Bernie’s Q&A: Jordan, Pelosi, Krauthammer, Cuomo, and more! (5/22) — Premium Interactive ($4 members)
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Now, let’s get to your questions (and my answers):
Like you, I aim to be both conservative and objective. I've tried to make sense of this nonsensical political divide during a pandemic that doesn’t discriminate by party affiliation. I’m trying to understand the situation from each side’s worldview, so here’s my take: Conservatives believe in the rights and efficacy of individuals and local officials to assess their own risks, govern their own behaviors, and make their own health decisions. They are distrustful of elitists in government and media who have their own agendas in harshly dictating the public and private actions of a free citizenry. Liberals, on the other hand, believe that experts in science and public policy are best able to coordinate a nationwide effort to control a deadly pandemic. They are distrustful of individuals making their own decisions that can have deadly effects on the public at large, as they are equally appalled at the thought of taking direction from an incompetent, corrupt President who ignores science and common sense at his whim. Fair assessment? -- Steve R.
Totally and completely fair, Steve. I think you nailed it. And you might want to listen (again) to my Off the Cuff this week which deals with this subject. Apparently great minds really do think alike.
I noticed that the new Pelosi $3T sweepstakes would extend the unemployment insurance bonanza through the end of the year. I also read some comments in WSJ from a fellow in Va that when he and others went to get a haircut the barbers were staying home since they made more via unemployment than working. Query when Granny Nancy and AOC wake up and figure out there are consequences to giving people incentives not to work and if we will see the worm turn with the Democrats ( if in power) then forcing people to work ( doing whatever our overlords deem most "essential."). As the expression goes in Texas, we may be "fixin" to find out if George Orwell is THE prophet of our era. -- Michael F.
Nancy Pelosi doesn't care if people make more by NOT working. She's hoping they'll thank her and her party in November for the extra pay. As for how all this will play out on November 3 ... too early to tell. Orwell chronicled absurdity as well as anyone. He'd have plenty to write about today.
Bernie, did you have a chance to watch any of the Michael Jordan "Last Dance" documentary on ESPN? If you have, I was wondering what your thoughts were on Obama's interview during the show. The former President seemed to be upset that Michael Jordan was not (and still is not) more of an activist that took up some of the liberal causes Leftist promote. I think Obama's position is short sighted and sad because it overlooks the fact that Michael Jordan was one of the great uniting forces in history. Jordan was so talented in his craft that everyone, of every race, and every nation, who stepped on to the court wanted, "to be like Mike." Jordan's greatness transcended race and it is disappointing to see Obama claim that Jordan could have done more when in reality, Jordan's greatness was something we all marveled and rallied around (except maybe Pistons fans). -- Joe M.
Let's say that reasonable people may disagree. Sometimes athletes, because of their high profile and influence, need to take up important causes. Here's a behind the scenes story: A friend of mine was making a movie based on a book about inner city kids and what basketball meant to them. It was about a culture of poverty and violence in the inner city and how basketball was a way out. It was a serious book and would be a serious movie. Michael Jordan was supposed to star in it. But he backed out and wound up making a cartoon movie. Your points are well taken but Ali stepped up, Billie Jean King stepped up, Arthur Ashe stepped up -- they all spoke out about important American causes. Not Mike. That's his choice, of course. And that's why I say that reasonable people may disagree.
Brit Hume has been saying on Twitter today that it is an "unproven hypothesis" that kids can spread COVID-19 to adults, and that we shouldn't have closed schools over these past few weeks for COVID-19, because we didn't close them for chickenpox and rubella outbreaks in the past.
In reality, kids can absolutely spread COVID-19 to adults (any human can), and chickenpox and rubella mostly result in skin infections. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were never in danger of dying from these chickenpox and rubella, or even requiring hospitalization. Are you surprised by how many national news-media figures on both sides of the aisle seem to have completely lost their sense of perspective on serious issues? -- Ben G.
I'm not surprised, Ben, because all sorts of "pundits" think they know more than they actually know. Full disclosure: I'm a big fan of Brit Hume. But here's the dirty little secret about the very nature of journalism: People who report in print, on TV, and online aren't Renaissance men and women. Are we supposed to really believe that they're experts on matters of the the economy, religion, the military, farming -- and a virus that nobody ever heard of just a few months ago? Journalists are supposed to talk to people who know what's going on and then report what they've learned. But given today's media landscape where opinion is far more provocative than mere facts, we're going to get all sorts of journalistic opinion masquerading as expertise.
Mr. G, Let’s talk about our hometown. When will the New York press start turning on Cuomo and Deblasio over the horrific job they’ve done handling the virus? They were both late in the game, they both panicked and whined, they both miss managed and made deadly decisions, they both grossly under utilized federal assistance that they begged for. Now they both want non-New York taxpayers to pay for their misgivings and miss management of New York city and state. The New York press of the the 60’s & 70's would have skewered both of these guys straight out of office. So what gives? -- ScottyG from Queens
You just asked an excellent question, Scotty -- one that's also been bothering me. Let's keep this discussion to the virus. Andrew Cuomo is being portrayed by much of the (liberal) media as a hero. But as you correctly point out, he and the mayor of New York were late to the game and many people died because of the decisions they made. If Donald Trump were governor of New York they'd be calling for his head. Here's what I think: Because he's a liberal Democrat -- and Donald Trump isn't -- they've chosen sides: Attack the president for his bad calls -- and ignore Cuomo's. One more reason the media have lost so much credibility.
You recently wrote about how much journalism has changed since you wrote "Bias." Your previous position was that Dan Rather and the New York Times staff and their ilk were simply living in a liberal bubble & so as far as they were concerned, THEIR opinions were reasonable, informed & central thinking (unlike those conservative rubes). You point out now that The current climate among journalists & news editors is that Now they don’t even make the slightest effort to hide their biases and agenda. So...what do you think caused them all to blatantly start admitting to it? What changed in the past two decades that gave them the gall to actively and shamelessly push their agenda openly. For that matter, why do they continue to do it despite constantly having egg on their faces after they are shown to have pushed false narratives in debunked stories like the Jussie Smollett hoax, the Covington Catholic School debacle, and of course Russiagate? These aren’t stupid people; don’t they feel any shame or humiliation or even the slightest bit of embarrassment after being shown up by those “evil conservatives” and their leaders? And If not then why do you think they don’t, even after being debunked more than once? -- “Curses! Foiled Again!” Regards from The Emperor
Good one, Your Highness. I don't think I said they admit their biases -- just that they don't try to hide them anymore. It's a complicated question but here's something to chew on: They hated W because they thought he was an idiot. They loved Obama because he was a lefty just like them and a person of color to boot. And now they detest Trump. So for the last three presidents they either hated or loved each of them which greased the skids for their move to the left. Also, cable -- as I've said before -- wasn't about journalism, it was about business. So we got more blatant opinion than in pre-cable days. One more thing: As newsrooms became more diverse, they also became more liberal. Hiring more minorities and women was a good thing. But those groups, by and large, weren't composed of conservatives. If I go on any further, I'd be writing Chapter 1 in a book -- Bias 20 years later -- and I'm not doing that, Sir Emperor.
Bernie, Do you think we'll ever see another Charles Krauthammer as a regular fixture on cable news? By that I mean someone who has a passion for (and is incredibly well informed on) complex issues, calls out the nonsense on both sides, and puts forth thoughtful and serious commentary instead of just adding fuel to the partisan culture war? Or do you think we'll just see more people in the mold of Brian Stelter and Jesse Watters, who just turn every story into an attack on the other side? -- Arthur C.
No on another Krauthammer ... yes on more jerks like Stelters and Watters.
I hope I'm wrong, Arthur, but cable thrives on conflict. It needs contributors to pour gasoline on the fire. CNN and MSNBC won't tolerate a liberal who every now and then embraces a conservative position. And Fox is just as bad. It doesn't want conservatives around who see the other guy's point of view. Why? It's bad for business. And they don't call it the news business for nothing.
(Editor's note: the below question was quite long, so it has been shortened):
The CDC tracks the total number of weekly deaths from all causes in this country (COVID-19, heart attacks, suicides, auto accidents, etc.). Here's what they've reported from February 1st through May 9th. The cumulative reported deaths are 101% of what the CDC considers to be 'normal' (based on 2017-2019 data). In other words, COVID-19 has increased the overall mortality rate in the country by 1%.
A 1% change seems statistically insignificant to me. So despite 60,000+ COVID-19 deaths in their data (7% of all deaths), the overall death rate is 'normal'. Also, deaths from auto accidents and suicides are actually up (fewer people are on the road, but more people are driving like maniacs). Suicides are up presumably up too.
So what gives? Deaths from other causes like heart attacks, cancer, etc. are apparently down and deaths attributed to COVID-19 don't represent incrementally + deaths as is suggested by all of the media hype and the politicians. Does that mean COVID-19 has been a 'cure' for other ailments? And for a statistically insignificant 1% increase in overall deaths, we've put the economy into the biggest contraction on record?
I'm not saying that COVID-19 isn't serious, but we've gone through other more serious pandemics (1918, 1957, and 1968) that, adjusted for population growth, were far more deadly than COVID-19 but we didn't shut the country down. Thanks and best regards! -- David B.
First, I understand why you think 1% is "statistically insignificant" but I think we can agree that it's not insignificant to the people who make up that 1% and their loved ones.
That said, here's a piece from National Review on this subject (with some important perspective) that you might find interesting. It includes the stat that COVID-19 killed more Americans in one month than the flu does in a year.
And because I can't do your question justice -- it's just not something I know a lot about -- I'm turning the rest of the answer over to the brilliant Mr. John Daly, who follows this stuff more closely:
Hi David. I see where you're coming from, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
1) Our country saw less than 100 total deaths from COVID-19 in the first 7 weeks of that 14 week date range you're referring to, thus that cumulative 101% figure is a bit skewed in regard to the true impact of the coronavirus. It wasn't until the third week of March that the death numbers began skyrocketing. That's when we went from 51 deaths in one week, to over 500 new deaths the following week. The week after that, it was nearly 3,000 new deaths, then 9,000, then over 14,000. In mid April, we were up over 130% of expected deaths for that week.
2) A very large percentage of these deaths (the CDC page stated 60k, but we're close to 100k now) came after we had begun shutting things down and practicing extreme social distancing. In other words, if we hadn't done those things, our death numbers would assuredly be much higher than they are now.
3) Lastly, the CDC does revise its reported numbers as more data comes in from medical facilities across the country. So the most recently reported figures (roughly two weeks worth) do go up. And if you check back on that same date range now, you'll see they indeed did.
None of this is to say that we shouldn't now be (cautiously) re-opening the economy. I personally think we should (my state — Colorado — started it a couple weeks ago). As you stated, the economic impact is devastating. The spread of the coronavirus isn't growing exponentially like it was a few weeks ago, and that's a result of a lot of distancing. With serious (but pragmatic) guidelines, I think this can be done relatively safely. And if some areas start seeing spikes again, as a result, they'll probably have to reconsider some things.
Thanks, everyone! You can send me questions for next week using the form below! You can also read previous Q&A sessions by clicking here.