THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2020
...show us how dumb it can get: How ridiculous can the "potted plants" be inside our major news orgs?
How utterly lacking can they be in even the most basic skills?
Readers, thank you for asking! This morning, we were shocked by this "Cheat Sheet" report at The Daily Beast:
ROSS (9/17/20): Leaked FEMA Memo Reveals 17 Percent Jump in U.S. COVID Deaths Last Week
A leaked internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has reportedly revealed a near-17 percent spike in coronavirus-related deaths inside the United States last week. ABC News obtained the memo that showed the trend in new deaths has shot way up since the start of September. It said that 5,906 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in the U.S. from Sept. 9-15, which represents a 16.6 percent increase compared with the seven days prior. That figure comes despite 261,204 new cases of COVID-19 being confirmed in the same period, which is a 0.7 percent decrease from the previous week.
Read it at ABC News.
The Beast's link led to this bombshell report over at ABC News.
It's hard to believe, but it's true! ABC News had come up with a leaked "internal memo" from FEMA.
And not only that! Just as The Daily Beast was reporting, this leaked internal memo "said that 5,906 coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in the U.S. from Sept. 9-15!"
Meanwhile, that did "represent a 16.6 percent increase compared with the seven days prior"—or at least we're assuming it did, based on an eyeball assessment. At any rate, ABC News had come up with the leaked internal memo, and The Daily Beast was passing the leaked information on.
There was only one problem with this detective work. The very same numbers are available, on a daily basis, almost everywhere coronavirus news is sold.
For example, you could have seen the same numbers being reported, on a daily basis, under the heading "New deaths reported per day" at the Washington Post's coronavirus site.
News flash! Daily deaths from Covid-19 aren't exactly a government secret! Sadly but unsurprisingly, journalists at ABC News and The Daily Beast seemed to be unaware of this fact.
They seemed to think that they'd sniffed out some hidden, top-secret statistics. Meanwhile, concerning that 16.6 percent increase in deaths, let us offer a small minor warning:
Daily deaths may be on the rise as the fall season begins. The University of Washington's IHME site is predicting a substantial increase in daily and weekly coronavirus deaths between now and the end of the year.
That said, the week of Wednesday, September 9 through Tuesday, September 15 immediately followed the three-day Labor Day weekend. And three-day holiday weekends almost always produce a short-term distortion in the official recording of deaths.
The official recording of deaths will typically drop over a three-day weekend. People continue to die, but the fact of their deaths may not be instantly recorded.
Typically, this will produce artificially low numbers of deaths on the Sunday and Monday of the holiday weekend, but also on the following Tuesday. Typically, this also produces artificially high numbers of recorded deaths during the next few days, starting with the Wednesday after the holiday weekend.
This creates an artificial blip in the recorded number of deaths. The number of deaths is artificially reduced in the week which includes the holiday weekend. The number is artificially increased for the week which follows.
You can see that pattern in the Post's recording of daily deaths for the days in question last week. That said, there's zero chance that an American journalist would ever know something like this.
As we've told you again and again, American journalists are devoted to the proposition that all significant sets of statistics should studiously be avoided. That's why our journalists are unable to talk about test score gains ot health care costs or about anything else where numbers are involved.
American journalists will rarely know squat or squadoosh about the patterns which exist within any set of important statistics. Even so, we had to laugh when ABC News came up with the secret data in that "leaked internal memo."
The data found in that leaked memo were sitting right there at the Washington Post! A person could see those very same data wherever virus news is sold.
Someone over at ABC News just plain didn't know that. At The Beast, they seemed to think that ABC News had come up with a scoop.
It was foolishness all the way down. This is part of the know-nothing culture at major news orgs to which we sometimes allude.
Donald J. Trump is in the White House. He's critiqued by our major news orgs. As a nation, we're condemned to go to war with a nutcase with the news orgs we have.
Tomorrow morning: Leonhardt and Douthat do deaths