The current lack of media coverage regarding Covid-19 in the United States is alarming as the statistics themselves. There are, unfortunately, several reasons that this is so incredibly problematic, not least of which is that we hit 116,000 Covid-19 cases in the United States yesterday, and that is just simply an astronomical amount compared to other nations. Put, from a pure data standard; the United States is largely fucked. (Let’s focus solely on the coronavirus for this post, though).
I have not yet heard any major news outlet report on these disturbing statistics, for any amount of meaningful time, in the form of on-air, live coverage. I have not seen a doctor on-air since perhaps Tuesday morning (election morning). Obviously, this is being reported in print, but and this is where things get uncomfortable… I would bet a LOT of money that it won’t matter in the long run, for what is coming.
(FYI, I intend to explain more specifics on the actual SCIENCE of why this lack of coverage of a national crisis is problematic, deadly, and ultimately a dangerous case study long term. I won’t make assertions without further explaining. This will be the first in a series of posts).
To be clear, it isn’t a lack of coverage in itself. It is in combination with the sensationalized coverage of an election that, in the words of the media themselves (and both presidential candidates, and most on the left on social media, for that matter) is largely “wrapped up.” I’ve said this before, but we can’t. Have. It. Both. Ways. Things like democracy, law, behaviorism, science, objectivity— they NEED to exist equally, without fear or favor of ANY environmental variable. That is not what is happening here, though.
Why? Because of people. Diversity. Human behavior.
It is because of individuals’ behavior.
Think about it: what is largely currently happening in most homes in the USA is that we are all going about our daily lives’ with CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, etc., on “in the background.” That is not hyperbole or cliche; I mean it literally. Or maybe we scroll through our email quick to see if Ms. Liebs (this person does not exist) sent out the preschool schedule for Thanksgiving break, and we may catch a glance of the covid numbers. Or someone may mention it outside, and you overhear it. And, even THESE scenarios are a long shot. We are in a pandemic, and these involve contact with… other humans. How often are you opening your email these days?
This is not conjecture— we know this is true, and here is why: Let us not forget that we live in a country in which there is a large fraction of society (MUCH too large) that are working two, perhaps three jobs. There is a large fraction of this country currently in a state of deep, deep grief, or perhaps they are caring for sick family members (Covid or otherwise). Many of us are in a mental health crisis of some sort, whether we recognize it or not. Think of the vast amount of crises’ that are tragically occurring throughout this country (ALL THE REASONS we want Biden to be elected), and then realize the absurdity of covering an election so intently, with minimal mention of the simultaneous deadly public health threat continually lurking. This doesn’t even touch just day to day life, on a good day (taking away the pandemic and multiple existential crises happening— sometimes you forget about an appointment, you know)? That’s why the media, and targeted messaging, is important. Because of people.
The bottom line is that we, collectively, are not actually wondering, or, more importantly, being wanted or even informed about the Covid-19 cases in this country. Once again, the media is messing this up (at best) for the general public. However, the general public is largely missing this (at best), and it will only be “discovered” when thousands more are already dead. Literally, that is not hyperbole. Thousands more will die because of the non-stop focus on an election that a large sector of the entire WORLD right now— whether it’s for Trump or Biden, they want to believe this race is over, for their guy.
I realize there may be legitimate reasons, in terms of journalistic integrity and such, that demand that a large proportion of coverage right now is devoted to the election. I am not disputing this. However, I think it’s important to note that this lack of consistency and NOT maintaining integrity (at all costs) certainly does not favor us. It will cost us thousands of lives. Thousands more.
Instead of demanding that the election be called, we should be demanding that coverage go back to being primarily about this rising health crisis while we want for votes to come in. At the same time, we wait for the boring process of democracy to happen (which we have all stressed that it is— and that’s okay!).
Instead of demanding that the media NOT cover Trump’s press conference (whether that is accurate or not— completely irrelevant when the voiceless are dying), we should be demanding that they also NOT cover Biden’s, too. Not because we don’t want him to win or need to hear him from an emotional perspective, but because we don’t care about politics right now. We CAN’T.
We care about people and saving lives. We care about science and the acknowledgment of diversity. That diversity would then lead us to prioritize coverage of the coronavirus right now theoretically.
Put— the media can’t have a “favorite child,” and neither can we.