Reflecting on the news this week, I’ve come to appreciate the commonality of the Chinese and the American media. The Chinese media is controlled by the Communist government and America’s media is controlled by entertainment companies who also voluntarily submit some of their content to Chinese censors. Both the Chinese and America media wantonly disseminate false and misleading information.
Transcripts made public this week revealed Obama Administration officials never had any material evidence to justify their heavily publicized allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. How would you interpret this testimony from former Obama director of national intelligence and CNN analyst James Clapper? “I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting/conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election.” Or this testimony from former Obama deputy assistant secretary of defense Evelyn Farkas when asked how she knew about Trump-Russia collusion given she’d left the administration in 2015. “I didn’t know anything,” she admitted.
Farkas, now running for Congress, on March 2, 2017 appeared on MSNBC where she was an analyst and urged intelligence community bureaucrats to disseminate within the government and potentially leak to the media any incriminating evidence they had on Trump or his aides.
One might expect America’s anti-Trump media would be clacking with the same outrage they display when the president is caught with his all too frequent lies and deceptions. Unfortunately, this would be too embarrassing for the New York Times and the Washington Post, which in 2018 were awarded Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting on alleged Trump-Russia collusion heavily based on information from former Obama officials and deep state loyalists. Information contained in the Times’ and Post’s prize-winning stories was also discredited by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
This is why I distrust the Times and the Post as much as I do Fox News and Breitbart. They all are quite adept at bending and distorting facts. In today’s world, discerning truth means wading through lots of misinformation and lies, which is why I straddle parallel universes and diligently read liberal and conservative publications. It’s also why I’m against allowing social media sites like Facebook and YouTube the power to censor content. “Fake news” often has kernels of truth.
A slick video that exploded on social media this week featured controversial virologist Judy Mikovits making some pretty damning claims, including that the coronavirus is being wrongly blamed for many deaths. Another serious allegation is that Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), holds patents on vaccines and has a financial motive to promote one for Corona-19.
Based on what I’ve read in Science, FactCheck, and other publications, there’s very good reason to distrust Mikovits. The video featuring her allegations has been taken off social media sites for the public good because she alleged that wearing masks “activates” the corona virus and that could discourage people from wearing them. Let’s assume all the “experts” quoted by the media discrediting Mikovits’ claim are correct. Let’s also conveniently forget that just a few weeks ago “experts” were telling us that wearing masks wasn’t an effective preventive measure.
I was still enlightened watching the discredited video. What I found most alarming was Mikovits’ claim that hospitals receive considerably more Medicare compensation if they diagnose a patient with Covid-19 and even more monies if they put the patient on a ventilator. This apparently is true.
As noted by Republican Minnesota Senator and physician Scott Jensen and fact-checked by USA Today, hospitals treating a patient with garden-variety pneumonia – an ailment so common in elderly patients it’s known as “the old man’s friend” – receive a mere $5,000 from Medicare. But if they classify that patient as suffering from Covid-19, they get $13,000. And if they put the patient on a ventilator, they get $39,000.
Am I cynical enough to believe that altruistic “nonprofit” hospitals would cheat the government with bogus diagnoses? I am and you should be too. The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimates that health care fraud represents as much as $300 billion, or 10 percent of America’s annual health care outlay. And much of this fraud is for costly treatments that weren’t medically necessary.
Much was made about the potential national shortage of ventilators, but this might have proved to be a good thing if that had been the case (so far, it hasn’t). According to a recent analysis published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Covid-19 death rate could have been reduced by as much as 50 percent had ventilators been used more sparingly to treat virus patients.
In New York City, which has experienced the highest number of reported Covid-19 deaths, many patients died because they were overseen by residents with no experience in highly specialized respiratory therapy. The Wall Street Journal, in a story remarkable for its detail, reported that at one hospital residents in specialties like psychiatry, dentistry, and podiatry were told to learn respiratory therapy, a licensed job requiring two years of training, from a Zoom session and a Google document. At another hospital, a patient died on a ventilator with a setting turned too high by residents who didn’t know how to operate the device.
An obvious question is why New York hospitals and governor Cuomo didn’t call on trained respiratory therapists from other less burdened states to ease the burden rather than rely on low-cost, untrained residents. The latter was akin to employing florists to combat forest fires.
Mikovits’ claim that Fauci is financially conflicted is technically true, though she was deceptive in framing her claim. A 2005 Associated Press story revealed that Fauci received payments relating to the development of interleukin 2 as a treatment for HIV/AIDS. Fauci told a trade publication that he was required to have his name appear on the patent and acknowledged it was “inappropriate” to have received the royalties. He said he donated the money to charity.
Still, the National Institute of Health, where Fauci oversees the agency’s infectious disease research institute, has done a poor job ensuring that government-funded research isn’t tainted by financial conflicts. A ProPublica investigation published last December found that federally funded health researchers reported more than 8,000 “significant” financial conflicts of interest worth at least $188 million. As ProPublica explained, “outside income from interested parties can potentially affect researchers’ objectivity and influence the design and findings of their taxpayer-subsidized work.”
The corporate media mostly adheres to a singular narrative that Donald Trump is entirely to blame for America’s poor response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Occasionally stories like this New Yorker feature creep out that show New York mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have considerable blood on their hands. But these are exceptions.
As I took a break from writing this post, the most prominent story on the Washington Post’s home page was this article reporting that the Trump Administration in January turned down an offer from Texas-based Prestige Ameritech to manufacture millions of N95 masks. The story had a familiar ring: The New York Times in March also reported Prestige Ameritech warned the federal government about the dangers of foreign-made masks but in the Times’ version the warnings were also issued to the Bush and Obama Administrations.
Unlike a good bottle of wine, American journalism doesn’t get better with age.