Good Friday Morning to everyone, except to Democrats blocking new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. The PPP is a vital lifeline to many businesses trying to stay above water (all this is causing some Democrats to bolt over the politics). The program ran out of money, and Democrats are blocking more funding to get more pet projects included while Congress is out of session. The longer the delay, the more likely it is businesses will go collapse.
One of my issues with Congress and the media is that they’ve not recognized that we’re in a pandemic. Pandemic economics (purposely restricting supply and demand) is not the same as recession economics (juicing supply and/or demand). The economic toolbox to solve this situation doesn’t match normal politics. Pelosi, in particular, is stuck on this point. That’s why she’s out giving interviews, showing off her luxurious freezer full of ice-cream, while this pandemic continues to roll and business sink. It’s some of the most idiotic, tone-deaf politics I’ve ever seen. Hopefully, it clears up soon because people need help.
This week I’m going to build on a thought I heard on the Commentary Magazine podcast on why the media’s disdain for the public has made getting facts harder. Links to follow.
- I mentioned this on the podcast, and I want to hit it again: it’s astounding what we’ve done in a month. Right now, the United States is averaging nearly 150,000 tests a day. States like Tennessee are moving towards testing anyone who wants one — which is the highest ideal. The reason being that the more we test, the more we can quarantine anyone sick or asymptomatic. That, in turn, allows healthy people to leave mandatory quarantine conditions. We have a long way to go, and the death total has hit all-time highs in the United States the last three days, but the light is beginning to show. We’re almost on the downward slope.
Where you can find me this week
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Podcast #32: Bernie drops out and the coronavirus continues. – The Beltway Outsiders Podcast
COVID-19 places the European Union at the brink – again – The Conservative Institute
COVID-19 models aren’t right or wrong, they’re just less uncertain – The Conservative Institute
Media contempt builds distrust
There’s a great piece in Commentary Magazine, “Elite Panic vs. the Resilient Populace” (you can listen to a discussion of it on their podcast). In it, the author relates the story of an earthquake in Alaska that leveled a large town. The story goes through how the aftermath was dealt with poorly by state leadership, whereas the people actually handled events just fine. The phenomenon is called elite panic:
Disaster researchers call this phenomenon “elite panic.” When authorities believe their own citizens will become dangerous, they begin to focus on controlling the public, rather than on addressing the disaster itself. They clamp down on information, restrict freedom of movement, and devote unnecessary energy to enforcing laws they assume are about to be broken. These strategies don’t just waste resources, one study notes; they also “undermine the public’s capacity for resilient behaviors.” In other words, nervous officials can actively impede the ordinary people trying to help themselves and their neighbors.
Sounds a lot like China, right? Well, we’ve seen some of that over here too, with some states cracking down harshly, preventing people from buying gardening supplies, or arresting drive-in church services. It’s leadership that is panicking and causing problems, not the people.
That describes government leadership panicking. The point the Commentary crew got into on the podcast was another elite group panicking: the media. They’re doing the same thing in this situation: clamping down on information and devoting unnecessary energy to useless storylines. It’s a point I’ve hit on but hadn’t seen put precisely like that, and I think it’s what we’re witnessing — especially in the national media.
Media picks meaningless fights.
The daily Trump press conferences are wild in several ways. But one of the most bizarre aspects is the national journalists continually looking for ways to tear apart any point the administration is making. I understand fact-checking, getting clarification, and other things, but these journalists are picking political squabbles and attacking anything the administration says instead of seeking the truth.
The near-daily arguments over which drugs may or not work, the fights over petty political topics, and more dominate the national press’s interest right now. Combine with that the media’s almost knee-jerk defense as of late anything dealing with the World Health Organization or China, just because Trump attacks them, and it’s a bizarre sight. Christine Rosen, who made these points on the podcast, said in a piece:
The media’s willingness to make misleading comparisons between China and the U.S. isn’t evidence of a coordinated strategy or a conspiracy by left-leaning reporters. What we have is a press corps for whom cognitive dissonance in the Trump era has become such a familiar feeling that many no longer bother to delete the tweets or retract the stories whose factual inaccuracies are revealed days later—just so long as they continue to feed the desired narrative. All those scurrilous things written about Tom Cotton? Never retracted or corrected. Meanwhile, a meretricious organization like the WHO, whose culpability in mishandling the pandemic response is clear, continues to be treated respectably by journalists.
If our media are warriors for the truth, aggressively questioning the claims of the powerful and our institutions, why have they been so astonishingly cowardly about naming the obvious villain in this tragedy? And what does that tell us about how they define the truth?
It’s a sign that the media is having the same kind of elite panic as officials. They’re attacking the White House because it’s their comfort zone for one. But also, they don’t trust the American people to listen to anything the White House says. When media or elites are having this kind of panic, it’s because they think too little of the people they’re serving.
The only way to panic in the way the press is doing is holding a low opinion of the public. It’s a form of elite condescension. The media believes the public is too stupid to get the truth, so they attack everything and try to frame how people see everything. The irony, of course, is that more people are turning to those press briefings and social media to get their news instead of a single media outlet.
It’s the view of Hilary Clinton’s “deplorables” speech. It’s Barack Obama’s “cling to God and guns” speech. It’s the New York Times sending reporters out to “real America” for a few weeks to pretend they understand anyone outside their bubble. Its groupthink that believes it is smarter than the average person.
But all those lines of thought have come face-to-face with a pandemic. And the all the beliefs and fears national journalists have about regular Americans are translating into fear and panic. It’s worth comparing how national journalists treat the daily news and local journalists. If you’re watching or reading local journalism, you likely have a decent idea of how things are going in your area. The Governors and mayors get to lay out a plan, the journalists get more information, and everything gets disseminated.
Instead of a relationship built around distrust, local journalism is helping people get resources and information. This point obviously isn’t true everywhere, but it is for most people.
National journalists are reflecting the political polarization around them. And as such, they’re creating an environment where people can discount what the media says purely on political grounds. Whenever you see the stories of political polarization and the virus, it’s always read negatively around Trump supporters. And it’s true that red states and Trump supporters on the right will say, more often, that they’re less worried about the virus.
But you’re also seeing all the red states, and these same people take precautions. Journalists believe they’re trying to save people from themselves. In reality, it’s just elite condescension. Everyone is taking appropriate actions regardless of what journalists are saying. Restaurants, bars, and other events saw steep declines in sales well before these mandated stay-at-home orders started going out.
Hopefully, the panic starts dying down soon. But given that most national journalists have headquarters in New York City, which is where the virus is the worst, the bubbled thinking is likely to continue.
Links of the week
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – the data – Our World In Data
What Comes Next for Small Businesses and PPP? – Mark Cuban
#MeToo Is Dead. The New York Times Killed It – Christine Rosen, Commentary Magazine
Early peek at data on Gilead coronavirus drug suggests patients are responding to treatment – Adam Feuerstein, Statnews
Did the World Health Organization ‘Take China’s Word’ Early On in the Pandemic? – Yes, actually. – Alec Dent, The Dispatch
FISA Bombshell: Russian Intelligence Knew Christopher Steele Was Investigating Trump During 2016 Campaign – Chuck Ross, Daily Caller
Twitter Thread(s) of the week
Satire piece of the week
Obama: ‘Biden Has Touched Us All’ – The Babylon Bee
U.S.—Former President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden for president in a touching, intimate video Tuesday, saying, “Biden has touched us all.”
Many were worried Obama wasn’t going to endorse Biden, but he came through for the DNC establishment, telling everyone how deeply and personally Biden has touched everyone he has ever worked with.
“Many leaders, um, you know, they, um, don’t rub you the right way,” Obama said. “But not Joe. Joe, see, he, um, touches everyone he comes into contact with, whether they want him to or not. He’s breathing down Trump’s neck in, um, in the race now, and I know he will overcome and grab a come-from-behind victory. I’m very fondle–excuse me–very fond of Joe, and with a stroke of luck, we’ll be able to lick Trump in this election as we grope about for the White House.”
Thanks for reading!