Ebola, a nasty virus, is now being used by Fox “News,” a less-nasty virus, to do what it is that Fox usually does: create fear and infect gullible minds.
Bill O’Reilly started his Talking Points segment last night with this:
The Ebola situation gets even worse.
He went on to talk about the “growing Ebola chaos in the U.S.A.”
As Media Matters reported, O’Reilly a few days ago attacked Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, for being a “chief propagandist,” saying he should resign for not doing what Dr. O’Reilly thinks he should have done.
We all know that Fox exists in order to tear down Democrats and promote Republicans. One way it tears down Democrats is by undermining trust in our governing institutions, since Democrats generally favor government and Republicans make a political living off attacking it. Dr. Frieden just happens to be Fox’s target at the moment.
The morning before O’Reilly talked about Frieden being a propagandist, Laura Ingraham had already beat him to it. On IQ-hating Fox and Friends, she shamefully said that Dr. Frieden “is on the verge of becoming the Baghdad Bob of the health care community.” Frieden’s sin, say Fox’s many preachers, is that he trying to sugar-coat what is going on and that the government is not only incompetent, but hiding from the public essential information about Ebola.
But there is one member of the Fox on-air clergy who, time and again, refuses to cast the first stone in situations like this. His name is Shepard Smith and here was his sermon yesterday:
Of course Shep couldn’t say it, but we all know that his message was mostly for his fellow Foxers, who have known little shame in their coverage of Ebola.
But stirring up irrational fear and institutional distrust over Ebola isn’t just confined to Fox. CNN has done it and so has MSNBC, most recently this morning. On Morning Joe—where Joe Scarborough has been mucking up the issue with irresponsible speculation—I heard Nicolle Wallace, former Bushie, ask with utter seriousness that since medical disaster movies like “Outbreak” were made 20 years ago,
Why couldn’t the medical community have had a plan on the shelf for 20 years?
Fortunately, a guest on the show, Dr. Emily Senay, was there to bring a little sanity to the discussion by essentially saying people like Wallace were promoting hysteria. And they should stop.
Here’s how that segment went:
At the center of the government’s response (which has been hampered by the right-wing’s budget-cutting mania) to Ebola is the guy Fox and others have attacked, the CDC’s director, Dr. Thomas Frieden. Guess what he did? He and his people made mistakes. And he was big enough to admit it. He came right out and said so. He has now sent a team of experts to Dallas and said, “I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed.”
I don’t know about you, but I want a guy like that, who is as competent as they come when it comes to working in public health and who is willing to admit it when he messes up, to be in charge of something as important as fighting Ebola.
As far as the hospital in Dallas where the two health care workers were infected—the only two in the country so far—they have also admitted, better late than never, that they made a lot of mistakes, too. And you know what? That’s the first step towards fixing things, towards getting it right.
And we will get this thing right. This isn’t Liberia or Sierra Leone. But what we may never be able to fix is right-wing journalism.