Narrative Painting by Numbers

In this pandemic, we have multiple and daily reminders about why the corporate-leftist media ranks the lowest in the public’s esteem and confidence—hubris, ignorance, irresponsibility, duplicity, fearmongering, and an abject lack of self-awareness are but a few.

For the press, this abysmal reality has been quantified statistically by a recent Gallup poll, wherein “only the news media received a negative approval rating” with 44 percent. (Quite rightly, hospitals and health care workers received the highest approval at 88 percent.)

While one suspects this news surprised many in the elitist media, you wouldn’t know it from the latest manifestation of their patent disdain for the vast majority of Americans, 3,283,000 of whom were forced to file for unemployment last week due to the COVID-19 virus and the unprecedented public health measures taken to combat it.

Looking for more information about this sort of tragedy in the annals of American employment—the previously reported record number had been 695,000 in 1982 during “Stagflation”—I clicked on a CNBC report. After reading it, I realized there was a critical omission of important information.

Curious, I checked other outlets, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC News, and MarketWatch. These, too, had the same omission of critical information.

The omitted critical information is the number of U.S. COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Only Yahoo! Finance edged toward providing this information but stopped short at the end of the report: “There are currently more than 487,600 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide and 22,029 confirmed deaths as of Thursday morning, according to Johns Hopkins.”

Though this report and others did provide a link to stories with U.S. numbers of cases and deaths, it omitted that information from its own reporting, as do the other media reports. In fact, by citing the global COVID-19 numbers because they are higher, they actually buttressed my suspicions.

Why didn’t these reports include the numbers of U.S. COVID-19 cases and deaths?

True, there may well be media reports that do include U.S. cases and deaths. But why didn’t these and so many others? After all, the COVID-19 virus (and China’s Communist Party) are the reason more than 3 million Americans lost their jobs last week. And at no point throughout their febrile fearmongering has the elitist media been shy about citing these U.S. figures and their most dire projections and consequences regarding them.

Certainly, these stories have no trouble prognosticating your impending abysmal financial straits, noting how the full extent of the layoffs was likely “understated” and the consensus is that unemployment will skyrocket. As MarketWatch reports, “Some analysts say the unemployment rate could climb to 20% or higher if the worst-case scenario comes to pass and the economy is shut down for months. Those are 1930s Great Depression level numbers.”

The above reports and others in that vein constitute a disturbing pattern and, given Gallup’s findings, the American public knows why we’re seeing it: the media thinks you’re stupid and dangerous.

Yes, the same people who want to stop airing President Trump’s pandemic press conferences because, unfiltered by the media, his popularity is soaring, now want to make sure you can’t make your own assessment about whether the public health measures implemented to combat the Wuhan virus are proportionate to the crisis or an overreaction.

In sum, they don’t want to risk you deciding the cure is worse than the disease.

Evidently, the elitist media—and all those who believe nothing short of a lengthy, indefinite national lockdown of 331 million people is the only solution to controlling and curtailing the pandemic—want to prevent any economic facts on the ground from being considered when assessing the now dual crises affecting our lives and livelihoods. This is the height of feckless hubris.

As I noted earlier last week, what policymakers need is data—on both COVID-19 and the economy—to make informed decisions regarding this and, sadly, future pandemics:

Because of the unknown in this pandemic, policymakers have every incentive to overreact, for they are the ones with the most to gain and least to lose by overreacting. The issue, then, is when the American public—that is losing everything with every passing day—determines there has been an overreaction.

By no later than early April, it would be wise for policymakers to articulate a comprehensive, proportionate, fact-based plan for any public health measures needing to be continued, curbed, or canceled. Their patience as strained as their family budgets, the American people deserve it; and will settle for no less.

The collection of requisite data is of the utmost importance to the functioning of our federal system, whose flexibility allows the most immediately responsive and effective public health measures to be determined and implemented. Local, state, and federal efforts, individually and collectively, allow for diverse populations, especially those most at risk, to be treated with the needed health measures, which the science so far has shown may not need to be the same across the board.

Consequently, if the accumulating data allows, our federal system—and, yes, our freedom—should begin mitigating the devastation both of the pandemic and the pending recession.

In our constitutional republic, be it in good times or in a crisis, it is imperative for public policymakers to adopt sound measures based upon facts and effectively communicate them to the citizenry in order to seek and garner their consent. If our policymakers fail to do this, the public will reject continuing public health measures, such as lock-downs, or, alternatively, they may refuse to return to their daily lives.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon those who want a “one-size-fits-all-331-million-people” indefinite national lock-down—regardless of the ensuing loss of lives, livelihoods, and other human suffering the concomitant depression will cause—publicly to state what data will ever allow for the first steps to a return to normality in people’s personal lives and professions.

While the elitist media—who are still employed and being paid for their pontifications—won’t provide America’s COVID-19 figures in their unemployment reports because they think we are dangerously ignorant rubes, trust in your own ability to make up your mind. I submit the following as of the morning of March 27, 2020*:

3,283,000 unemployed last week

85,498 U.S. cases of COVID-19

1,311 U.S. deaths from COVIDd-19

1.5 percent U.S. mortality rate from COVID-19

Now, as you contemplate these statistics, put yourself in the position of a responsible public policymaker, wrestling with how to protect lives and livelihoods from the ravages of a pandemic and pending depression.

Suddenly, on the same day you read their report about record weekly unemployment numbers, you are alerted to a new headline from the same CNBC: “The Coronavirus May Be Deadlier Than the 1918 Flu: Here’s How It Stacks up to Other Pandemics.”

As a public policymaker you’ve made your first sound decision: Ignore the fear-mongering media.

*Note: In my own hard-hit state of Michigan, the grim number of COVID-19 cases stood at 2,856, deaths at 60, and the mortality rate was 2.1 percent, which was higher than the national average.

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.

Photo: Peter Zelei Images/Getty Images

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