Bernie’s Q&A: Coronavirus briefings, blame, and spin (4/10) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)
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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):
Mr. G, It appears to me that The Whitehouse Press briefings are mostly attended by reporters that do not have the years and quality of experience to be asking the POTUS & Task Force serious thoughtful and exploratory questions that will provide informative responses that the American people need to make decisions. Who is really to blame here for these childish, stupid and “WGAS” questions; the educators or the media executives? It’s such a disservice at this crucial time. -- ScottyG
Actually, Scotty, I think some of the reporters are quite good. The problem is that some are just there to stir things up. If a reporter asks a tough question that puts the president on the spot -- I have no problem with that. In fact, I think the president has called several questions "nasty" when they weren't out of bounds at all. It's just that an honest answer may have made the president look bad. That, my friend, is on the president -- not the journalist. But I'm with you to this extent: If the reporter asks a foolish question hoping for an angry response that will get picked up and replayed by other news organizations ... that is a disservice.
Bernie, can we (the USA and the world) all agree that everyone missed on the coronavirus pandemic? No nation, Democrat, Republican, committee, hospital, doctor, scientist, expert, pundit, commentator, journalist, or whoever predicted this would happen and none of them thought it was necessary to prepare for it either (yes, I am sure you can go through archives and find some people who may have mentioned some pandemic scenario, but you get my point, it wasn't a focus of world and national discussion). No one predicted it or tried to sound the alarm bells in all of 2019, January of 2020, February of 2020, and most people still have no idea how rough this will be or what will happen next. Can we (all of the aforementioned parties) also agree to stop wasting time pointing fingers on what could or could not have been done to prevent this situation and unite around fixing this really big a** problem? Or is all of this too much to ask of everyone (aka all aforementioned parties) right now? Our finger pointing and politicking keeps us, "stuck on stupid." -- Joe M.
Let me point out Joe, that in 2015 in a TED discussion, Bill Gates said something like this could happen. No, he didn't have this particular virus in mind, but he made the point that a virus could hit us and cause many deaths. Did we take his warning seriously? No.
I'd also agree with you that finger pointing at this point doesn't help deal with the problem. A lot of it is just plain old fashioned politics. If Democrats can blame President Trump, they figure it could help them in November. That said ...
If the president wants to blame the previous administration for leaving "the shelves empty" and therefore leave us unprepared to deal with the pandemic, let me pose this question: He's been in office for 3 years ... why didn't he stock the shelves when he noticed they were empty 3 long years ago? If he's going to point fingers then I think it's legitimatize to point a finger right back at him.
There's more blame to go around: City officials in New York early on encouraged people to go out and mingle. They didn't see what was coming -- and maybe they should have been more cautious.
And along those same lines, the president as late as March 9 suggested the virus was no worse than the seasonal flu.
So you're right, that almost everyone missed the boat, they didn't see this coming (again, Bill Gates saw something like it coming). But the more finger pointing we get now the more it will look like politics as usual.
I received a shocking call the other day. From a friend who is a long term Democratic donor who called to asked what I thought about Laura Ingraham's show on Fox. When I told him I don't watch much commentary TV I could hear his jaw drop. He went on to state that if hydroxychloroquine proves to be the miracle drug that she is talking about, she should get the medal of Freedom. I'm sure he heard my jaw drop. He stated that she was the one to break the story and as I watched her program the last couple of nights she had several doctors with case studies. I'm not sure if she's the story breaker on this or not and wondered if you had followed this enough to have an opinion. It's the first time in 40 years I ever heard my friend say one nice thing about a conservative, including me. -- Tim H.
The reason Laura Ingraham and other conservatives are pushing hydroxycloroquine as a miracle drug is because Donald Trump is pushing it as something like that. This is a good example of how corrupt TV commentary has become. In any event, I did some research and got this from a journalist who said the following: "Ingraham by no means broke this story, but she has pushed it hard because Trump stated early optimism in the drug (some initial tests proved promising). Continued testing and physician-prescribed usage seems to suggest that it can indeed reduce the severity of coronavirus symptoms in some people (though not prevent people from getting it). That's a good thing, of course, though I don't think any serious people in the medical community are touting it as a 'miracle drug.' Dr. Fauci's certainly not putting a huge amount of stock in it."
Hi Bernie...I hope you are well. As for Biden....One hundred years ago a Rep ((Harding) ran a 'front porch' campaign for the presidency. He won, by the way. Now, one hundred years later, Biden has moved it into the basement. And this is progress????.....What's that saying...."Give me that old time religion"....Just sayin'. Stay safe, and be well.... -- Andrew M.
Good point, Andrew. We've gone from that front porch you mentioned to Biden's rec room basement. We've come a long way, haven't we? You stay safe too, Andrew. No more clubbing til 5am. At least not until this is behind us.
Good morning Bernie. I just finished listening to your Off the Cuff comments and first off want thank your honest and straight forward reporting style. I've followed your work for years, and although I haven't always agreed with everything you write, I do find myself better informed and taken away something to think about. The current state of the journalistic world has been of grave concern to me many years now. Without going into detail nitpicking, what I feel the shortcomings are, that would take a dissertation I'm in no way prepared to submit, let's suffice to say I'm unhappy with both sides of the conversation. I would like to hear your thoughts on the possibility of mainstream journalism returning to a more honest and responsible baseline. I keep waiting for the population to wake up and realize how far off the rails things have gone and demand a return to quality information. Or am I just whistling in the dark? Gleefully Isolated in Kansas -- Matthew W.
First, thanks Matthew for the kind words. Now to the dark side. You're right, too much journalism is indeed "off the rails." It's beyond bias. It's corruption. Can it come back and once again be what journalism is supposed to be? Theoretically it can. But in reality ... I'm not so sure. As I've said before, cable TV news, where hardcore news junkies get their information, is not a journalism model. It's a business model. Cable news outlets are giving the customer what the customer wants, which is: validate my views; tell me I'm right to hold those views; don't confront my biases; don't challenge me to think differently than I do. The un-indicted co-conspirators in all of this are the consumers of news. As long as they continue to watch and support corrupt news organizations ... that's what they'll continue to get.
There seems to be a messaging effort underway by pro-Trump media people (not so much Trump himself) to try and marginalize the number of deaths being caused by the coronavirus. On Wednesday, Bill O'Reilly said that "many people who are dying, both here and around the world, were on their last legs anyway.”
Others are saying that if someone infected with the coronavirus dies, COVID-19 should NOT be cited as the cause of their death...IF that person had underlying conditions. For example, they're saying that if someone with a heart condition becomes infected with the coronavirus, and their body is weakened/stressed to the point that they have a heart attack and die, that person's death should NOT be added to the national tally of COVID-19 deaths (because it was technically the heart attack that killed him)
This strikes me as ridiculous, being that such people would certainly still be alive, had it not been for the coronavirus. Your thoughts? -- Ben G.
My thoughts are pretty much the same as yours, Ben. You want to know how polarized we've become in this country: We're even using a killer virus to make political points. I'm beyond disgusted.
Bernie, I try to take people seriously who seek power. The Democrats in my view have sent clear signals how they feel about income and wealth inequality. One way to achieve greater equality in those spheres is to impose confiscatory taxes. Another way is to simply destroy wealth. The latter is not worrisome to those seeking to level the playing field, especially if they believe that no societal harm would ensue by their simply printing and distributing more money ( and of course their overall belief that their compassion and wisdom will allow them to achieve their objectives without long term negative unintended consequences). This is one of the underpinning foundations of leftist economists pushing MMT (modern monetary theory). Am I off my rocker or should we be worried about whether those who want to keep the economy closed have a motive beyond just flattening the curve? -- Mike F.
You're not off your rocker, Mike. If the left ever takes control of our government -- not liberals, but progressive leftists, Bernie Sanders types -- it's game over. They will destroy the economy ... all in the name of doing good. As for their motive: They tell us they want everyone to have a good life ... so far so good. But to achieve that they have to confiscate money from one group and give it to another. But corporations and the super rich don't have nearly enough money to fund what these leftists want. Earlier I said, IF they get into power. My fear is that WHEN they take over is more like it.
(Editor's note: the below question was shortened due to length):
My wife leans left. I lean right (libertarian). We argue about is media bias. She claims "it's the money" that causes reporters and commentators to present issues the way that they do. She also correctly points out that FOX News and talk radio are "disgustingly biased toward the right side of the political isle."
My response: FOX News and talk radio DO skew to the right, but NOBODY except the partisans would've ever paid attention to Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and others if news icons like Dan Rather had been fair and honest in their reporting in the first place! FOX News wouldn't even exist (nor conservative talk radio, nor would your book "Bias") had the MSM NOT been so biased.
I tell her the conservative media (and Trump too) are not the problem, but rather SYMPTOMS of a bigger problem. They are a response to the negative and misrepresented portrayals of conservatives and their ideas.
My wife says that "saying the other side started it is a childish argument." Well, maybe...maybe not. I've often heard left wingers say that the civil rights movement (and the Black Power movement, and the Weather Underground et al) began because conservatives "started it" by denying marginalized groups their civil rights.
In your opinion, which is it? Are Trump and the conservative media a legit response to all the bullying and dishonesty, or are they an overreaction using a grade school excuse of "they started it" simply to justify themselves? -- "THEY Started It!" and Happy Passover Regards, From The Emperor
Whoever started it, it's become a journalistic mess. It's true that Roger Ailes created Fox as a way to counter liberal media. But then Fox -- the channel's opinion shows -- became knee jerk supporters of the president ... just as CNN and MSNBC are knee jerk enemies of the president. I loathe both sides. Let's say liberals in the media did "start it." Are Hannity and Ingraham the response we really want? I sure as hell don't. Say hi to your wife for me. Does she have a title t0o, like Mrs. Emperor?
Do you remember the TV show from the 50s, Who Do You Trust? Johnny Carson was the host for about five years. The question is very apropos today where we get inconsistent answers from so-called experts. The UN and its "scientists" have lied about global warming. The media runs stories without any fact checking, rarely admits its errors and then proceeds to do it again the next day. And of course the President ( and various other pols) makes statements that are withdrawn or contradicted. So, Bernie, in 2020, who do you trust? -- Mike
Excellent question, Mike. I check out several sources ... but don't take any of them (anymore) at face value. That's a shame, really, because we should trust the media and the experts. But both have gotten things so wrong for so long that you'd be foolish to automatically believe what they tell us. Too often, both journalists and even scientific experts have a political ax to grind. So in 2020, who do I trust? I trust my family and my friends. But in the worlds of journalism and politics and (sadly) even science: I'm with Reagan. Trust but verify. By the way, I was in the audience for one of the Who Do You Trust shows way back when.
Hi Bernie, I've been seeing advertising from The Epoch Times. They seem to be conservative and anti-communist but they've been banned by FaceBook. They support Trump. Do you have any insight on them? -- Paul M.
I don't follow Epoch Times, Paul, but I did find this on Wikipedia: "The group's news sites and YouTube channels have spread conspiracy theories such as QAnon and anti-vaccination propaganda.
Beyond that, I don't know enough to comment.
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