It is quite clear the media has completely distorted the risks associated with the Wuhan coronavirus in a quest for click-bait and anti-Trump political messaging.
A Franklin Templeton–Gallup Economics of Recovery Study demonstrates clearly how devoid of reality the press coverage has been. The analysis found that Americans completely overestimate the risk of death associated with the virus.
- On average, Americans believe that people aged 55 and older account for just over half of total COVID-19 deaths; the actual figure is 92%.
- Americans believe that people aged 44 and younger account for about 30% of total deaths; the actual figure is 2.7%.
- Americans overestimate the risk of death from COVID-19 for people aged 24 and younger by a factor of 50; and they think the risk for people aged 65 and older is half of what it actually is (40% vs 80%).
These results are nothing short of stunning. Mortality data have shown from the very beginning that the COVID-19 virus age-discriminates, with deaths overwhelmingly concentrated in people who are older and suffer comorbidities. This is perhaps the only uncontroversial piece of evidence we have about this virus. Nearly all US fatalities have been among people older than 55; and yet a large number of Americans are still convinced that the risk to those younger than 55 is almost the same as to those who are older.
This misperception translates directly into a degree of fear for one’s health that for most people vastly exceeds the actual risk…
The twin culprits in this disinformation campaign are social media and Democratic Party messaging.
- People who get their information predominantly from social media have the most erroneous and distorted perception of risk.
- Those who identify as Democrats tend to mistakenly overstate the risk of death from COVID-19 for younger people much more than Republicans.
This, sadly, comes as no surprise. Fear and anger are the most reliable drivers of engagement; scary tales of young victims of the pandemic, intimating that we are all at risk of dying, quickly go viral; so do stories that blame everything on your political adversaries. Both social and traditional media have been churning out both types of narratives in order to generate more clicks and increase their audience.
The study asserts that there is a risk of inflation as the result of people’s willingness to pay more for a perceived safety benefit they do not really need, especially if they don’t have significant risk factors.
Another element increasing the toxicity level of coverage is the suppression of positive news related to coronavirus infections.
An interested reporter might choose to go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to determine that the number of people in the hospital with laboratory-confirmed cases was lower than it has been since the beginning of the March 21 lockdown, despite the substantially elevated level of testing.
But today’s journalists would rather rely on the latest Tweet when preparing articles.
When you consider all the health repercussions of the press-induced panic (e.g., delays in obtaining needed healthcare due to fear of the virus, the health effects of stress, the psychological impacts of job loss, the possible loss of 100,000 lives due to the negative coverage of hydroxychlorquine), the American media’s coverage has arguably been more toxic than the Wuhan coronavirus itself.DONATE
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