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Soap Opera Politics
If there is one thing we know for certain about the American press corps’ interaction with President Trump, it is that they presuppose him an unserious and very vain dolt. If anyone grabs too much of the spotlight or utters anything disloyal, the President throws them out the door.
That is what so much of the press believes. In fact, I suspect some of you reading believe it too. Certainly, some in the White House believe it. They have tried to exploit it by circulating rumors about various people riding too high in the saddle. The press has tried to drum up divisions between the President and Vice President in this way.
How many stories have we read about the Vice President overshadowing the President or operating as a shadow President, etc.? These were not true, but they were circulated to try to spark division in the soap opera-like drama of Washington.
The press fundamentally believes the President will fire people who are more likable than him, overshadow him, or make him look bad by outperforming him.
So I have to wonder if a portion of the press corps is trying to get a lot of Americans killed right now.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has loyally served Presidents of the United States going back to Ronald Reagan. In 2008, due to his loyal service to the nation, President George W. Bush awarded Dr. Fauci the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Dr. Fauci is the most prominent voice in the administration now and its foremost presence on national television. But in the past several days, various media outlets have started pushing stories about Fauci undermining the President. Various reporters on Twitter have grabbed screenshots of Dr. Fauci at White House press briefings where he appears to be rolling his eyes or shaking his head when the President speaks — the full film shows he was not doing either.
There have been stories where the media plays up what appears to be Fauci disagreeing with the President or being critical of the President, but these have been taken out of context too.
Given the media’s presuppositions about the President, it is reasonable to conclude some journalists are trying to get Dr. Fauci fired. Why would they do that? Is this not a crisis where they want the best men and women in charge?
The reason is that the media is addicted to drama. In the past two weeks, there has not only been no drama, but the President’s approval ratings for handling the crisis have gone up. Both Gallup and ABC News have polling showing as much. The drama of the virus should be enough, but the media now is addicted to the soap opera narrative.
When not trying to break up the marriage of George and Kellyanne Conway, the Washington press corps these days seems to pick other targets to try to get the President firing in that target’s direction. Right now, it is Dr. Fauci the press is after and they are after him selfishly. As long as President Trump is relying on Dr. Fauci, the President looks presidential. That is too much for the media.
Now they have to try to spark drama, get Fauci fired and go back to their narrative of an out of control, vain, and petty President.
Cancel the Briefings?
As a quick aside, I suspect we are about to see very loud calls for the White House press briefings to be canceled. Why? Because the President’s approval rating is going up.
We have witnessed the press, for several years, demand briefings from the White House. They are now getting them every day. The President’s approval has gone up correspondingly. Therefore, I can conclude we will start to see screams about the briefings. We’ll hear that it is impossible for Fauci and Birx to work if they’re always on TV. We’ll hear that the President is lying and harming the public. Heck, look at reporters trying to tie him to idiots taking fish tank cleaner because it contains chloroquine phosphate.
The press is going to now oppose what they’ve long demanded because these briefings are helping the President.
For a great example of the media manufacturing controversy where there is none, consider the President suggesting he wants people going back to work by Easter. Actually, what the President said was, and I quote:
I think Easter Sunday and you’ll have packed churches all over our country, I think it would be a beautiful time, and it’s just about the timeline that I think is right. It gives us more chance to work on what we’re doing and I’m not sure that’s going to be the day but I would love to aim it right at Easter Sunday so we are open for church service and services generally on Easter Sunday, that would be a beautiful thing. [Emphasis added]
Later in the day, the President said he would continue to rely on the experts and he was not committed to Easter Sunday being the day.
I will forgive you if you did not know any of that. The press corps ran with the story as the President saying the nation will go back to work on Easter Sunday. There has been a collective freak out. But the press is reporting the President as definitive when he said multiple times that he was not being definitive. He wanted that as the goal, but he was not sure it was possible.
Yet again, the media is destroying its own credibility trying to destroy the President’s credibility. For all the issues you or I could have with the President, this really should not be one of them.
It kind of strikes me as the outrage-o-meter needing a re-calibration. Right now, if the President says the sky is blue a certain segment of America will deny it, scream about the President, and hate the color blue. I don’t want to downplay disputes with the President. I vehemently disagreed with his behavior on Friday as Pete Alexander asked him a question.
But wanting to set a goal and noting it depends on what the experts say is really not something to get upset about. And frankly, given the way so many people think the President operates, getting mad about it and self-immolating about it makes it more likely the President is going to push for that day. So calm down.
The Markets and Death
I do have to laugh at the number of pro-abortion progressives who retweeted this tweet of mine:
It’s likewise a bit appalling at the number of conservatives who have seemingly taken the position that because people die all the time, this is no different. But in 2018, the motor vehicle fatality rate in the United States was only 36,560. Less than 4,000 people drowned in pools. In the 2017-2018 period, roughly 61,000 people died of the seasonal flu. The government estimates that 606,880 people died of cancer in 2019.
It is true that the cure for COVID-19 should not be worse than COVID-19. It is also true that there is an acceptable level of risk in restarting the economy. But we have only just ramped up testing. There is still a delay. The virus is still spreading.
What is the acceptable risk here? If the mortality rate of COVID-19 is 1%, as Dr. Fauci thinks it actually is, and one person spreads it to 3 other people, if we let it spread like the seasonal flu, even I a non-math major, can do the basic calculations.
In 2018, the seasonal flu infected 44,802,629 Americans. One person is presumed to infect 1.3 people with the seasonal flu. So let’s double that number for COVID-19 and keep a conservative estimate. But remember that there is no vaccine for COVID-19 like there is with the flu. Nonetheless, let’s go for the most conservative “it’s nothing more than the seasonal flu” comparison and we get 89,605,258 COVID-19 infections.
Again, remember, the number will probably be higher because there is no vaccine and we actually do now know 1 person infects 3 people. So the real number would be over 100,000,000. But let’s go with the super conservative estimate of what it would look like if we treated this exactly like the seasonal flu or the H1N1 flu.
Well, the seasonal flu and H1N1 both kill between 0.1% and 0.3% of those infected. COVID-19 kills, conservatively 1%. That means COVID-19 would kill 896,053 people in the most conservative estimate possible.
In other words, COVID-19 will kill more people than cancer will kill and will do so in a few months, not a year as part of a multi-year cancer struggle.
If you are okay with close to a million Americans dying so you can go back to work, okay.
But let’s be really honest about what is going on here. President Trump and Vice President Pence are relying on the expertise of the Surgeon General, the head of the CDC, the head of the National Institutes of Health, and various other MDs, Ph.Ds, and other experts to give them informed opinion and also facts.
You’re relying on internet memes and your emotions to tell you it is not true.
It really is fantastic to see a bunch of people who think the President is always right decide the President may be right, but the people advising him are all wrong.
Consider a few other points.
Dr. Fauci was in government advising the President when H1N1 started spreading. He did not advocate the nation shutting down then. Why? Was it to protect Barack Obama or because H1N1 spread a lot like influenza because it is, in fact, a strain of influenza and we can manage that one?
Great Britain and the Netherlands decided to do exactly what some of you are advocating — going for herd immunity and continuing on with everyone’s daily lives. Now they are rapidly scrambling to shut down their nations and keep everyone at home. Why is that? Because they want to cause economic calamity or to hurt President Trump’s re-election or because they realize their hospitals will be overwhelmed and a ton of people will die?
There is a cost to keeping everything shut down. And there are reasonable mortality expectations in life generally. We do business every day knowing someone is going to die from something. But we also know if we all stay put in our homes for 2 weeks, we could save close to a million people and then all go back to work.
Maybe hydroxychloroquine and a z pack will save us. I hope so. We will soon find out. But in the meantime, I think rational Americans should be willing to say we can take the two-week hit to save a million lives.
Or is the President wrong about that?
By the way, H1N1 and the seasonal flu are both influenza strains. COVID-19 is not. Those of you digging your heels in on the argument that it is just another flu are not only wrong on the merits of your argument, but also on the basic science of the matter.
One Last Thing on the Economy
The President’s advisors are hinting at a good way to move forward. They’re mapping data down to the zipcodes of America. They can track the viral spread and containment and also the economic picture.
Part of my annoyance in how this whole thing is covered is that the NYC-DC media are convinced the rest of the country must be as up poop creek as New York. Actually, New York is in a world of hurt, in large part because of local officials. Here, for example, is the Health Commissioner of New York City still claiming COVID-19 would not spread in a community even though by February when she said this we all knew otherwise.
New York City has handled this terribly. No amount of attacking President Trump will change that. They handled it terribly.
But the media is so NYC-centric and, beyond that, so urban-centric, the media can’t seem to process that other places may get over it sooner or not be as impacted by the virus.
It is a really smart approach from the White House to monitor the country and encourage economic re-engagement in those areas where it is possible when it is possible.
The President is making the right call on urging people not to travel. He is making the right call in setting a goal for economic re-engagement. He is making the right call at looking at the problem regionally, not in one big national picture. Sadly, the media cannot seem to do that as MSNBC ably demonstrated yesterday: