As I look out the window of my Washington, DC apartment, I see cars driving past, I see people walking their dogs, I see families out riding bikes and joggers taking a little exercise. Some of them are wearing masks, but by no means all of them. In general, it looks like an average, sunny spring day. What I don’t see is ambulances rushing to cart sick people to overcrowded emergency rooms, bodies keeling over in the street, or people fleeing in fear from one another’s germs. The hospital a couple of blocks down the road from me shows no signs of being overwhelmed, even though DC is supposedly one of the new coronavirus hot spots.
Yet, if I turn on the television or look at social media, I am told that the country is facing a pandemic of biblical proportions, that to go outside is to court death, and that it is absolutely necessary to keep the majority of the economy shut down for at least another month, or else face consequences so dire we dare not think about them, much less weigh them in a rational cost-benefit analysis.
Every day, new alarming reports of the COVID-19 death toll are released.
But as Lawrence Crowder pointed out on his show, using data from the CDC, deaths from the flu, pneumonia, heart conditions, and other common ailments have seemingly plummeted, because doctors are being allowed to ascribe COVID-19 as the cause of death without actually testing for it. In other words, it looks an awful lot like people dying from the flu are being erroneously counted as COVID-19 deaths in order to inflate the numbers.
I want to be clear here: I am not saying the pandemic is a hoax. I think there are serious questions to be raised about the data we’re being fed, and I think the policy response has by and large been the wrong one, but I have no doubt that the coronavirus is real and that it’s killing people.
But although it’s understandable why one might be skeptical, the media is having none of it. They are here to warn us about the dangers, not only of the pandemic, but of the lying liars who say the pandemic isn’t real, whoever they are.
In the early stages of the disease, Ron Paul wrote a column called “The Coronavirus Hoax” in which he argued that the disease, while real, was being exaggerated as an excuse to take away our liberties. Needless to say, the media were positively gleeful when a few days later, his son Sen. Rand Paul tested positive for the virus.
If you do a google search for “COVID-19 hoax” you will find a handful of low-profile individuals questioning the official story coming from the government and from media outlets, but these are vastly outnumbered by the scores of furious articles denouncing COVID-19 Truthers as dangerous sources of misinformation, even threatening legal action against them. I actually had a hard time finding anyone with any reasonably sized audience making the claims that these articles complain about.
But okay, let’s say for the sake of argument that serious people are spreading the Great Coronavirus Hoax theory. Why do we suppose that might be? I’m no doctor, but I would hazard a guess that it might have something to do with the fact that the mainstream media keeps getting caught lying to us over and over again. For example, Reason has helpfully collected a few cases of the media propagating the ridiculous claim that 2.2 million Americans could die from the coronavirus. Buried far below the headline, if mentioned at all, is that fact that this worst-case scenario projection was completely invalid as soon as it was made, because it assumed that absolutely no social distancing or any other change in behavior would take place. It’s a bit like predicting how many people will die of starvation, assuming no one remembers to eat.
News outlets have been repeatedly caught misrepresenting photos of an Italian hospital as being taken in New York City, making hospital crowding appear worse than it is. And debunked claims that New York is running out of burial space were made using misleading images from a potter’s field that has been used to bury the bodies unclaimed homeless people for decades. A video of a nurse sobbing hysterically about the danger she faces was shared uncritically by CBS before it turned out that the woman was an Instagram model with questionable mental health, who had only just returned to nursing after more than a year’s hiatus.
All of these fake or exaggerated stories combine to paint a picture that is worse than what Americans can actually observe with their own eyes.
The media has been playing the part of the Boy Who Cried Wolf for the entire duration of this pandemic, and now they have the nerve to complain about conspiracy theorists and rational skeptics. Well, what are we supposed to believe? Are we supposed to continue to blindly trust networks that have provably and repeatedly lied to us? That hardly seems like a realistic expectation, unless you believe that America is wholly populated by lobotomy patients.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf has a moral that is so simple and obvious that 19th century German children were expected to understand it: don’t lie or else no one will believe you when you are telling the truth. Yet, it’s something that America’s supposedly sophisticated, college-educated elite journalists seem totally unable to grasp.
Again, I don’t think the coronavirus is a hoax, but if anyone does think that, there’s no question that the blame rests solely on the shoulders of a brazenly dishonest media.