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Should the Media be Shut Down Too? By James Reed
It is not all bad; I am delighted by what this present bug crisis has done to the evil universities, who still exist, but are largely on-line, where they have minimal mischief, largely chattering amongst themselves. Why, academics were so scared for their lungs, that students could not believe how fast they ran to their homes to lock down with their bottles of fine wine. Anyway, let’s move on to closing down the mainstream media now for even more peace.
“"You're actually sitting too close," President Trump remarked at a press briefing. "Really, we should probably get rid of about 75, 80 percent of you.” Trump was only partly joking. The White House Correspondents Association had asked its members to sit one seat apart at press briefings, but at a time when most businesses have been shut down even when they offer far more space to customers and employees, the sight of crowded press briefings is still surreally hypocritical. Governor Jared Polis delivered his press briefing on social distancing surrounded by a huddle of other Colorado officials, including a sign language translator, and tightly packed reporters facing him. That’s not unusual. Governors and mayors have announced the shutdown of countless businesses for the sake of social distancing in the same format that is the opposite of social distancing. The exemption for the media from coronavirus rules extends beyond these strange scenes. When Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an order effectively shutting down most New York non-essential businesses, the list of essential organizations exempted from the order included hospitals, power plants, pharmacies, farms, banks, supermarkets, and the media. One of these items is not like the others. The essential businesses provide necessary services that allow people to function.
That’s not the media. The question of what is an “essential business” is the difference between employment or unemployment, staying in business or going bankrupt, for millions of Americans. It’s a weighty financial and moral question that the media has entirely evaded by cutting in line and relying on its privilege. A generation ago it might have been argued that the media provides important updates, but in the age of Twitter and handheld access to any website, the idea that the public is dependent on the media to stay informed about coronavirus health and safety information, or any other emergency issue, is silly. If the authorities really need to alert the percentage of the population that uses radio and television, but not the internet, there’s always the Emergency Broadcasting System. Forget the press conferences: those are bad enough and ought to go the way of phrenology and the buggy whip. But much of what the media does is either whip up panic from its offices or dispatch reporters to interview people. None of that accords with the requirements of social distancing. When movie and television productions have been shut down because they’re an unsafe environment, why is crowding talking heads behind a desk and twenty times their number of crew into a studio okay? Why is dispatching reporters to stick microphones in front of senior citizens at a Trader Joe’s or the emergency room of a hospital considered healthy or safe, rather than a public health hazard?”
All excellent points. We would be much better off without the mainstream media pumping out its nonsense for a time. It would give us all a chance for our nerves to recover! Or, to vary the metaphor, it would be like escaping from a smoke filled room out into the fresh night air.