Tag Archives: Swine Flu

The Tattlesnake Suspicious Minds Edition

Big Media ‘Pandemania’ Hides More Important News

Instead of ‘Swine Flu’ how about ‘Hamthrax’? **

For a couple of weeks in late April and early May, American news consumers were fed a near-constant diet of panic-stricken speculation by the US Big Media of an approaching Swine Flu bug that could have killed millions. Yes, it could have, but it didn’t. As tragic as it is that any have died from the H1N1 flu virus, only three Americans, and fewer than 100 people worldwide, have been killed by this flu. Many more die of car accidents, malaria and tuberculosis in a month than have expired from H1N1, yet cars are not banned and extraordinary precautions are not prescribed to save us from the ravages of malaria and TB. For that matter, about 3,000 people die each month of complications from conventional flu in this country.

One moment for a definition of terms: News is a declarative statement that ends in a period: Such-and-such happened to so-and-so at this-or-that place due to these conditions. The old ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how.’ Speculation, on the other hand, ends in a question mark. News is supposed to be what already happened, and the facts thereof. Speculation considers the endless possibilities of something that happened, or might happen in the future. That’s not news; that’s basically gossip. Look at how much of the ‘news’ these days on the cable channels and in the broadcast media ends in a question mark, especially where the H1N1 virus is concerned.

Our if-it-bleeds-it-leads Big Media love this kind of doomsday scare story: they can invite on legions of junk scientists trailing random letters of the alphabet after their names to nod sagely at how awful things might turn out in the various ‘worst case scenarios,’ engage in endless solemn crosstalk between earnestly-doltish anchor-jocks and speed-freak peppy anchorettes designed to make them appear as if they were born with frontal lobes, and suck in those viewers who don’t pay any attention to the world around them unless terrified by Hollywood disaster-movie plots, thereby cranking up ratings for the bottomless pit of ennui that is the cable TV 24/7 news cycle.

But there’s another aspect to this Swine Flu distraction that is little noted by the overpaid glitz-blisters and schlockmeisters who have floated to the top of the American media septic tank.

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The Tattlesnake I Heard It Through the Grapevine Edition

There’s nothing more reliable than anonymously-sourced comments, as readers of the NY Times well know

Item 1. “Here’s the way it worked in the GOP when Bush Junior was in office: If some Republican senator or representative threatened to vote against the White House on an important issue, they’d get ‘The Call,’ which went something like: ‘Okay, you vote any way you want but, when you’re up for re-election, don’t count on any help from the RNC, and we’re gonna call the big money donors to the party and tell them to take you off the list. Oh, and we’re also gonna run a heavyweight Republican against you in the primary, so you may not even get to run for re-election. So, you go on and cast your vote however you want.’ You could count the number of Republicans who crossed the line on one hand. I don’t understand why the Democrats can’t do this with the Conserva-Dems.”

Item 2. “These big biotech companies like Monsanto have labs down in Mexico that experiment on all kinds of weird sci-fi stuff they couldn’t get away with in the States. This new Swine Flu virus H1N1 — is some kind of mutant combo of bird flu, swine flu and a human flu. How did those three get together naturally? If one of these weirdo genetic combos got loose outside the lab and started making people sick, you really believe in your wildest dreams that Monsanto or whoever is going to fess up and say ‘Whoops our bad! We goofed and this genetically-altered mutant virus we created got loose!’ Sure — the billions in lawsuits and bad PR would bury them.”

Item 3. “Arlen Specter’s dreaming if he thinks he’s going to win the Pennsylvania Democratic primary. Off-year primaries are where the real party faithful vote and some of these folks still remember when Specter jumped from the Democrats to the Republicans in 1965, and they’re still pissed about it. Any credible Democrat could beat him. Hell, Chris Matthews could beat him. Specter could maybe save his bacon if he became a real progressive Democrat, but he’s already shown he’s not going there. Obama and [PA Gov. Ed] Rendell will say a few good words about him, but that’s not going to save him. That old man’s living in a fairyland. His ass is astroturf in 2010, in my opinion.”

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Stupid Quote of the Week: Swine Phooey

What does this even mean?

“[Swine flu] has not reached the full potential of what could happen.”
— Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent, May 1, 2009.

Or maybe it has:

“The swine flu outbreak that has alarmed the world for a week now appears less ominous, with the virus showing little staying power in the hardest-hit cities and scientists suggesting it lacks the genetic fortitude of past killer bugs.”
— Mike Stobbe and David B. Caruso, “Swine Flu May Be Less Potent Than First Feared,” AP, May 1, 2009.