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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Fear Virus Strikes Again

Yesterday, I tweeted:

I wonder how many people worried about being infected by ebola have been vaccinated against the flu they're much more likely to catch?
Gabriel Bell wrote at Vocativ:
While worldwide it's a true threat (the WHO just called it "the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times"), Ebola has yet to pose the same kind of danger in the States. Indeed, in the larger scheme of deadly diseases in the U.S., Ebola not only is a newcomer, it's almost statistically nonexistent. While it has the power to spread, kill, and scare, it remains so highly monitored, so highly controlled, that the chance of you or someone you know contracting and dying of it is next to nil (at least for the moment).
Jon Stewart went after news outlets going crazy over Ebola on "The Daily Show" Tuesday night, and yet the media won't stop the fear-mongering reports. Even the new host of NBC's "Meet The Press," Chuck Todd, tweeted Wednesday evening:
Getting the third degree from my 7 and 10yo about Ebola and my travels. Clearly the fear has gone viral and is a topic in school.
Yes, Chuck, that's because you and your colleagues across the media spectrum keep playing it up like there's an Ebola plague in the US when there isn't! While thousands of Africans have died and will continue to die from the disease (a story that you've been abandoned because the victims are on another continent), Ebola has killed exactly one person here, out of a population of some 320 million. Meanwhile, thirty thousand more Americans will be killed by guns this year than by Ebola, not to mention cigarette smoking, unsafe sex, and salmonella -- but where's that wall-to-wall coverage?

The only voice of reason on this topic has been Shepard Smith of Fox News. Shockingly, on a network that allows Bill O'Reilly, Megyn Kelly, and others to create panic on the air, Smith took a few minutes yesterday to try to calm things down by explaining the facts (!) about Ebola, calling out irresponsible reporting on the subject, and finishing by telling viewers to get a flu shot...