As we sit here overnight Sunday, the markets are set to crash again – S&P500 futures are limit down. Oil is crashing and many safe-haven currencies have exploded. Coronavirus is coming! Fear moves markets. Borders are closing, events canceled and economies are set to fall … you have been reading all the scary headlines.
If it’s not a Coronavirus pandemic it is certainly a media pandemic. The media needs fear to generate clicks. Government leaders need to respond or be seen as ineffective leaders. It’s a vicious circle. So even if it is not a pandemic it will certainly affect the economy at this point. Of course, Trump will not escape this scrutiny of his naysayers … it’s Trump’s fault.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) joins the long list of over-hyped, complex issues that an informed citizenry needs to gain a firm grasp on. The list: Trump is a Manchurian candidate, Trump colluded with Putin to interfere in a presidential election, Trump is an illegitimate president, Trump violates emoluments clause, Trump is destroying the Constitution, Trump fired Comey to cover up his crimes, Trump supports white supremacy and Neo-Nazis, Trump puts kids in cages and deaths to immigrants, Trump will cause nuclear war, Trump will cause war with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, Trump will collapse economy with tariff wars, faux Ukraine Impeachment, and many more. This smattering of the litany of media malpractice with impunity cost people their personal fortunes, careers, family, and friends, and even freedom in some cases. But this brand new delivered sugar high has a distinction.
COVID-19 is a real virus that has the potential to impact national and domestic security on a level most Americans have never experienced. Despite almost all news reports, The Trump Administration, CDC, and the NIH have not ignored the problem, failed to prepare and implement a strategy, or claimed American’s should dismiss any risks.
Yet the headlines bleed fear and panic driving a Black Swan – like response in our country’s markets. No need to list the headlines here as all social media platforms are blown up in red and blinking hysteria and certain dread. The level of incorrect information about this health threat is stunning and willful in most cases. This includes falsely telling Americans their president claims the virus is a hoax!
There is no effort in reporting with a sense of proportion, conscience, accuracy, or perspective. Care to challenge that statement? Did you see any of the network news reports this? Let’s look at the facts:
Wuhan Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Coronavirus in the US ex-King County, WA
Normal seasonal flu in the US
So currently in the US, the current Coronavirus is no worse than normal flu, ex-King County, WA, where there is clearly something special happening. This does not mean precautions and treatment should be ignored, but we do need to put it into context. So does this look like a pandemic at this time to justify global panic? Click here for a realtime chart by Johns Hopkins CSSE.
“WATCH: “The best estimates now of the overall mortality rate for COVID-19 is somewhere between 0.1% and 1%,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at HHS, says. “That’s lower than you heard probably in many reports … it’s not likely in the range of 2 to 3%.”
WATCH: “The best estimates now of the overall mortality rate for COVID-19 is somewhere between 0.1% and 1%,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at HHS, says. “That’s lower than you heard probably in many reports … it’s not likely in the range of 2 to 3%” pic.twitter.com/bAvS7LNWI8
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 6, 2020
Or perhaps perspective telling viewers these stats: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates at least 20,000 deaths this season from influenza. There have been an estimated 34 million flu illnesses so far and 350,000 hospitalizations. Flu activity in the United States is high, but the viruses are not overly severe, according to the CDC. Children and young adults have been most affected this season.”
This time the media achieved behavior modification in a big way. There are runs on food, products, medical supplies, and contagion of doom and gloom in the markets. There will be supply chain disruptions, and the transportation and hospitality sectors will see a drop in consumers hopefully for just a brief period of time. Consider how many times you have observed predictable natural disaster zones citizens not even having water or perishables ahead of common hurricanes. The Democrat candidates, lawmakers, and media are directly using the virus as a cudgel against Trump to influence the 2020 election. The narrative is the Titanic is sinking, and you cannot trust this President to save you or tell you the truth.
They consistently present numbers of contagion cases without denoting those who are on two cruise ships quarantined from those community contracted cases. Preying on the public’s anxiety, their narratives produce and holding viewers hostage. Politicians, pundits, and journalists fear-mongering to obtain a political advantage is not only dangerous but runs the risk of burning out the public’s ability to engage and respond accordingly in the event the country does experience a true pandemic. Reviewing all available information presently, it is less likely COVID-19 will become a once in a century culling. Like past episodes in infectious diseases, we may have more cases, increased deaths in vulnerable populations, and a vaccine will emerge. During H1N1, a thousand deaths occurred before the government even addressed from a public crisis standpoint much less the media.
Watching the news is a psychologically risky pursuit these days, and one should inoculate against feeling overwhelmed and guard against despair. The news does not want you informed, calm, or feeling autonomous. Propaganda is a dangerous tool since it appeals to an individual’s unconscious mind. Choose a broad sampling of information about the virus and heed local and federal health directives. Do your best to separate out a significant problem from the politics that surround it. But most of all, limit the confection. Like drug traffickers, they need you hooked and crawling up the walls for your next fix.
Americans, and the rest of the globe as well, are addicted to social media platforms that deliver stimulation and information on a constant loop. Mainstream media, over the last decade, has blown past simple tenets of providing value to attract advertising and have morphed into a highly effective mechanism for political indoctrination. Today’s Media have become your scintillating neighborhood, dope pusher, and the dope is now FEAR.
The adage. “If it bleeds, It leads,” provided “punch” and eyes to a thirty-minute format, structured around the mission of news outlets, which is to inform the public. Journalists reported on Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, in other words, they reported the news as it happened with the known facts as it unfolds. Issues/opinions were presented in context with the goal of balance and integrity, allowing viewers to form perceptions. Yes, propaganda existed, but only as a share of the overall product being offered. We now all live in a world where 95% or more of what we consume as news is propaganda.
Propaganda “is a form of persuasion that is often used in media to further some sort of agenda, such as a personal, political, or business agenda, by evoking an emotional or obligable response from the audience. … Therefore, propaganda creates conflicts among society’s differing classes.” Edward Bernays coined the term “public relations” as an alternative to the word propaganda in 1928. According to him, “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in a democratic society.”
Recent history reveals our media outlets engage in twenty-four-hour punches. Allow me to hand you a tissue, you might want to blow that bloody nose. Every narrative the “bagman” delivers is designed to elicit intense emotion and conflict. Every story is void of nuance and usually backed with paid “experts” contributing opinions and hearsay versus scientific fact or historical context. Exaggeration, embellishments, complete fabrications are now staples of a segment of the news. The goal of the fear-based model is no longer driven by marketing or rating objectives. The target is to persuade the viewer’s attitudes, beliefs, and, most importantly, behaviors. Just how do they do this?
- Uniformity on messaging across networks and platforms.
- Deceptive editing or taking words out of context.
- Utilizing non-verifiable sourcing as fact.
- Repeating and creating falsehoods as truth.
- Promoting isolated events as trends.
- Depicting categories of people as dangerous and others as saviors.
- Replacing optimism with fatalistic thinking.
- Only reporting on the surface no true analysis or perspective.
- “Breaking News” crawl, the scrolling headline ticker.
- Overload, massive quantities of information – unscripted and unedited,
- “Expert panels” know as, just-add-water reporting, who are not expert and often inaccurate.
The neuroscience behind propaganda and indoctrination is straight forward. Fear is arguably the first emotion man ever experienced. It is firmly ingrained into all living organisms and is fundamental to our survival instinct. Its roots are embedded in our core psychological makeup and are one of our most intimate feelings. Fear is a powerful emotion, and when people are afraid or vulnerable, they react. This response bypasses logic and is primal, much like tribalism is in our DNA nature. History is strewn with examples where human masses reacted and became illogical and manipulated as weapons to sow division, even war. “Never let a crisis go to waste” ideologues know this irrational, mass, groupthink state often serves a specific ideological agenda. Those who comprise most of our current media landscape, identity as progressives and are dogmatic. They feed off of feelings and charged emotions and drown each of their storytelling with extreme lability.
Since President Trump’s election, the media has become void of any moral or ethical commitment to its audience. Across all media platforms, one core value persists. That value is to take every story and promote a narrative most likely to divide, confuse, create conflict, misinform, deflect, and overwhelm. Then once the viewer is gaslighted and emotions like anger, hate, fear, anxiety, sadness, and bewilderment rise, they inject the agenda. America’s media agenda presently is simple. Every narrative is a pitch for viewers to formulate an acutely negative opinion of the President, and all those downstream from him.
Propaganda is most effective when it can change behavior. This bombardment creates heightened anxiety, and psychologically the viewer will feel a fragmented sense of knowing what is real or who to trust, and that creates hopelessness, helplessness, and a desire to be directed or not have accountability for due diligence or self-reliable decision making. There is a reason why media weaponizes news for political agenda … it works!