10/22/14

Ebola is way out of my area of expertise. I hope it remains so! The media, on the other hand, well that is right in my bailiwick and my derision and low esteem for it is well established.

I have to say that in the matter of Ebola, the media in this country has reached a new and deep low—scaremongering, panic generating, all-over hysteria and viciousness at that. Really disgusting.

Let’s just get the facts here:

  • Ebola is a disease that has existed and has been known for about 40 years.
  • Outbreaks of Ebola have been known to happen every few years in Africa, mostly central Africa.
  • The current outbreak started about 6 months ago and is by far the most serious than ever before, with the number of people afflicted and dead far exceeding any prior outbreak by multiples.
  • While relatively deadly, about 50% of those affected do survive, it is not very contagious. Indeed much less contagious than many other diseases that we live with all the time.
  • In the U.S. to-date there was ONE, I repeat ONE person who died from Ebola and two who were made ill by exposure to him. There are currently two more patients who were brought in from Africa and three who got it in Africa and survived it after they were brought to the U.S.

So, these are the facts. Why in the world does that justify a wall-to-wall carpet bombing coverage on ALL news media outlets? For the last week or so, we have been subjected to Ebola coverage/hysteria on about 80% of the entire news broadcasts on all TV outlets, and most of the print media headlines deal with Ebola.

Special derision goes to the usual suspects—CNN who just about abandoned any other news topic and are subjecting us to repeated reports taking 90% of their time about very little news relating to Ebola and mostly speculating and blaming people for no good reason. Unusually I will add Bill O’Reilly who is always pompous, arrogant, and many times ignorant too, but I have never seen him as vicious as he is now in calling for the termination of Dr. Tom Frieden, the head of the CDC, probably mostly because he refused to come and be interviewed by the great, pompous, arrogant O’Reilly.

Megan Kelly of Fox who I had a lot of respect for lost significant points for the way she handled herself in the interview with Dr. Frieden (he did agree to come on her show, which must have made O’Reilly even more mad). I have to admit that even media outlets and pundits that I usually have respect for have lost their bearings on this one. It feels like the herd instinct and that not ONE person has the courage to stand up to it.

ENOUGH of this scaremongering and provincial attitude born out of ignorance and small mindedness.

  • 100 people a day, on average, die in the U.S. from motor vehicle accidents. EVERY DAY.
  • 100 people a day, on average, die in the U.S. from the common flu. EVERY DAY.
  • About 2,000 die EVERY DAY from heart attacks and other related heart diseases.
  • Aids killed about 36 MILLION people over the last 30 years or so around the world.

Do I need to go on?

While the current Ebola outbreak started about 5 months ago in the west part of Africa where about 4,000 people died, we hardly heard about it. But when ONE person dies on U.S. soil all hell breaks loose?

The calls for travel ban are so primitive and parochial that it is simply shocking. What about the “shining city on the hill” concept? What about the U.S. leading the world and being an example, a beacon of freedom and democracy? It is all to be abandoned for one dead man and two who got infected by him? TWO?

Let’s be clear about it—there are VERY, I repeat VERY likely to be more Ebola patients in the U.S. If this outbreak in the USA costs the lives of 50 people, I will be shocked and surprised. But five? Maybe.

Obviously this is a horrendous catastrophe for those people and their families. The heart goes out to them but in the grand scheme of things, there are so many worse things that occur in our world and our country every day that we need to keep it in prospective. Banning travel from the effected countries by the U.S. could have far-reaching consequences of destabilization, economic devastation, and lost democracy that go far beyond the risk of a few more sick people arriving in the U.S.

I note that in Europe where there were a similar number of cases to the U.S., the attitude is much more sanguine about it and the EU just declared clearly—no travel ban.

Let’s also be clear about this—mistakes were made. They are very well known and I am not going to repeat them here. What is surprising is the fact that anyone expected that mistakes will not be made. We are all human and we all make mistakes. There will be more mistakes and those will cost human lives. When you deal with a deadly disease, when you are a doctor whose job is to save lives, your mistakes cost lives. It is part of reality.

Surprisingly enough for a change, I think that President Obama has handled this crisis rather well. He was out there well ahead of everyone else, sending troops and help to West Africa. He discussed it in public in reasonable tones without trying to underdo or overdo the danger and recently, under the pressure of the media and herd mentality, he even canceled a fund raiser! That is really serious, as he NEVER canceled one of those before for ANYTHING! I do not think that there is anything else that he could have done.

Obama is the luckiest politician in the USA, if not in the world (as I dubbed the president a long time ago), a politician that throughout his meteoric rise and career was carried by the media as if he was an angel or the messiah. How ironic will it be if he will lose his last election campaign (indirect one) by the hype and irresponsibility of the same media that brought him, irresponsibly to power, and for the one, ONE, thing that he may have actually executed on quite well? Justice?