SUNDAY COLUMN: Coronvirus and the Media

Anne Marie Waters

Sunday October 18th 2020

 

I’ve been clear in the past in my views on the media.  I believe it to be nothing short of evil, and I do not use that word casually.  To wilfully and knowingly misinform an entire population, stirring up panic, spreading outright lies, and then sitting back and watching the consequences while never personally paying any price, is surely awful enough to warrant the label.

The latest example of media rottenness can be found in the coronavirus panic.  It was stirred up by the media, compounded by incompetent and ignorant governments.  The consequence?  The collapse of Western economies, countless deaths, the immense mental suffering of millions of people.  The media will pay no price.  Unless the people vote them out, nor will politicians.

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Corona, False Alarm? Facts and Figures was written by two German doctors, Dr Karina Reiss and Dr Sucharit Bhakdi.  They describe in detail how media and governments turned a fairly typical flu bug in to a worldwide meltdown.  It was all based on false data, misunderstood science, and the media desire to stir up trouble.  The media, as so often, is almost entirely to blame.

I will copy some of the most significant passages in this column.

Back in December, stories began to emerge from China of a deadly new virus.  The media dispersed images of horror coming from that country and apparently revealing widespread death.  Then the same happened in Europe, Italy in particular.

First, the reality.

The starting point is the way in which data was collected.  The vast majority of those who “died” did not die from this virus, but from other causes.  This is fact, and yet, the press (and governments) presented a completely false narrative to the public.  The doctors write:

Right from the beginning, the media and politicians spread a distorted and misleading picture based on fundamental flaws in data acquisition and especially on medically incorrect definitions laid down by the World Health Organisation (WHO).  Each positive laboratory test for the virus was to be reported as a COVID-19 case, irrespective of clinical presentation.  This definition represented an unforgivable breach of a first rule in infectiology: the necessity to differentiate between “infection” (invasion and multiplication of an agent of the host) and “infectious disease” (infection with ensuing illness).  COVID-19 is the designation for severe illness that occurs only in about 10% of infected individuals, but because of incorrect designation, the number of “cases” surged and the virus vaulted to the top of the list of existential threats to the world. 

Another serious mistake was that every deceased person who had tested positive for the virus entered the official records as a coronavirus victim.  This method of reporting violated all international medical guidelines.  The absurdity of giving COVID-19 as the cause of the death in a patient who dies of cancer needs no comment.

So our starting point is false data.  The figures put forward simply weren’t a true representation.  The doctors continue:

The WHO estimates that there are 290,000-650,000 flu deaths each year.  Now turn to COVID-19.  In May, the RKI [Robert Koch Institute – a German federal government body responsible for disease control] calculated 170,000 infections with 7,000 coronavirus deaths equals 4% case fatality rate – as predicted by the WHO!  Conclusion: COVID-19 is really ten times more dangerous than seasonal flu.  However, the number of infections was at least ten times higher because most mild and asymptomatic cases had not been sought and detected.  This would bring us to a much more realistic fatality rate of 0.4%.  Moreover, the number of “true” COVID-19 deaths was lower because many or most had died of causes other than the virus.  Further correction of the number brings us to a rough estimate of 0.1% – 0/3%, which is in the range of moderate flu.  

But what of the role of the media in all this?  Let’s look to Italy for an early example.  Italy was the first European country to appear seriously affected.  The media delighted in showing the world images of mass coffins and overwhelmed hospitals.  This sent fear around Europe, and the media relished it.  The truth however, was somewhat different.

Since northern Italy was particularly affected, it would be interesting to ask if environmental factors had any influence on the way things developed there.  Northern Italy had been dubbed the China of Europe with regard to its fine particulate pollution.  According to a WHO estimate, this caused over 8,000 additional deaths (without a virus) in Italy’s 13 biggest cities in 2006.  Air pollution increases the risk of viral pulmonary disease in the very young and the elderly.  Obviously, this factor could generally play a role in accentuating the severity of pulmonary infections.

Furthermore, in Italy cremations are rare, and that’s part of the reason undertakers were reported as overburdened when the government ordered cremations in the midst of the pandemic, and even brought the army in to assist.  The truth though is that there simply weren’t enough crematoriums and the infrastructure was completely lacking, leading to a backlog.  The media reported none of this, just presented a horrifying picture of what was happening in Europe.

The situation in Germany is covered in great detail in the book.  The media reported impending catastrophe and Germany began to lock down.  Politicians took advantage of the opportunity to present themselves anew to the electorate.

Politicians entered a race for voter popularity – who could profit the most?  Markus Soder, State President of Bavaria, presented himself as “Action Man”, emanating force and determination in front of the cameras.  

But what of the media in the UK?  It was just as dreadful as the rest of Europe.  BBC, Sky, ITV, none of them questioned the extent of the harm caused by this virus.  None seriously questioned the data and whether it was accurate.  They said nothing when it became clear that our hospitals were not overwhelmed but in fact half empty.  Doctors and nurses carrying out dance routines because they were bored did not make the front page.  Instead, the narrative was ramped up: death is at our door and the only way to stop it is to completely shut down our country.  Nothing veered from this, and it is still the narrative all these months later.

Even the soap operas are absolutely drowning in propaganda.  Coronation Street, Eastenders, whatever it may be, the set is swimming in coronavirus warnings and the characters dutifully don their masks.  Advertisements tell us to wear our masks because if we don’t, we’ll be little less than murderers.  The press does not question the use of masks, despite the fact that these only became compulsory after the peak of infection had long passed.

Politicians here too are making the most of the situation.  Mayors and local councillors are jockeying for publicity and position.  This is currently evident in Manchester for example, with Mayor Andy Burnham reinventing a tough public persona for himself.

But it is the role of the media that truly created a global catastrophe from which it will take a generation to recover, if we recover at all.

The media, including social media, did all it could to silence voices stating that all was not as terrible as perceived.  The media wanted panic and panic it got.  We know the fallout.  According to Drs Reiss and Bhakdi:

When critical voices were heard, immediate action was taken to silence them by defamation.  The lung specialist Wolfgang Wodarg was the first to raise his voice.  The defamation campaign that followed was unparalleled.  

As soon as we published our first YouTube videos warning about excessive measures and pointed out that Italy might have other aggravating factors (e.g. the high levels of air pollution), there was the first “facts-check”.  Under the headline “Why Sucharit Bhakdi’s numbers are wrong”, an article was quickly put in to the ZDF Medithek.  Nils Metzger supposedly got to the bottom of it: “Biology professor downplays coronavirus danger”.  A good starting point since the title immediately suggested that we were not dealing with a medical doctor who had seen countless patients and was a specialist in infection epidemiology, but with a biologist.  And at some point the classic situation whereby things are put in to your mouth that you have never said – just to discredit you.  

Metzger: “To present the factor air pollution as the sole trigger for the crisis – as Sucharit Bhakdi did in this video – is unscientific”.  Naturally it was never once claimed anywhere that the high number of victims was solely due to air pollution, because that would indeed have been unscientific.  This statement was a blatant lie.  

Dr Bhakdi had therefore been presented with an awful reality, perhaps for the first time.  That reality is that the media has its own agenda.  It knows what it wants to publish before setting out.  It will find all that confirms its agenda and either ignore, censor, or outright lie about anything that doesn’t.

It is rotten to the core.  The media has destroyed countless lives with its lies and smears, but this time, it has outdone itself.  To inflict this misery on the whole world, knowingly, can not be brushed off as ‘one of those things’.  This is an act of evil, and it should be described as such.

 

Anne Marie Waters 

Leader 

For Britain 

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