When I first had a chance to read comments Texas Lt. Gov Patrick made on Tucker Carlson’s program Monday night, I gasped at first, understanding why my elderly mom and others who read what was reported by major news outlets could have gotten so spooked.

But Patrick’s comments, in which he talked about how the U.S. economy could not shut down for a three-month-period, were wildly taken out of context by many media outlets, as I soon learned. Here’s a rare example of how they were reported somewhat fairly by The Hill:

“No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in,” Patrick, who turns 70 next week, said during an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program on Monday night.

[…]

While discussing Trump’s remarks during his appearance on Fox News on Monday night, Patrick said he thinks Americans “should wait out his time, and if he says we need another week, I trust his judgement.”

“But we have to have a time certain,” he continued. “We cant say in three months, or six months, or twelve months. These businesses can’t wait that long.”

“So, my message is that, let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it, and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves but don’t sacrifice the country,” Patrick said at another point during his appearance. “Don’t do that.”

Here are several examples of sensationalistic headlines about Patrick’s remarks:

NY Daily News: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggests elderly should die to save economy from coronavirus
WaPo: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick comes under fire for saying seniors should ‘take a chance’ on their own lives for sake of grandchildren during coronavirus crisis
CNN: Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: ‘I’m all in’ on risking my health to lift social distancing guidelines for economic boost
LA Times: Sacrifice the old to help the economy? Texas official’s remark prompts backlash
Vanity Fair: Texas Lt. Governor: Old People Should Volunteer to Die to Save the Economy

Not only were headlines like that dangerously irresponsible, but nearly every single news report I read (outside of The Hill’s) about Patrick’s comments left out the beginning of Carlson’s segment and towards the end of it. It’s in those two areas of the segment where Patrick made it clear he was okay with Trump’s timeline. He said nothing about us getting back to normal right now while amid this pandemic.

Carlson started by reading a text Patrick had sent him in which he noted that he wasn’t speaking for all 70+ seniors, but that he felt like many grandparents want their grandchildren to “live in the America I did.” Patrick went on to say in the text message that the virus, which “experts say 98% of all people will survive is killing our country in a another way.”

Stating the Wuhan Coronavirus could “bring about a total economic collapse” or cause our entire society to collapse, Patrick said “let’s give this a few more days or weeks. But after that, let’s go back to work and go back to living.”

He went on to say in the text message that those who want to shelter in place can still do so, but that “we can’t live with this uncertainty.”

During the segment, Patrick made sure to note that everyone should follow the CDC’s guidelines. Noting he was “going to do everything” he could “to live,” Patrick said “we’ve got a choice here … we’re going to be in a total collapse, recession, depression, collapse in our society.”

Patrick then warned that if this “goes on another several more months, there won’t be any job to come back to for many people. So I’m going to be smart,” and other grandparents would, too, because they want to live for a long time and spend time with their grandkids. But “our biggest gift we give to our country and our children and our grandchildren is the legacy of our country. And right now that is at risk,” he said.

Noting the mortality rate for Wuhan Coronavirus cases is low, Patrick wondered if the entire country had to be shut down. “I think we can get back to work,” he said, affirming that he believed in Trump’s timeline for evaluating and reevaluating. “I think we should wait out his time, and if he says we need another week, I trust his judgement. But we have to have a time certain. We can’t say in three months or six months or twelve months. These businesses can’t wait that long.”

Watch the full segment below:

It’s clear what he was saying. We should wait this out a few weeks and reevaluate as Trump has said to determine when we can get the country moving again because this country cannot sustain itself if its people aren’t working and being productive and providing for their families.

There was nothing whatsoever in there about forcing seniors to sacrifice their lives “for the economy.” There was nothing in there about asking them to do anything of the sort “in the middle of the pandemic.” Patrick was just saying that this could not go on indefinitely, that at some point, we needed to try and move forward for the sake of those who come after us and that if we waited too long, the country we know and love would cease to exist.

I find it appalling how what Patrick said is being misreported by so many media outlets. Still, frankly I’m not surprised, considering how they ran with the “elderly couple drinking fish tank cleaner” story and decided to blame it on Trump. I can’t prove it for sure, but I’d be almost willing to bet money most “journalists” who reported on Patrick’s interview with Carlson did so based on the deceptively shortened clip that was posted by Media Matters.

In both the fish tank cleaner story and this one, the mainstream media engaged in highly erroneous reporting that needlessly scared senior citizens – including my parents – at a time when their fears are running high, and their nerves are on edge.

I’d say “shame on them,” but I really don’t think most national media journalists have any.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —

 

 
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