On the subject of the media getting things wrong, here’s a walk down Memory Lane to review eight major stories of recent years that the media got totally wrong. And they didn’t just make a simple mistake. They ran with these false narratives like Herschel Walker used to run with a football, and smeared, silenced and mocked anyone who dared question their fake news.
And as long as we’re talking about powerful political and media figures getting things wildly wrong, the people who brought you that rights-crushing, censorious, ironfisted, totalitarian pandemic lockdown would really appreciate it if we would forget all the stuff they were wrong about and let bygones be bygones.
Emily Oster, an economics professor at Brown University, made a big splash in the news with an article calling for a “pandemic amnesty” in which Americans forgive each other for going overboard with COVID precautions and pushing policies that later turned out to be ill-founded. She argues that it was a deadly disease we knew nothing about, there was a steep learning curve, and they were just doing their best to protect us with limited knowledge of the problem.
And that’s fine. In fact, it’s almost exactly what I repeatedly wrote in this newsletter, except that I also committed the cardinal sin of including President Trump among those who shouldn’t be personally blamed for every COVID death in America. He seemed to be the only person who was treated as culpable for every mistake, and with deliberately malicious intent, for some reason.
The problem is that too many people who clearly abused their power now want a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card, and that’s not going to happen. It’s one thing to forgive your neighbors for going a little crazy and screaming at you for not wearing a mask while you were raking leaves in your yard. But as Jeff Charles at Redstate.com explains, forgiveness comes after accountability, and this wasn’t just harsh words. It involved authorities destroying people’s lives and silencing their critics to preserve their power even when it was becoming obvious they were in the wrong.
It didn’t take advanced knowledge of the COVID virus to know it was idiotic to arrest people for walking alone on a beach without a facemask, or that it was unconstitutional to shut down churches while declaring liquor stores, strip clubs and BLM rallies to be “essential services.” Even the most basic understanding of what “science” is should’ve told them that you don’t vilify, censor and delicense qualified doctors and researchers for questioning claims that later turned out to be false. And it was clear from early on that COVID was a deadly threat only to certain people. Protecting those groups while letting everyone else go on with their lives was the obvious choice, but people who proposed it were slandered as mass murderers.
And there was never any reasonable justification for firing health care workers and first responders who had already been exposed to COVID and had natural immunity, just because they refused to take a vaccine they didn’t trust or had religious objections to (we later learned that, despite what Fauci and Biden aggressively asserted, the vaccine did not prevent infection or spread of the disease.)
(Incidentally, to show the folly of branding any questioning of officials as “disinformation,” the multi-boosted and Paxlovid-treated head of the CDC just contracted COVID…again!)
Prof. Oster claims these people were just trying to protect us from the dangers of misinformation, but undermines her own case by repeating misinformation. For instance, she writes, “Remember when the public-health community had to spend a lot of time and resources urging Americans not to inject themselves with bleach?” No, I don’t recall that actually being necessary because (A.) Trump never said it, and (B.) I’m not aware of any incidents of anyone being dumb enough to do it, even though the Trump-hating media irresponsibly trumpeted that fake news far and wide.
In sum, I hope we will reach a point of forgiveness and reconciliation. But before forgiveness can be granted, the guilty must display the humility to admit what they did, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Then have to come investigations, accountability and repentance, along with assurances that the damage to our rights will be rolled back, the injured will be compensated as much as is possible, and those who acted in bad faith will be punished and permanently removed from any position of power over the public. Only then can forgiveness and real healing begin.