Brian C. Joondeph, M.D.
Media Malpractice on COVID Numbers
COVID-19 data are and have been all over the map since this entire mess gained steam earlier this year. It has gotten to the point that any “numbers” presented as news are suspect at best and fraudulent at worst.
Is this media incompetence or malpractice? Ignorant or deliberate?
Fox News ran a constant side bar in the early days of the pandemic, with U.S. death counts, much in the way cable news business shows run a ticker of the Dow or S&P 500. How morbid, but it provided fodder for media talking heads to run around like Kevin McCallister in Home Alone, waving their arms and screaming in panic.
Now that death counts are dropping to the point that they blend in with normal birth and death statistics, the media have predictably pivoted to case counts as their new hair-on-fire statistic to stoke fear, keep the economy shut down, and hopefully banish their nemesis back to the land of Mordor, also known as Mar-a-Lago.
Total cases are interesting but largely irrelevant without context. And context is anathema to most journalists and media outlets, who prefer the opposite approach, with out-of-context snippets and soundbites, as they did last week with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnaney.
Context includes what defines a positive COVID test. Is it an actual positive antigen test result or a presumed positive case? Some counties in Texas were classifying a neighbor or co-worker of a test-positive case, suffering from a cough or sore throat, as having COVID, even without an actual test.
This could result in 10 to 20 additional reported positive cases based on only one actual case. Antibody test-positive individuals, having previous, but not current active infections, are also positive cases. That would be like classifying retired military members as active duty.
Context also includes asking whether these individuals are symptomatic or not. We never test asymptomatic individuals or contacts of those with the seasonal flu. In fact, most with the flu treat it symptomatically until they get better, and do not get tested unless they are sick enough to journey to the hospital. Asymptomatic individuals exposed to someone with the flu certainly don’t get tested. Why then is there such a push for COVID testing? Unless the goal is inflated numbers to fuel a media narrative and damage President Trump.
Congressional candidate Jessi Melton tweeted about a friend of hers who went to a lab for a COVID test but couldn’t wait for the test and left, receiving a call later telling her she tested positive. Numerous labs in Florida are only reporting positive test results, not the negatives, giving the impression that everyone in the state is infected with the Wuhan virus.
Not coincidentally, the Republican convention is planned for Jacksonville, Florida next month. If the Florida bureaucracy reports only positive cases and the media run with it, the media narrative will be that Florida is overwhelmed with the virus and the convention needs to be cancelled. And that it is unsafe for Dementia Joe to hold a rally or debate his electoral opponent.
If the convention was planned for Alabama, any bets that we would see the same thing occurring there? Is any of this about the virus or is it all about the November election?
Not only are case numbers inflated but also deaths. Anyone testing positive at the time of death is counted as a COVID death, from alcohol poisoning or a shooting, to someone in hospice with weeks to live, dying from their underlying condition, but testing positive. George Floyd is likely somewhere in the COVID death count as he tested positive at autopsy.
CDC labs were contaminated, leading to false positives and bogus test results. Tests in Tanzania on a goat and paw paw fruit returned positive results. It should be no surprise that the White House told hospitals to bypass the CDC on COVID data and send results directly to the Department of Health and Human Services, reducing the chance of data manipulation.
How refreshing, although unrealistic, if the media reported actual and relevant numbers around the Chinese coronavirus. Alas, that won’t happen as big media’s goal is to create the news rather than report it. As New York Times editor Bari Weiss wrote in her recent resignation letter, “I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative.”
The predetermined narrative is Orange Man Bad. Trump as president is an aberration, a fluke, something that must never happen again. Remember when David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s campaign manager tweeted, “It is not enough to simply beat Trump. He must be destroyed thoroughly. His kind must not rise again.”
The media is molding news and history to their predetermined narrative that Trump must lose reelection on Nov. 3, regardless of the carnage to our economy, culture, and way of life in the process.
If the media had any desire to report honestly, they would have to go against Bari Weiss’s Rule Two, “Never risk commissioning a story that goes against the narrative.” The narrative is to destroy Trump at all costs, regardless of side effects. In the medical world, this would be malpractice.
Why don’t the media report the case fatality rate (CFR), the number of confirmed deaths divided by the total number of confirmed cases?
The U.S. sits at 3.8 percent, below the world average at 4.3 percent and the EU’s at 10.3 percent. Countries praised by the American left are faring worse – France at 17.3 percent, the U.K. at 15.4 percent, and the Netherlands at 11.9 percent.
Yet the media report how Trump is botching our COVID response. The Washington Post, ignoring reality, claims, “Trump’s performance on COVID-19 looks especially bad compared with the rest of the world.” The CFR says otherwise. Ignorance or media malpractice?
As the enigmatic Q recently asked, what would be the primary purpose of inflating COVID numbers? Who benefits? This is about the election, not the virus. The swamp runs deep, the news is fake, and the war is real.
The media has chosen sides in this war and abdicated any pretense of objective journalism. Elections have consequences and Nov. 3 will be a pivotal day for the future of America.
Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., is a Denver-based physician and freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in American Thinker, Daily Caller, Rasmussen Reports, and other publications.