Mon. May 20th, 2024

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.

Not to foment a conspiracy theory here, but let’s recall that the conservative, corporation-friendly government of Mexican president Felipe Calderon was installed in office in 2006 following a controversial and close election over progressive Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, which included two million angry Obrador supporters taking to the streets of Mexico City for several days during the recount. (To avoid getting stuck in the details of that election, I’ll just say the Obrador people had many of the same complaints about the voting and recount as the Gore and Kerry supporters in Florida and Ohio after our 2000 and 2004 elections.)

Let’s also keep in mind the story emerging out of Mexico just before this phony ‘pandemic’ arose — open armed revolt against Calderon’s government, including the Federales losing control of some areas of Mexico and even some American border towns were threatened with anarchy. Although the corporately-owned Big Media north of the border has reliably characterized this armed rebellion down south as staged by scary ‘Drug Lords’ and their ‘Crime Families,’ those closer to the situation say that conditions for the poor and middle-class have only worsened under Calderon and concede that the disadvantaged are indeed selling drugs for arms — drugs being the only means to accumulate the kind of money required to rebel against the wealthy and well-armed Calderone Regime. What better way to keep Mexicans off the streets, and out of the rebellion, than to declare a deadly contagious epidemic is sweeping the nation?

Also prominent in the news before this pathetic ‘pandemic’ panic took over the news channels in the US was the release of the White House torture memos which clearly established the foundation for prosecuting the Bush Gang for war crimes. Once the BM began chasing viruses, the torture story nearly disappeared, although it is back in the news now with the ‘debate’ mysteriously centered around Nancy Pelosi’s involvement rather than Dick Cheney’s.

I can’t prove that this mutated H1N1 strain of Swine Flu wasn’t just an accident, but the two major stories it supplanted in the news is a tad suspicious, kind of like the DHS raising the terrorist threat level whenever things got too hot for King Junior.

For more info on Swine Flu and other pandemics that fizzled, read the articles below:

Pandemics that weren’t: Bird (Avian) Flu (the H5N1 virus), West Nile Virus (in US, at its peak in 2006, 4,269 cases with 177 deaths, according to the CBC), SARS, Monkey Pox, and the Ebola virus. None of them approached the death toll of a real global pandemic, such as the 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ influenza epidemic that killed an estimated 30 to 50 million worldwide.

“To put all of this in further perspective, it is useful to compare these numbers to the annual number of deaths from other causes. According to WHO:

1 million people die from malaria each year
2 million from AIDS
2 million from air pollution
7.4 million from cancer
17.5 million from cardiovascular disease
1.6 million from tuberculosis

“In other words, we KNOW that 31.5 million people will die each year from causes that in large part could be prevented”
— Lucinda Marshall, “Aporkalypse Now Finding the Real Swine in the Pandemic Pandemonium,” Common Dreams, May 3, 2009.

“West Nile is indeed very nasty. But it is also a far cry from the bubonic plague. Since 1999 it has spread via mosquitoes to 42 states, and in 2005 it infected 2.653 Americans, killing 86 of them. In comparison, about 20 percent of Americans come down with conventional flu each year, and 36,000 of them die of it. Globally, conventional flu infections kill between a quarter and half a million people annually.”
— Ronald Bailey, “The End of Pandemics,” Reason, Nov. 11, 2005.

** Thanks to Ms. Julie Jurgens for that ‘Hamthrax’ line.

Contact the author at

2009 R.S. Janes.


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Ken Carman
14 years ago

When this nonsense started I was suspicious, considering the torture memos were just being released. I also just read an article over at The Chimp that asks the very valid question: why Newt Gingrich? The media have been following around like puppy dogs. What other ex-speaker has ever had this much attention? Why is it considered “news” every time he opens his mouth? Presidential aspirations? It’s not like he exists in a vacuum of such things: those far more likely to ascend.

There is no “pandemic.” There is little “there” there. What there is, is just tactics. After all the journalism courses I took and the ethics pushed upon me, I wonder how today’s grads live with themselves being entertainers in service of their Reich owners?

The MSM is willingly helping the Reich with “no, look over here” tactics. No wonder I no longer listen or watch.

RS Janes
14 years ago

Ken, even the cheesy journalism course I took forty years ago wouldn’t have allowed the kind of ‘reporting’ I’ve seen on TV and even in such ‘reputable’ news sources as the NY Times and Washington Post. (See my cartoon on Maureen Dowd’s plagiarism posted today. The Whitewater story, for example, would never have gotten past my instructor back then.)

It was simple: who, what, when, where, how and why and leave your speculation at the door, along with any anonymous sources who couldn’t be double-checked for accuracy — especially anonymous sources who had a vested interest in the outcome of your reporting. At the NY Times, Judith Miller was allowed to publish stories that sold the war on Iraq, while using sources with just such a vested interest. Where the hell were the Times’ editors? I can only think that Punch Sulzberger, owner of the Times, wanted friendly relations between the Times company and the Bushites, since he enjoyed the Bush deregulation of business, big corporate tax cuts, and wanted favors from Bush’s FCC. Also not to be discounted is the Times’ cozy relationship with the far right warmongers in the Israeli government who were pushing the war in Iraq.

It’s depressing to contemplate, but if Watergate happened now, most of the Big Media would be finding ways to excuse Nixon instead of prosecute him. It’s disgusting and the death of democracy in this country unless it changes.

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