A Media-Fueled Covid Scandal in Broward County Is Killed by Facts

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Evidence shows the “follow the science” crowd still struggles with civics and math.

As detailed yesterday by Nick Arama, there was a media surge about a clutch of teachers who all passed away within a 24-hour period in Broward County, Florida. The way this story rolled out, was broadcast, and then ultimately corrected explains so much that has been wrong with the pandemic reporting — in this state especially, but also on a nationwide level.

The story has since been altered, with a correction coming through that the number was not actually three teachers but two, and this begins the press plummeting down the rabbit hole of misinformation, the very practice the media claims is our most damaging reality. The first problem to look at is the sourcing of this information, and the ensuing journalism; more specifically, the lack thereof.

The emergence of this report came from the Broward Teachers Union President, Anna Fusco. That this was derived from a solitary source indicates a problem, and no outlet seemed curious to look further. Fusco shopped her story to many of the local news channels and newspapers, and all enthusiastically repeated the tale. This is the county where the school board has brazenly announced it would be defying the order against mask mandates issued by Governor Ron DeSantis.

Broward is a deeply blue county to begin with, and the local papers especially have been antagonistic — or hostile, even — towards the governor. This was a story tailor-made for the current script that the national media has been latching onto, which is that DeSantis is outwardly killing his constituents. Here they had a wrapped and delivered tale that fit perfectly into that pre-written narrative, so they felt no need to delve into the particulars of the story. 

Consider elsewhere in the press where a solitary source would come forward with a claim — and they just run with the story, absent any exploration. The detail few want to ask, now that the deaths number has been altered, is how the union president was this far off. It was not a case where the number was incorrect; the first reports to come out had specifics, detailing the grades each teacher taught. How do you announce such an item when the person was not, in fact, included?

As this story was still evolving, however, it was splashed on the national news landscape. CNN’s withering morning show, New Day, covered the announced teacher deaths, providing all manner of drama and stern intonations.

Host John Berman punches up the pertinent stats in his delivery. “At least three of the four were – UN-vaccinated.” He then had to include that, “The county, of course, is in a tense standoff with Governor Ron DeSantis over masks.” Then he drops another glaring stat: “We’re told that Broward County had 138 employees test – positive.” Next, hostess Brianna Keilar lent a few more details from the area, after which Berman punctuated things gravely — “In…one…day!” What needs to be highlighted here is all of the manipulations and obfuscations taking place, all done for the purpose of framing things in this area, against the broader statewide story and the desire to injure the character of DeSantis.

In order to go down this path of high drama and low dudgeon, the obvious factor that had to be completely glossed over is that these teachers died before school began, which takes place this coming Wednesday. For them to have passed away this week — when teachers initially return to class — meant that they contracted the virus in their personal lives. Their contracting the virus had zero to do with school, mask mandates, nor anything involving the governor’s orders.

Next, look at the slight dodge Berman makes in his delivery; he says 138 employees in the school system have tested positive. This is not teachers, in other words, but all employees who, again, have not been in schools.

Time now for the journalists to do some math. Broward County is the fifth-largest school system in the country, which has over 7,300 teachers. Factor in how many more people work in the offices, as well as the administration, and the percentage of those contracting the disease becomes laughably miniscule. Yet here the press is, lauding these figures as if they are significant in size.

Virus Outbreak New Jersey
                                 AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Next question — how do these teachers who passed away fit into the narrative that the unvaccinated are largely white, GOP members and/or Fox News devotees? In a county that is so blue it could be the helmet for the Chicago Bears, and you have teachers, who are union members to boot, there is quite a departure from that favored demonization the press relies upon.

This is the nadir of media malpractice taking place, where the unfortunate deaths of a few are held up as an example to forward a particular agenda and to smear a government leader. These are the same voices who constantly cry about politicizing the pandemic, lecturing that lives are too important to resort to partisanship and bias. Yet, here they are perfectly content to hold up deaths and manipulate their details, all in order to deliver a political hit on a governor they uniformly despise.

During a viral crisis, this kind of behavior is enough to make one sick.