White House Task Force briefing every day.  That is where the most respected medical professionals in the nation provide the best information.  I find that the media intentionally misreports what they say and plays political games over such extraneous issues as whether the President has had a Coronavirus test or whether the President had gone too far in trying to calm the nation.

It would be my recommendation that every concerned citizen should watch the complete White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing and then turn to the movie channel so as not to be unduly influenced by panic-producing biases, misinformation, disinformation and outright lies being perpetrated by the Fourth Estate.

So there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. John Dunavant

    nothing in the media nor social media to listen to or panic about.just political propaganda.if you panic you are just one more liberal sheep.

  2. Kurt Walker

    I have to agree on some of this media. Some of these “reporters” who come to the daily briefing are there with planned notes to try to “nail” the president for something. It’s fairly easy to pick them out if you watch closely. They will ask a trick question and then after the president answers the question they immediately refer back to their notes with a follow up of doubt to his answer. AND some of them attempt to “hog” the briefing with their phony questions. The white house would better serve the greater public if the expert panel and the president came on by themselves and briefed the nation and left the “press” out of the picture entirely.

  3. Elsie Tarczy

    I totally agree with you. I too am concerned that just because one test is negative doesn’t mean you still can’t contract the virus and how many tests should we get? I take precautions all the time because I have immune suppressed family members.

  4. Richard Dorsch

    I totally agree that the majority of the public can and are easily brainwashed by the media and politicians whose agenda is clearly to destroy Trump. This began in 2016 and now they will try as hard as they can to continue this panic right in to the 2020 election by blaming Trump. This is the last and only hope that the left wing media and sorry ass politicians now have to bring Trump down.

  5. TurtleShroom

    You are completely wrong. Our shoddy excuses for news media are actually doing something good for once. This hype and exaggeration IS SAVING LIVES.

    My grandfather has mild COPD and a recording sinus infection. This virus, against him, is the perfect killing machine.

    If my sister had not been following the media, which reported my county’s first deaths THAT DAY, I would have, in my ignorance, gone out with him today.

    That may well have saved his life.

    • Larry Horist

      I may have saved his life … but probably was not a factor. You grandfather’s chance of getting the virus was very low and dying even lower. We can know that statistically, but of course some people will die. 20,000 to 40,000 people — disproportionately seniors — die from the flu each year. I am not against taking sensible precautions — and even more serious precautions when dealing with the most vulnerable. When I get a cold, I try to avoid older and people with serious chronic conditions. But if you examine the figures, do the math and listen to the medical professionals who know what is going on, you can avoid panic. You are wise to take precautions with your grandfather — especially if his is over 80 and in the advanced stages of chronic illnesses. We have endured many epidemics and pandemics, flus and colds — some with much higher death rates — in my lifetime. I just do not understand why we have such an extreme response to this one.

  6. Ernest Lane

    Without a doubt. I bet when we look backon this, the coronavirus is really little more than a serious flu outbreak. Look at the death count from coronavirus compared to the regular flu — not to mention from traffic accidents, murders and other things.

    This may turn out to be little more than the media and the Democrats doing whatever to elect Biden and a Democrat Senate. Heaven help us.