The Sunday morning shows were all Ebola all the time. Candy Crowley on CNN spent a good 95 percent of her one-hour show on Ebola, as did Chuck Todd on NBC, George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week, and so on.
What's so duplicitous about the media fervor for Ebola is that as they spend endless hours of programming on who dropped the ball at the CDC, whether we could have had a vaccine right now if the National Institutes of Health budget hadn't been cut, how Republicans are exploiting the issue in the midterm elections, and so on, they caution that the nation is succumbing to scare tactics since only two people in the U.S. have been infected, and they are alive – at least for now.
The media is, of course, central to promoting the fear. But so are the screw-ups of the health professionals at both the Dallas hospital, which allowed the index victim to infect two health workers that we know of and potentially many more, and the CDC, which has clearly failed to mandate proper training across the health care infrastructure. Yet the public is given assurances that everything is under control.
Americans believed things were under control when the original two infected health care workers returned from West Africa and were cured of the dread disease. That trust was broken after Thomas Eric Duncan died, and fear followed incompetence.
If the media wants Americans to stop reacting to irrational fears about Ebola – and they are irrational (for now) – they should look at their daily rundowns and rethink how much time they're giving to a disease that has killed one person in the U.S. And if President Obama wants his new Ebola czar to calm the waters over fear, he should demand a zero tolerance policy of sloppy mistakes regarding this and other lethal viruses.
That's what will help Americans sleep better.
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