• August 2, 2021

Exclusive: Media responsibility in the spotlight

 Exclusive: Media responsibility in the spotlight


Paul Brandus/USA Today:

COVID is back and so are death panels. But this time they’re real and live on Fox News.

Doctors are bound by the Hippocratic Oath, which famously requires them to ‘do no harm.’ Sadly, politicians and TV personalities have no such creed.

And this time, there’s actually some truth to the phrase. Now the death panels consist of pinhead Republican politicians, TV blowhards and social media disinformation peddlers who talk down COVID-19 vaccines for political reasons. They encourage fellow Republicans not to get vaxxed – and place them at greater risk of death.

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And there’s more to that thread.

David Atkins/Washington monthly:

DeSantis Didn’t Win the Pandemic, After All

How the Florida governor took a premature victory lap—and how traditional media helped him.

I’ve argued here before that failures of framing in the traditional media are now far less important than the disinformation being peddled on social media. The fact that the top posts on Facebook are consistently from right-wing disinformation channels matters a great deal more to public policy than whether Politico says something dumb and irresponsible. Biden reiterated the point yesterday, much to the amusing consternation of the rightwing disinformation racket itself and its enablers at Facebook.

But traditional media does still set narratives among more informed members of the electorate. How many times do reporters need to be played for fools by too-good-to-be-true rightwing narratives before a greater degree of skepticism starts to set in?

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Reed Abelson/NY Times:

Social isolation in the U.S. rose even as the Covid crisis began to subside, new research shows.

Many Americans felt socially isolated during the pandemic, cut off from friends and family as they hunkered down and kept their distance to try to protect themselves from infection.

But new research released Thursday suggests many people’s sense of isolation increased even as the public health crisis in the United States began to abate, with communities opening up and the economy improving.

While the level of social isolation declined during the spring of the pandemic after the initial shock of the crisis subsided, it then increased sharply over the summer months last year, according to researchers at Harvard, Northeastern, Northwestern and Rutgers universities, before leveling off during the fall.

People began to feel less disconnected last December through April of this year, but the levels of social isolation measured by the researchers increased again this June.

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Nicholas Grossman/twitter:

Hey everyone having politicized arguments about vaccine hesitancy/refusal:
Are you sure you’re talking about the same people? Let me explain.
Broadly three categories not getting shots:

1) Ideological antivaxxers. Includes many lefty woo woo “all natural” types.

2) Hesitant. For a variety of reasons, such as lazy and don’t think it matters that much (mostly young healthy people), generally cautious, poorly informed, or distrusting of govt and other public authorities (many poor people and POC fit here).
These are the gettable ones.

3) Partisans and culture warriors
For them, politics is a big factor.

Roxane Gay/NY Times:

Why People Are So Awful Online

One person makes a statement. Others take issue with some aspect of that statement. Or they make note of every circumstance the original statement did not account for. Or they misrepresent the original statement and extrapolate it to a broader issue in which they are deeply invested. Or they take a singular instance of something and conflate it with a massive cultural trend. Or they bring up something ridiculous that someone said more than a decade ago as confirmation of … who knows?

Or someone popular gets too close to the sun and suddenly can do nothing right. “Likes” are analyzed obsessively, as if clicking a button on social media is representative of an entire ideology. If a mistake is made, it becomes immediate proof of being beyond redemption. Or, if the person is held mildly accountable for a mistake, a chorus rends her or his garments in distress, decrying the inhumanity of “cancel culture.”

Will Bunch/philly.com:

52 years after the moon landing, Republicans reject science and America is unraveling

A poll on the 52nd anniversary of the moon landing shows a majority of Republicans now reject science, sparking a COVID-19 comeback.

“We probably would still have polio in this country if we had the kind of false information that’s being spread now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday. He’d been asked about the promotion of vaccine refusal, laced with medical falsehoods, on right-wing outlets like Fox News that has been embraced by GOP leaders like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a leading 2024 White House contender. DeSantis’ political shop has even been selling T-shirts that proclaim, “DON’T FAUCI MY FLORIDA” — even as 20% of the nation’s new COVID-19 cases are coming from the Sunshine State.

As Cronkite might say if he were still with us, “Woo boy” — but with exasperation, not delight.

EJ Dionne/WaPo:

Joe Biden and the social democratic moment

Sweeping change should not come as a surprise given the traumas the world has confronted since 2016. The rise of right-wing authoritarian parties, and especially of Donald Trump, brought on a crisis of democracy. Political systems had barely absorbed that shock when the covid-19 outbreak required sudden, large-scale government action to combat the coronavirus’s spread and prevent economic collapse.

By placing a premium on competent public administration and traditional forms of expertise, the pandemic undermined upstart ultranationalist parties before they had a chance to consolidate their gains. Voters faced with life-or-death questions have been reluctant to entrust their fate to demagogues more skilled at stoking resentments than solving problems.

New entry in the “I wish I had known” series, this from NY Times:

In Undervaccinated Arkansas, Covid Upends Life All Over Again

He said he never got vaccinated because he figured a mask would suffice. In the past 21 years, he has had the flu once.

“Once I started feeling better,” Mr. Deutscher said, “I got on the phone and I just started calling everybody to tell them to go get that vaccine.” He did not even wait to be discharged.

The coronavirus “is no joke,” he told his friends. Three of them got a shot.

Mr. Deutscher went home on July 9, bringing a song for one of his five grandchildren that he had written in his hospital bed. His theme was the value of life.





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