In COVID-19, media finally found an alternative clickbait to Trump with a better click-through rate. Look at the Guardian, one of our best daily newspapers. Two-thirds of its headline articles are rehashed coronavirus fear-porn. Covering every angle? Not at all. Articles exploring the glaring divergence of infections to deaths ratio versus the first half of 2020? Needles in a haystack.

I’m not trying to downplay coronavirus. I wear a mask in shops and on public transport.
But governments, competent or cavalier, left-wing or right, are singularly susceptible to the currents of perceived public opinion. I’ve a feeling most of their time is being spent in a state of busy confusion, reacting to the day’s media shock vectors, planning damage limitation, buck passing, flip flopping; half of them directing civil servants to simplify threat level systems, the other half over-complicating regional authority responses…

We shouldn’t excuse the government’s failure to organize a coherent response, but the new factor here isn’t Conservative grift. It’s media’s voluntary subordination to profiting from COVID-19, whatever harm it does to the country’s well-being. Media is relentlessly saturating public discourse in coronavirus shock, fear, anger, despair, anything that keeps the clicks baited and the virus ascendant in the national psyche. Small wonder it’s becoming a mental health crisis.

Sadly, I’ve little hope for improvement in this dysfunctional dynamic. Media needs profit. Most news outlets would be out of business by now were it not for Trump and coronavirus; and COVID-19 is a better bet for their business’s future. Trump may be off stage in 2021 whereas they can exploit coronavirus for at least a couple more years. What’s more, I don’t see government trying to regulate (censor) press coverage, however much it’s damaging society. It’s too much rope to hang themselves with.

Meanwhile, we wait for a vaccine, or a paradigm shift in mass psychology… or better clickbait. Alien invasion might do it? The US tried with the released UFO footage, but it barely rated a mention in the news feeds. Coronavirus is simply unparalleled, omnipolitical, too relatable and too fit for purpose.

I’m not seeing things getting better anytime soon. Did you know – the latest TV adaptation of the novel “Brave New World” was released on cable this month? Haven’t watched the show, but it got me thinking: Huxley’s dystopian vision looks positively appealing next to the bleak, antisocial “Scared New World” we’ve allowed the media and the government to create.

Let’s call a spade a spade. Entire countries are in lockdown, psychologically. It hardly matters which Coronavirus Threat Level Indicator color Andrew Cuomo (New York) or Boris Johnson (United Kingdom) or Gavin Newsom (California) select for the week ahead. The ‘threat’ level reflects government agenda parsing public opinion into political expedience; and as public opinion is cherry-picked – for amplification – by self-serving media outlets chasing clickbait revenue, not critical science results, this bullshit could go on for years.


Dear Health Authority,

Good evening. I’m trying to gather up-to-date, ongoing figures for Coronavirus impact on healthcare capacity.

Tracking site figures are useful but including hospital admissions without also including hospital discharges, ICU inbound without listing ICU outbound, and no counter for used/available hospital beds (overnight, ventilator equipped) by region, make it impossible to get an impression of the increasing (or decrease in) burden coronavirus is placing on hospital capacity.

I can’t see any good reason for publishing only half the relevant data. It’s a missed opportunity to give out a few salient numbers that’d push back against the public not following prescribed measures while also helping stem the tide of undirected fear and confusion, particularly given the relentless media clickbaiting and haphazard govt / local response.

Are you able to point me to a site or service with data on COVID-19 discharges or day to day bed capacity (used/available)? Or if there’s no central site, any advice how to source these figures short of having to call/visit every hospital in the country would be much appreciated.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,
B. Green


Media is a big problem. They’re using coronavirus fear-porn for clickbait, no care for how much it’s screwing with people’s heads. It won’t get better after the election if Biden wins (despite what some predict) because Trump is the other big clickbait. Media will double down on coronavirus to make up for lack of Trump.

“Consider: current coronavirus numbers across the US and Europe show increasing daily infections but death rates are virtually nil. Yet media is all over infection numbers. Fear-porn. You’re next. Panic. Stay home. Submit to lockdown. Spy on your neighbors. Police each other’s conformity. Meanwhile, the healthcare services are coping.

Surely the most useful numbers would be hospital admissions, discharges and capacity. These have being deliberately omitted from the start, perhaps because it’d actually reveal how little danger there is of the hospitals being overwhelmed. What a crock.

There needs to be consistent pressure on politicians, so they know they’re going to be held accountable.

Accountable for incompetent organizing against the spread of the virus – which has been woeful. Accountable for the gross abuse of hundreds of millions of citizens’ freedom (lockdown). Accountable for the destruction of millions of private businesses (closures).

The preening ruler class will continue to play fast and loose with the lives of the very people they’re supposed to represent. Until enough of those people grow a pair and use their votes to hold these complacent politicians accountable.


NINE MONTHS AGO, NEWS MEDIA BEGAN THE BUSINESS OF CORONAVIRUS AND, AS 2021 APPROACHES, VIRUS FEAR-PORN HAS TRAPPED US IN A GROUNDHOG DAY OF CLICKBAIT HEADLINES, MISDIRECTION ARTICLES AND OPAQUE CHERRY-PICKED DATA DESIGNED TO CONFUSE.

We are being treated like suckers by the news media.  Their only interest is serving the clickbait business model. Fear-porn headlines and confusing, self-important articles that never make progress and never build context. Throw it all in the metaphorical trash.

Consider. Increased infection figures are proclaimed across the board but deaths not rising is rarely mentioned. We’re threatened with hospitals being overrun if everyone doesn’t put on a mask and get into the foetal position to wait for orders. But where are the figures for hospital admissions? How much capacity is actually being used? What are the trends? What percentage of hospital beds are ICU, how full are they region to region? Why do we never hear about recovery numbers or hospital discharges?

For wealthy public figures to criticize the public for not following the latest arbitrary limits on their freedom – without even giving simple numbers that would show why and where restrictions were needed – is the arrogant abuse of power we’d expect from tin pot dictatorships. It calls into question the honesty of politicians. It’s good reason to demand a different standard of communication – on penalty of being voted out next election; and zero cooperation in the meantime. ✊🏻

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