How did no one ask the question? No one asked themselves in the White House Press Corps or in any major newsroom until days after the projections were made. “What if we don’t see the massive coronavirus death materialize as forecasted by the White House Coronavirus Task Force?”
Let me begin by saying President Trump is doing exactly as any American would hope a president would do in a pandemic. Listening to his best medical and scientific advice. This is a president the left loves to accuse of not listening to science. He and his supporters are regularly called “science deniers.”
Well, there’s no denying this. Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci are driving the discussion inside the White House. Not the economic team. Not the Treasury. Not the private sector. They’re all taking a pounding. They’re not just taking a back seat, they’re bound and gagged in the trunk.
Nope, this is SCIENCE on full display. And the science projected this week 100,000 to 240,000 people would die of coronavirus in the United States. The somber news came as President Trump had to scuttle his plans to reopen the country by Easter, instead creating a new “thirty days to stop the spread” campaign extending until at least April 30th.
With that, cable news began the daily body count graphic over their shoulder like a macabre New Year countdown special. CNN’s Jim Acosta was even nice to the president in the daily briefing, asking non-combative questions. Fairly straight reporting. That HAS to mean a lot of death is coming! Acosta went further, recounting later President Trump appeared scared. NOW it’s real, his tone implied.
But what do we really know now? As I write this, CNN’s body count stands at a bit over 6,000. That’s up 1,000 from yesterday and 2,000 from the day before. To get to 100,000 in three weeks means death on a stunning scale is about to occur in the next 21 days. Will it? I hope not and it’s impossible for me to imagine. But are we allowed to ask – what if it doesn’t?
Let me stop here and stress in no way do I think anyone at the White House is purposely trying to mislead anyone. Nor do I think anyone is wrong to take this virus seriously. The president and his team are doing the best they can, and I think history will be very kind to them given the lies China and the World Health Organization spewed allowing this to spread like wildfire across the globe before we knew the true severity of the disease.
Having said that, modeling has been used as a political weapon for a long time in this country and should be viewed with the same kind of scrutiny we view modeling in everything from economics to weather. Humans design models. Humans are fallible. By now you’ve heard the expression “garbage in, garbage out” to illustrate that very point concerning modeling.
There are appropriate questions we should always ask of folks when they stand before us with models and tell us we must behave or act a certain way or (fill in the horror) will happen if we don’t. We should ask questions like, “Where did you get the data for the basis of your models? What are the variables you considered when constructing this model? Who’s the organization or the financial backer for this model?”
But the media didn’t do that. The president has done as the media and Democrats always demand. He’s listening to his scientists. They want us all in our homes for as long as it takes until they no longer deem it necessary. And even if we do that, they’re still forecasting hundreds of thousands of deaths.
By Thursday night, some mainstream skepticism began to bubble up from a place you’d least expect a challenge to a scientific model. The Washington Post ran an exhaustive piece titled, “Experts and Trump’s advisers doubt White House’s 240,000 coronavirus deaths estimate.”
Ah-oh. What’s this? Science denying from the “Democracy Dies in the Darkness” brigade? Well, maybe not quite that far, yet. But they raise a lot of questions over the projections and the timing, leaving readers to wonder if the death count is overblown. MSNBC’s Morning Joe shared the headline Friday morning and wondered aloud, “Will we even see 100,000 deaths?”
I won’t predict how this ends. I pray there will be as little death and sickness as possible. I hope the projections of death are stunningly overblown. If they are, Donald Trump, Mike Pence and the White House Coronavirus Task Force deserve praise for putting science above all else and moving swiftly to avoid the terrible projections.
Which is why – if I’m going to make a prediction – it will be this. Just as they’ve downplayed, ignored and mocked the undeniable successes of President Trump’s “good feeling” over the efficacy of Hydroxycholorquine – they will refuse to give him credit for defeating this pandemic and winning the war should there be a lower death count than projected.
The media loves death. They want it. They need it. But they seem to be flirting with the idea it may not happen at the rate science projected. Now they’re slowly and quietly laying the groundwork for a ‘Plan B’ should lives be spared.
The only prediction you can make certain to come true – no matter how this ends – is that the mainstream media will work overtime to see to it President Trump is viewed in the worst possible light. But how can you blame him? He’s just listening to the science, right?