Beware Media Hysteria & Manipulation

It’s Tuesday! Time to take out the trash again. LOL

The coronavirus mess has done a lot to highlight media sensationalism and manipulation IF you’re paying attention and looking for facts. I’ve gone over the statistics in recent blog posts. This virus should be taken seriously. Sheltering in place and social distancing is a good idea. Is it the end of the world though? No.

If you paid attention to most media outlets, either we’re all going to die and it’s going to be worse than the Spanish Flu of 1918, OR we should all go out and lick shopping carts because it’s a hoax.

Ironic that the last proponent of “it’s all a fraud” that I heard was Rand Paul. He was on the radio a little under a week ago howling that it was all just an attack on civil liberties. No word on if he’s changed his tune since coming down with the virus. O_o

On the hysteria side, the best example I’ve seen was media sources quoting Emily Landon, MD, Executive Director Infection Prevention and Control, University of Chicago Medical Center in saying this was the Spanish Flu of 1918 all over again.

She (and the media quoting her) completely neglect to mention that the Spanish Flu killed somewhere between 17 and 50 million people. Some say as many as 100 million. She also fails to mention that the Spanish Flu was much more dangerous to younger people with stronger immune systems than COVID-19 is. There were also other secondary factors like areas still physically recovering from World War 1 getting hit extra hard.

As of today, we have 18,605 total deaths worldwide, 2091 just today. That’s enough to merit taking this seriously. It’s a FAR cry from 50 million people in a year though.

Here’s the thing with the shelter in place and other measures we’re all being advised to follow: If they work properly, it’s going to look like they were never needed, or at least were a big overreaction.

Stay calm, realize this will pass, and take anything the media EVER tells you with a grain of salt. Be skeptical. The media thrives on creating fear and anger.

So, let’s look at some of their more common tricks:

“Expert” Opinions:

The two examples above illustrate that the media will ALWAYS be able to find an “expert” to back up whatever opinion they have. Rand Paul and Emily Langston are both doctors, but have COMPLETELY opposite views on this mess. Why? Personal motivations.

Rand Paul was raised by his father to be a huge civil liberties guy. Normally we could use more of them too. Sometimes, common sense has to balance civil liberties with social good.

Emily Langston runs the Infectious Disease Center at the University of Chicago. A) the more noise she makes about this, the more money her center will get from the government and private donors. B) Given her role, she probably sees every new outbreak in terms of an absolute worst case scenario.

“Experts” almost always run off of motivated self interest before anything else. Another example from this pandemic is that it’s being reported that the CDC was actually downplaying how dangerous this outbreak was at the beginning. They supposedly got blindsided by it and didn’t want to look ignorant. I’ve only heard a few unconfirmed reports here, but if true it explains where the White House and others were getting bad info from.

Just hit a search engine if you want to see how many times the CDC has dropped the ball before. Anybody recall they were all for e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative to smoking when that first started?

Partial Truths:

Keep in mind that no matter how bad any media outlet spins a story, there’s always going to be just enough truth to avoid having to admit they bald faced lied. What do I mean?

OK, let’s say there’s a news story about some EVIL person swooping into the local store and buying up their entire inventory of toilet paper. The story takes on a whole different light if that “entire inventory” was the last package they had, doesn’t it? Technically they reported accurately BUT would they have given a true picture in that scenario? I’ve seen the media go this far in other cases to create ratings. I always ask what I’m NOT being told anymore.

Half Quotes:

Another favorite tactic of the media. Politicians on both sides either benefit or suffer from the tactic’s use. It all depends on who is doing the reporting on whom. Reagan used to get misquoted by the media all the time regarding his proposed shutting down the Department of Education. They’d report that he wanted children to suffer. They ignored that what he actually proposed was sending the funding directly to the states instead, believing people closer to the issues knew better how to spend the money than bureaucrats in Washington DC.

Leaving Out Key Facts:

There’s no test kits and medical supplies!!! How often have you heard THAT exaggeration in the news? Well, they’re ALL manufactured in CHINA, right down to every antibiotic that’s sold in the US. Anybody see a problem here? Anybody hear that fact reported, or is it all blaming the government and evil corporations?

Manipulative and Misleading Language:

I’ll finish this up with this one last major tactic. The media, politicians, corporations and PR firms, and some of the more manipulative individuals out there all pull this trick. Manipulative language is everywhere

One story on MSN’s home page talked about how the number of deaths from COVID-19 *SOARED* in the US. It sounds so dramatic doesn’t it? Virus spreading everywhere, no one is safe! If you look at the numbers though, we’re at 600 deaths nationwide. In a population of 330 million, that’s a pretty damned small number.

Again, let’s follow the advice out there and keep that number small. Be kind to your fellow bloggers and human beings too. Even when you know the facts, this is still a kind of scary situation.

BOTTOM LINE:

Be skeptical of anything the media tells you. Displaying personal bias and social engineering are seen as good things in the media today. Strong negative emotions = strong ratings also. No single source is going to get it all correct. It’s not enough to go to a source with a similar outlook also. If you like CNN, you’re only going to get the same info at MSNBC. You have to go to TownHall.com or Fox. The same is true of you flip the coin. Fox and talk radio slant the truth also. I catch them regularly. You have to look at and fact check both sides to find the more complete truth in the middle.

And for the love of humanity, DO NOT get your news from late night comedians or social media! Talk about fountains of misinformation and hysteria…

14 thoughts on “Beware Media Hysteria & Manipulation

  1. Re-Farmer

    Manipulative language is a big one. I’ve learned, long ago, to always be suspicious when a story conspicuously uses percentages instead of numbers. I recently caught a Canadian news story screaming about how our death rate increased by more than 50% in one day. !!!!!!1!!1

    It took some delving into the article to find the numbers that percentage represented. It went from 13 to 19. We’re still at 19.

    Now, how many people do more than scan the first couple of paragraphs of an article these days? If even that much, anymore?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. Re-Farmer

        Too true.

        What really disturbs me is the effect this is having on friends and family members who are 1) in at risk categories due to pre-existing conditions and 2) struggle with mental health issues, such as depression, PTSD, etc. The media induced panic is causing incredible amounts of distress with their propaganda, and it angers me when I see them suffer even more, because of it. They have reason to be more concerned than others, but the state of anxiety they are in should not be this extreme. The misinformation and fearmongering is more likely to kill them through stress and anxiety than their getting the Wu Flu at all.

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
        1. The Hinoeuma

          And, that is by design… Remember? They (TPTB) think the planet is over populated with “useless eaters”. Their attitude is, most should die to save the planet…yet, they themselves are not the problem. The population numbers are all wrong. The UN is lying, even though these two won’t come out and say that, directly:

          Liked by 2 people

          Reply
          1. Re-Farmer

            Yup. And they’re more than happy that old (typically conservative) people are the ones that are dying, along with the “useless eaters.”

            Ironically, people with physical disabilities and mental health challenges are pressured to vote for socialist parties (like the NDP, here in Canada) because they are the more “compassionate” ones that will take care of them. So compassionate, they are pushing for euthanasia under the guise of “death with dignity” of people not only with terminal illnesses, but people with physical disabilities and mental health problems!

            Liked by 1 person

            Reply
  2. bigskybuckeye

    Thankfully, science and health care are much more knowledgeable now as opposed to 1918. I was appalled when a commentator (will leave him unmentioned) stated in effect that older people are expendable. Oh my!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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