Here's the Alarming COVID-19 Report by British Scientists that Made Trump and Fox Change their Tune
Last week, media columnist Margaret Sullivan recommended one action that would instantly compel Donald Trump to drop the clown act and begin taking COVID-19 seriously: Rupert Murdoch ordering his highly paid wingnut employees at Fox News to stop minimizing the pandemic via conspiracy theories and political attacks.
So, on Monday, as Trump and the prime-time jackasses on Fox alike made a sudden, whiplash pivot in the attitudes and demeanor with which they talk about the crisis, Sullivan’s piece in the Washington Post was the first thing that came to mind:
"The insidious feedback loop between President Trump and Fox News is no secret.
When Trump says “jump,” the network leaps into action. And what the president hears on Fox News often dictates his own pronouncements and policies — which, in turn, are glowingly represented in Fox News’s coverage and commentary.
That’s never been anything short of dangerous, since the effect has been to create a de facto state-run media monster more devoted to maintaining power than shedding light on the truth. But now the mind-meld of Fox News and Trump is potentially lethal as Trump plays down the seriousness of the coronavirus and, hearing nothing but applause from his favorite information source for doing so, sees little reason to change.
There’s one person who could transform all that in an instant: Fox founder Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born media mogul who, at 89, still exerts his influence on the leading cable network — and thus on the president himself."
As it happens, however, what drove Trump and Sean Hannity into a newly-found sobriety of approach to the crisis was a scary new report, prepared by a team of U.K. scientists. Their epidemiological models demonstrated that a failure by policy makers to implement severe new social distancing restrictions could result in 2.2. million deaths in the U.S.
Dr. Neil Ferguson, the lead author of the Imperial College team that produced the report, told the New York Times that, “we’re going to have to suppress this virus – frankly, indefinitely – until we have a vaccine.”
“We don’t have a clear exit strategy,” Dr. Ferguson said. “It’s a difficult position for the world to be in.”
After China and Italy, what? The 20-page report, lyrically titled “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID- 19 mortality and healthcare demand” and shared with American scientists last weekend, models the spread of sickness and death under a range of scenarios and variables in both the U.K. and U.S.
In the models, the worst case result proceeds from exactly the kind of “relax” asshattery that Trump has practiced since learning of the virus more than two months ago, as he tried to spin it as no big deal, the better to get back to tweeting about Hillary Clinton's emails and pardoning General Flynn.
If the Times report is to be believed, the report made it finally dawn on our 46 percent 45th president that, beyond killing a couple million people, the coronavirus could endanger his re-election. Or something. In any case, on Monday he for the first time spoke about the pandemic with appropriate seriousness and signed off on the CDC's tough new guidelines.
From the report:
"In total, in an unmitigated epidemic, we would predict approximately 510,000 deaths in GB and 2.2 million in the US, not accounting for the potential negative effects of health systems being overwhelmed on mortality."
You can find the full report here.
In other cheerful news. Newsmakers' best-of-the-web coronavirus curation:
There's a second case of COVID-19 confirmed in the county.
The U.S. economy is officially in recession.
Turns out the outgoing Obama Administration provided a working exercise on how to deal with "the worst influenza pandemic is history" before the inauguration, but the Legions of Trump weren't all that interested.
Here's a longread on how pandemics have shaped history.
Images: Update (medpagetoday.com); POTUS; Chart from British epidemiology modeling studying showing potential COVID-19 deaths in U.K. and U.S.; Before there was Newsmakers, there was Ron Burgundy (portal.clubrunner.ca).