Crises like the coronavirus pandemic can have value if we learn something from them, and if we change the way we operate as a result of our newfound wisdom. For example, hopefully, we are now well aware of how unwise it is to rely on China for so many of our goods, especially in the field of medicine.
It would be nice if members of our national media and our political leaders would also learn a lesson from this unfortunate event, and, more importantly, would be willing to make some changes in how they operate. God knows, they need to.
I have watched incredulously as members of our national press have wondered why Americans have been so slow in believing in the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak. Every major news network, except Fox News, of course, has predictably laid the blame for this distrust solely at the feet of President Trump. Were he not such a liar or had he not originally downplayed the seriousness at the outset, they crow, people would have taken it much more seriously.
Perhaps there is some truth to that. But, there may be a different explanation for America’s apathy.
Contrary to media reports, President Trump did not invent the political practice of lying. History tells us that our national leaders have engaged in that conduct for decades. Perhaps that has played a role in our distrust.
For example, remember when Richard Nixon spouted, “I am not a crook?” Yes, he was. How about when Bill Clinton pointed at us and proclaimed, “I did not have sex with that woman…?” Uh, yes he did. Or, how about George W. Bush justifying going to war with Iraq based on their “weapons of mass destruction?” They didn’t exist. Or, what about Al Gore’s prediction that the Arctic would be ice-free by 2013? Still kinda cold there. Or, what of Barack Obama’s claim that everyone could keep the doctor of their choice with the implementation of Obamacare? Again, not true.
We have learned that our national leaders lied to us about Benghazi, about both the Vietnam and Afghanistan Wars, and we now know that members of our nation’s premier intelligence and security service, the FBI, submitted falsified documents to the FISA court to obtain warrants to spy on private American citizens.
More recently, Nancy Pelosi warned us of the importance of immediately ridding ourselves of a dangerous President only to sit on the Articles of Impeachment for a month, and Chuck Schumer stood on the steps of the Supreme Court and threatened two justices by name only to assure us the next day that he did no such thing.
I could go on, but is it really necessary?
And, the media wonders why Americans are slow to respond to what we are told?
Sadly, we have come to expect political candidates to make promises they can’t possibly keep, and those already in office to stretch the truth to make themselves look better. We see it every day from members of both parties.
But, what is more alarming is our national media’s propensity to also disregard facts. One only needs to watch CNN and Fox News cover the exact same story to see that, in large part, they have abdicated their responsibility to report the news. The ethical reporting done by the likes of Walter Conkrite has been replaced with talking heads who spend their time pushing their own political agendas.
The media misrepresented the Covington Catholic students’ stand-off with Native American Nathan Phillips; pounced on the Jussie Smollett MAGA hat story; claimed there was no crisis at the southern border; assured us there was collusion with Russia; dismissed the FISA scandal; refuses to acknowledge that there may be two sides to the global warming debate; and falsely claims the Biden-Burisma controversy has been “debunked.”
Since 2000 we have been told civilization could be wiped out by H1N1, H5N1, SARS, MRSA, Ebola, and MERS. We have experienced a real-life version of Chicken Little.
I could go on, but is it really necessary?
The fact that the coronavirus warnings were ignored for so long, and are still being ignored by many, is a direct result of this shameful history, which has been created by both parties’ leaders and our national media. Unfortunately, they have proven time and time again they are not to be believed.
The public’s lukewarm response to this latest crisis should surprise no one. As Aesop’s “Little Boy Who Cried Wolf” learned all too well, persistent liars will not be believed even if they are telling the truth, and that is oh so dangerous.
Wouldn’t it be nice if our national leaders and mass media acknowledged the role they have played in the public’s cynicism instead of just criticizing those who dared to wonder if they were being lied to…again?
But, don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
Tom Dunn is the former superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center.