Is This Our Best Defense Against COVID-19?

For weeks after a new, mysterious virus emerged in China, the President of the United States downplayed the threat. Even as the first cases cropped up in the U.S., Trump brushed off the seriousness of COVID-19.

It will just disappear miraculously, he claimed. It won’t stand up against April’s heat, he told us. Everything’s under control, he said. We have it contained. His surrogates – the Kellyanne Conways and Larry Kudlows – reinforced this demonstrably false view.

Meanwhile, the conservative media – led by Fox – spread the same story. One Fox host even claimed fear of COVID-19 was drummed up by the mainstream media and the Democrats as another impeachment attempt against the President.

As of this week, they’re all singing a different song. The hero Trump has acted swiftly to stem the tide of the pandemic. In spite of stumbling blocks left over from a certain previous administration.

Fortunately, most of the U.S. had access to real information the whole time. And lots of it. Thanks to our remaining independent newspapers.

Unparalleled Coverage – Right When We Need It

Sure, we have news programming on local TV stations. And a half-hour of news on the major networks. But the independence of these news sources was lost long ago.

You see, TV news was once treated as a public service. The FCC granted you a license, and you took a financial hit to report actual news to your viewers. Today, network and local news programming is expected to generate revenue. So more and more of those precious 22 – 44 minutes (after ad time is subtracted) are devoted to appealing fluff pieces.

Broadcast news carries less and less actual news every year. So, there’s little time to go in-depth on any key issues. And when they do, ratings concerns dictate a degree of sensationalism.

Cable channels like MSNBC and CNN fare a little better. But they’re still driven by advertising revenue. Which means you’ll see plenty of fluff on these channels, too. And lots of “infotainment.”

Blogs and news sites on the Internet generally get their news from more traditional sources. They’re really commentary sites. Most just parrot what they’ve read on network news or newspaper websites. Without their sources they’d dry up.

But newspapers have a tradition of in-depth coverage. Of digging into stories that are important – not just sensational. And of even-handed coverage.

That tradition has held on during the current health crisis. I get more – and more in-depth  – coverage of the COVID-19 story from my newspaper subscription than from any other source.

America’s struggling newspapers are still doing their job better than anyone else.

Freedom Isn’t Free

You know what’s interesting? How often network TV and cable news shows quote newspapers… and how rarely the opposite happens. If I had a nickel for every time CNN quoted the New York Times and the Washington Post, Bill Gates would be my pool boy.

In a world where newspapers are dropping like flies, they’re still ahead of the curve. If we let them die, our world will nearly go dark. And – make no mistake about it – far too many good papers are on life support.

Every time a local paper dies, Americans get a little less free. Because freedom isn’t free.

Do you want someone keeping your legislators honest? That requires oversight. There are plenty of folks eager to do it… But they have bills to pay. That’s why journalism is a profession… and not a hobby. That includes on the local level.

Do you want your children to inherit a democracy? Then you’d better be ready to pony up. Because defending against tyranny has a price. In this case, it’s the price of a daily paper. And, believe me, folks in countries without a free press can tell you freedom is worth it.

How Much Is Your Freedom Worth?

I pay $100 a year – less than $2 a week – for my freedom. That’s the cost of my online newspaper subscription. My wife pays a similar amount for her subscription to a second paper.

Is our democracy worth $200 a year to you? Or even $100? Chances are that’s a lot less than you spend on coffee or donuts each year. But it’s enough to keep scores of journalists holding the government’s feet to the fire day after day.

At least it is if enough of us care about freedom. Including freedom from disease. Because lies and misinformation about COVID-19 abound.

  • Wearing a mask will not protect you.
  • Drinking bleach will not cure you.
  • Colloidal silver has no effect on this virus.

And, for goodness sake, hoarding toilet paper does nothing… Beyond pissing off your neighbors.

Of course, you’d already know all this if you subscribed to a newspaper.

[Full disclosure: This writer once worked for a newspaper – the now-defunct Haverhill Gazette. He probably qualifies as the worst paperboy in history. But even he couldn’t sink a decent paper in the 1960s.]

Bonus Post: Five Tweets That Reveal Trump’s Character

The current administration commits so many scandals and outrages, that it’s nearly impossible to keep up. We have quite a few articles that were abandoned as a more pressing issue came up. Here’s one from earlier this year. It still applies.

 

How anchored is Donald Trump to reality? Well, based on his tweets, not very.  Here are a five spewings that reveal Trump’s character very clearly…

February 25 – Spike Lee Accepts an Oscar

Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts, etc.) than almost any other Pres!

Lee never mentioned Trump. He praised his grandmother. He remembered the enslavement of his ancestors. And he ended on a positive note:

“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.”

Why does Trump assume choosing love vs. hate is an attack on him? Sounds like a guilty conscience. Maybe because he knows his “more for African Americans” claim is pure B.S.?

After all, this is the guy who said the Central Park Five should remain in prison… even after DNA evidence completely cleared them.

February 25 – The Border Wall

We have a State of Emergency at our Southern Border. Border Patrol, our Military and local Law Enforcement are doing a great job, but without the Wall, which is now under major construction, you cannot have Border Security. Drugs, Gangs and Human Trafficking must be stopped!

Trump has made several references lately to prayer rugs at the border, women tied up with their mouths covered with duct tape, and other scenes from the Hollywood movie “Sicario.”

None of these scenarios have been recorded on our southern border… but Trump uses them to push for his wall.

And then cannibalized key military projects to add to the wall. Apparently, he doesn’t know the difference between a movie and a documentary.

February 22 – New U.N. Ambassador

I am pleased to announce that Kelly Knight Craft, our current Ambassador to Canada, is being nominated to be United States Ambassador to the United Nations….

….Kelly has done an outstanding job representing our Nation and I have no doubt that, under her leadership, our Country will be represented at the highest level. Congratulations to Kelly and her entire family!

When Trump anointed Craft as ambassador to Canada, the Canadian press noted she had donated more than $265,000 to the Trump campaign in 2016. She and her husband had also donated almost $3 million to other Republican causes.

Her qualifications as a diplomat? Well… One speech to the U.N. general assembly under George W. Bush. Simply put: Money over qualifications.

February 21 – The Jussie Smollett Controversy

.@JussieSmollett – what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!? #MAGA

I’m not going to defend Jussie Smolett here… but this seems a bit hypocritical from the man who called Neo-Nazis “fine people” after the Charlottesvlle incident.

And it took him days to make any comment on the Coast Guard officer who planned to kill liberals. Even though he weighed in on the Smollett case almost immediately.

Trump has insulted tens of millions with racist tweets… but hasn’t apologized for any of them.

February 20 – NYT Is “Enemy of the People”

The New York Times reporting is false. They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!

Once again, Trump directs his hate and anger at the press. At this point, it doesn’t even matter what the story is. Trump is stoking hate – and thus advocating violence – against the press.

The problem is the press is reporting the truth. Trump calls any news story he doesn’t like “fake news.” Then foments violence against the source.

If the New York Times is failing, as he claims… why does he have to spend so much time pointing it out? The NY Times’ subscriber base is one of the most robust in the industry.

Look, if you’re still excusing Trump, it’s time to stop. The man is out of control. And out of touch with reality. How long can you deny the evidence? It’s all on video.

Trump is a racist. He’s anti-American. And he has no respect for our Constitution.

He needs to go.

Is there room for conservatives in America? Absolutely. But only those conservatives willing to work within the bounds of our Constitution.

Our Democracy has lasted for 200 years. Let’s not let one self-absorbed billionaire destroy the greatest political experiment in human history.

The Moron’s Guide to American History

Thanks to Donald Trump, we’ve discovered just how little we know about the American Revolution. But Trump set us straight… which we all should appreciate.

For example, you may have thought General Cornwallis was English. Nope. Trump pointed out he was “of Yorktown.” In one of the great ironies of the Revolutionary War, Britain’s top general apparently surrendered in his hometown.

We also learned Washington seized control of the war in the air. In a stroke of remarkable foresight, General Washington took control of the airports more than a century before man’s first powered flight.

And – in the only known case of an army traveling through time – Patriot soldiers defended Fort McHenry “under the rocket’s red glare.” Thus ensuring the poem that became our national anthem would be written more than 30 years later.

And that’s just some of the nonsense Trump spouted on July 4th. But it’s not like that’s all the nonsense he’s ever spouted. Not even just for this holiday…

Out of Touch With Reality

Dreaming Donnie also told us the Continental Army was “named after the great George Washington.” It wasn’t.

A few days earlier, he claimed the army was bringing “brand new” Sherman tanks to the D.C. celebration. “Brand new” tanks that haven’t been in service since 1957. If you’re counting, that’s more than 60 years ago.

Even the “brand new” M-1 Abrams tanks he touted have been in service since 1980. So they don’t really qualify as new, either.

Trump makes a habit of spouting off on subjects on which he knows almost nothing.

Who can forget when he brought Frederick Douglass back from the dead for Black History month? “… Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.”

Or when Trump falsely claimed Finland’s president told him they “rake” their forests to prevent wildfires. “… they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things,” he said, “and they don’t have any problem.”

Donald Trump has little regard for facts. Which becomes deeply troubling when you consider he has access to the nuclear codes.

Utterly Consumed With His Own Image

Donald Trump is never really wrong. At least, according to Donald Trump.

Negative press is always “fake news.”

The Trump Tower meeting with Russian agents offering dirt on Hillary? Fake news. It was about adoptions.

Donnie, Jr. actually knew it was about dirt on Hillary? Fake news. He had no idea.

Little Donnie’s e-mails show he should have been aware? Fake news. He didn’t read the subject lines.

Donnie, Jr. wrote, “I love it!” in response? Fake news, because nothing came of it.

Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels? Fake news… And on and on it goes.

CNN, the “failing” New York Times, and The Washington Post are all “fake news” in Trump’s mind. And “the enemy of the people.” Why? Because they paint an unflattering – though accurate – portrait of a self-centered would-be autocrat.

On the other hand, Trump heaps praise on “news” organizations like Info Wars, Breitbart, and Fox News. Why? They stroke his ego. Fox News personalities routinely praise Trump for making moves they trashed Obama for. (Case in point, being open to meet with Kim Jong Un.)

Like the reality star he is, Trump is consumed with his image. To the point where the President of the United States favors sycophants over experts for key government positions… recklessly threatens any regime that stands up to him… and publicly trashes our intelligence services when they don’t agree with his “gut feelings.”

Again, this is a man who has access to the nuclear codes. If you’re not frightened yet, you’re made of sterner stuff than I am.

The Sobering Lesson History May Soon Teach Us

Many politicians are telling us not to worry. The Constitution is strong enough to withstand a Trump overreach.

But our Constitution is only as strong as the will of the people. And right now a minority of those people own the majority of the guns… and they tend to be pro-Trump.

Look at what just happened in Oregon. Republican state legislators went into hiding to prevent a vote on a climate bill. The governor called on the state police to round them up. Well-armed right-wing militias threatened violence in response… forcing the state house to close.

Trump has hinted he may not accept election results if he loses in 2020. This from the guy who openly “hinted” violence would break out if the Left pushed his followers too hard.

“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people,” Trump told Breitbart in March, “but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

Revolutionary War airports? That’s a sign of incredible stupidity. Conflating the Revolution with the War of 1812? Gross ignorance.

But underestimating the danger Trump poses to our democracy? That’s item #1 on the Moron’s Guide to American History.