Opinion: Our “boy who cried COVID” media is gross

by Peter Heck · Jun 20th, 2020 10:30 am

I had this eerie feeling like I'd seen it before. Scrolling through my Twitter feed, seeing Jake Tapper relate a story about how Florida was on the cusp of becoming the next "epicenter" of the coronavirus, I couldn't help but feel like I had heard this before.

Then I remembered why it felt like déjà vu. Because we've been hearing and reading this storyline over and over.

At this point, I have to admit my great concern has become that our overly politicized, "boy who cried COVID" media has completely and utterly shot their credibility to the point that no one can reliably trust what they say about the current state of the pandemic.

The examples are legion but I'll give you the latest. Just as I was about to set my phone down and mow the yard on Wednesday afternoon, I glanced at what was trending on Twitter and noticed "Orlando International Airport." Fearing some random act of violence or some potential air tragedy had occurred, I clicked to check the news. Here's what greeted me:

To say it was a feeding frenzy of leftists dunking on Governor Ron DeSantis for his failure to keep Floridians locked down and "safe" would be an understatement. What was particularly amazing was that the dogpile completely stonewalled virtually all the encouraging news that the governor shared in the press conference.

  • No tweet-fest about Florida hospitalizations being down 43% since April 15.
  • No celebration that outside of nursing homes, virtually no one in Florida is dying of COVID any longer.
  • No hysteria about ventilator and ICU use being down 56%.
  • No analysis about the fact that the median age of infected has plummeted from 65 to 37, meaning the death risk is shrinking in a state with a notably older population.

Instead it was, dare I say, a demonstration of noticeably unrestrained glee that the coronavirus monster had struck the Orlando transportation hub. This was a horde of people seizing on the media's obvious selective reporting of seemingly bad news, all for political ends.

I say seemingly because, as it turned out, Governor DeSantis misspoke in his press conference and garbled the report about Orlando International. The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority put out a media bulletin almost immediately to clarify and correct the error.

To summarize, of the 500 people tested at MCO, only 2 tested positive. That's a 0.4% positivity rate as opposed to the reported 52% positivity rate.

The 260 number was the combination of 132 people employed in some capacity at the airport who have had the virus sometime since March, and 128 additional positive people who don't work at the airport but came into contact with one of the 132 who do. As the Authority stated, the 132 airport employees are only 0.6% of all airport employees, and this is covering a span of 2.5 months. A monumental correction that, quite unsurprisingly, got far fewer retweets and shares than the original misstatement.

That's the way this continues to work. In Arizona, it's much the same: breathless reports about hospitalizations being way up without clarifying that much of it is due to a backlog of previously delayed elective surgeries. Some of those coming into the hospital are tested and found to have coronavirus – and they then become a statistic even though they have no symptoms and came to the hospital for a gall bladder surgery. In actuality the discovery of more asymptomatic coronavirus carriers is cause for celebration. It means precisely what Daniel Horowitz summarizes: "very contagious, lots of cases, few deaths."

Beyond the media, I understand the deeper issue going on here, of course. We are a godless people, and when moral authority ceases to exist in a society it is automatically replaced by power and the pursuit of it. In other words, politics. So, everything is politicized.

We don't root together for good news. We don't hope for the best in states that are shaded differently than our preferred red or blue. We bask in the glory of Governor Cuomo's nursing home gamble or a surge of sickness during Governor Abbott's re-opening. It's macabre and perverse, and even worse, it confuses those who resist political idolatry and are just trying to know how best to conduct their lives reasonably and responsibly, while caring for their neighbor.

Everyone with a microphone or megaphone has an agenda. And truth doesn't seem to be it.

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