The media ‘pandemic’
As of Friday, there had been exactly one death in the United States from the swine flu. He wasn’t a U.S. citizen. He was a Mexican youth who happened to die in this country.
There are a few dozen other cases in the United States and nearly all of them are reportedly mild. People suffering from the swine flu aren’t on their death beds. In fact, most of them are probably suffering not a great deal more than if they had a common cold.
But 36,000 Americans die every year from the common, garden variety flu.
Those statistics quite starkly illustrate the indsidious nature of the media, particularly television, to run, and run hard, with the panic story du jour. We, that being the print media, won’t deny some culpability, but much of the current unnecessary near-hysteria about swine flu must be laid at the feet of the 24-hour news networks.
If one were to listen, and unfortunately far too many people do, to the likes of MSNBC, CNN and FOX the past few days, he or she might logically conclude that we’re in the midst of a deadly flu outbreak the likes of which haven’t been seen since 1918.
That is about as far from the case as it could possibly be.
In the grand scheme of things the swine flu problem — we’re not going to call it a pandemic, or even an epidemic — is of little consequence to anyone other than the very, very few people who have it.
But perspective is something that’s lost in the age of instant and constant news.
Something, after all, has to fill up all that air time.
So yes, do wash your hands often.
Yes, cough into a tissue.
Yes, do stay home if you feel ill.
And please, please, pay no attention to the hyperventilating reporters and anchors who would have us all believe that death from swine flu is imminent.