Fauci's Comments Are Always Awful, but Why Are Media Outlets Asking These Questions?

Fauci's Comments Are Always Awful, but Why Are Media Outlets Asking These Questions?
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool

Yesterday, a lot of people were still talking about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s statements on COVID-19 and gathering at Christmas. Our Townhall Media colleague and Fox News radio host Guy Benson, in the second hour of his show yesterday,  had a pretty good takedown of Fauci’s past and current statements, how he’s waffled on talking points in the past, and how he’s just been entirely unhelpful through the bulk of this crisis.

But the thing is, Fauci’s behavior is absolutely a known quantity. He is a bureaucrat in a health department position who likes to make media appearances. He is, at this point, a lobbyist for government control over health decisions. He previously had said he didn’t believe there would be a need for a vaccine mandate and now he thinks it’s not so bad. The change came when people weren’t doing what he thought was right and that government needed to be more forceful on the issue.

He is addicted to praise from friendly media, and he is unwilling to admit when he’s wrong or when he’s overstepped. Yesterday’s clarification of his remarks didn’t help in any way except to show that someone thought he messed up and wanted him to fix it.

Yesterday, I responded to Fauci’s hypochondria with the seriousness I felt it deserved. The more serious matter, though, is with our mainstream press, which is insistent on extending this crisis as long as possible.

Media junkie Anthony Fauci
Erin Scott/Pool via AP

There was absolutely no reason to ask the question of Fauci. It isn’t news, it isn’t based on any scientific data of worth, and it doesn’t actually help motivate people to get vaccinated or take up mitigation efforts. It simply exhausts whatever audience they are attracting at this point, almost all of whom are ready to get on with their lives.

The scientific community has been churning out whatever data fits the moment. The longest-running trends are often the ones that get pushed to the side – that children are still less likely to get and spread the virus, that those most at risk are older or have co-morbidities, that schools are not grounds for major spread, that this appears to be more seasonal than behavioral, etc. – while the short-term surges and spikes are hammered away at in headlines and stories.

But the panic does not match the reality, and the panic is only serving news outlets in desperate need of padding their bottom line. Media organizations run these overblown headlines on the virus, tout anecdotal stories, and make sure to hype up every breakthrough or atypical case to the point that people are just shrugging and saying “If we get it, we get it.”

It’s not a right-wing problem. It’s not a partisan problem. It’s a very online problem. You see a lot of people online talking about their vaccine hesitancy, their atypical cases, or their conspiracy theory, and you attribute it to a political agenda rather than looking at the larger picture: Your own coverage has depressed vaccination rates.

It’s the exact same thing that happens during election cycles. You run ads to pump up your guy for a bit during the primaries, but during the general or the run-off, you run a ton of negative ads hoping to get their people to stay home and not vote. When you run a bunch of negative stories about how breakthrough cases are happening to a lot of people (and the rates aren’t really that high or the cases are not serious at all, when you use the vaccine to attack people and call them stupid, and when your talking point is “We have to protect the vaccinated,” you’re just depressing the vaccination rate. You’re hurting your own agenda.

Fauci’s answer on Christmas was beyond stupid and his clarification wasn’t much better. But only a media that has a financial and political stake in extending the COVID-19 crisis would even ask the question in the first place. There was no rhyme or reason for it, but here we are.

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