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Fake News Kills

Exposing Fake News
Last week, we learned the only thing more contagious than COVID-19 is fake news.

Contradictory stories about the disease proliferated online, often from the same news sources. Is the coronavirus mortality rate 1 percent? Is it 5 percent? Will face masks keep us safe or put us in danger? Is the coronavirus more or less deadly than the Spanish Flu? The answers depend on which news source you prefer. You can find any answer you’d like as long as you’re willing to Google it.

One thing we know for certain is that fake news can kill political careers.

The mainstream media is desperate to turn the coronavirus scare into President Donald Trump’s Hurricane Katrina. What does that mean? It means they’re motivated to overhype this story simply so they can pile as much pressure as possible onto the president.

As just one example, CNN is calling the outbreak a “pandemic”.  Neither the World Health Organization nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have defined COVID-19 as a pandemic, but why should facts stand in the way of a media narrative? In response, Trump is compelled to show that he’s working hard to resolve this crisis.

But really, what can a president do to prevent the spread of a contagious disease? Trump is the head bureaucrat, not the head of medicine. Would you expect him to be toiling away in the West Wing in desperate search of a cure? Of course not. And if he actually closed the border, I’m sure that Rachel Maddow’s head would explode.

The media overhype combined with the presidential overreaction may cause Americans to overreact. Or maybe they’ll roll their eyes since we’ve seen the media overhype stories countless times previously. At times, I wonder if the editor of most news outlets these days is Chicken Little.

But since the media is demanding that Trump fix this crisis, he’s obviously going to have to look busy. Will his actions make us safer? Probably not, but what does that have to do with anything? Perception is reality, right? We merely need to perceive that the president is keeping us safe.

Perhaps the most memorable post-9/11 moment was George W. Bush’s inspirational Ground Zero bullhorn speech. Did the speech save any lives? Nope. Did Bush destroy Al Qaeda with his words? Of course not. But it looked great on TV! Had W.  gone to New Orleans with a bucket and some paper towels after Katrina perhaps his polling numbers wouldn’t have taken such a dive.

It’s times like these that make you realize our political system is only one step removed from the WWE. It’s all for show.

Fake news also might kill whatever credibility the media have left. Over the weekend the news broke that a CPAC attendee had coronavirus. In response, a New York Times writer tweeted that she didn’t agree with the political leanings of those in attendance at CPAC, but hoped they were safe.

Just kidding! Elizabeth Williamson of the “newspaper of record” tweeted that the CPAC outbreak shouldn’t be celebrated because there were also “kids, older people, reporters, waitstaff, janitorial crew” in attendance. In response, Accuracy in Media is mobilizing our online army to get some clarification from Williamson. Is she really OK with a bunch of conservatives from flyover country falling ill as long as the waitstaff is ok?

If we’re lucky, fake news will kill demand for nationalized health care. These bureaucratic bozos can’t get testing kits into the hands of doctors; they can’t manage a supply chain of face masks and Lysol. Would you really trust them if your loved one had cancer?

Meanwhile, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working swiftly to distribute coronavirus testing kits.  A billionaire solving problems that the politicians can’t handle? Don’t tell Bernie!

Adam Guillette is the President of Accuracy in Media,

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