Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Clearing the Air


You no doubt remember last month's ridiculously over-hyped tuberculosis scare -- the one that had an already skittish America suddenly expected to trade in its surplus duct tape for one of those fashionable duck-billed surgical masks.

Well, it turns out it was all a big misunderstanding and, as such, the nation's Wanton Panic Alert Level has now been lowered to "Burnt Umber."

The Centers for Disease Control had apparently misdiagnosed intrepid world traveler Andrew Speaker from the very beginning, tagging him with the leper-like label of "Highly Feared, Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis Carrier," when in fact he merely suffers from the plain old, perfectly treatable brand of TB.

The mistake was uncovered by the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, which only proves that when it comes to knowing how to spot a hypochondriac, leave it to someone who grew up with a Jewish mother.

Last night, Speaker and his wife -- the apparent president-for-life of Atlanta's Junior League chapter as well as living proof that Dress Barn does, in fact, have an excellent selection of sweater sets -- appeared live on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360. They decried the CDC's initial diagnosis, saying that the center unnecessarily "created a huge international panic," and "scared millions of people around the world."

Except that it didn't.

True, the CDC made one very large mistake -- but it was the fear-mongering media that turned what, even in its original, incorrect form was always little more than a mild curiosity into a potentially apocalyptic spectacle that inundated the nightly news and daily papers for days on end, running the news cycle down until there was nothing left but bare rims and grinded gears.

As usual, Americans didn't even have the opportunity to turn to the Fourth Estate for calm, even-handed information before the Fourth Estate turned on them -- overwhelming the public with every kind of hyped-up and orgiastically delivered scare tactic in its considerable arsenal.

Speaker is asking for an apology from the CDC; he'll likely get it.

As for the American public getting one from the media?

Don't hold your breath.

8 comments:

Lily's Mommy said...

I wasn't even remotely scared. I rarely watch tv and when I do it's kids shows on PBS. As a sleep-deprived mother of an 8 month old baby, I rarely have the brain function to leave the house. So suck that media! Hermit powers unite! umm De-unite! Un-unite! Sigh. You get the idea.

namron said...

Why don't you print out this post and super glue it to Miss-Very Cute-Funny Named Anchor Lady's forehead so all of her audience can read it?

jimmy said...

Nope. Still pissed about this guy getting thru security. Traveling with TB still a big no-no.

Chez said...

That's one story. One simple story. "How did this person get through security?"

That's not hours and days of panic-stricken pandemonium -- and if the presence of a "pattern of behavior" helps you to put it all together in your head, just think of the wholly unnecessary bullshit crises over SARS and the Bird Flu.

nxu said...

I'm very disappointed that I completely missed out on being part of this alleged Huge International Panic. No doubt this is due to poor media coverage of this incident in my dear home country. Damn it, I need something IMPORTANT to worry about instead of the mundane rubbish I have to worry about in daily life!

rasaustin said...

Don't you work for the fear-mongering media?

Chez said...

I assume you're at least bright enough to be able to read my profile -- so why answer that?

I do my best to change what we do from the inside. Occasionally I'm successful -- more often, I'm not.

Regardless, unless you feel like paying my rent, I need to continue to draw a salary until the writing starts to pay off.

Any more astute observations Captain Obvious?

Special K said...

While Speaker may get an appology from the CDC he's still getting his ass sued by the people he put at risk by travelling when under restriction. I'm actually looking forward to him learning a little about the legal system in Quebec where the suit was filed...hehe...they love Americans so much there.