Can anyone here play this game?: Last evening, starting at 8 PM Eastern, we watched as the angriest dog in the world continued to bite, snap and growl.
Needless to say, his trademark sarcasm was on full display as he rushed out into the yard:
COOPER (7/8/20): Good evening. We are in a good place with this pandemic. A good place. We've done a good job.For some unknown reason, the angriest dog didn't believe it when he first heard those words.
How does that sound to you? Does that sound like reality, that we're in a good place?
Because those are the words of the president of the United States today, even as the numbers, and his own experts, scientists with decades of experience, say otherwise.
The president says we are in a good place with the pandemic. Those are his actual words. I didn't actually believe it when I first heard it, but it's on tape.
As we've noted, it's an eternal groundhog day with these cable news stars. For performative reasons, or perhaps from sheer dumbness, they're "shocked, shocked" every time the president opens his mouth.
Luckily, we have the words of the president's experts to let us know what's true. But before he played tape of what Fauci had said, the angriest dog played tape of the disordered commander himself:
COOPER (continuing directly): He was asked by Greta Van Susteren about Dr. Anthony Fauci's assessment that the country is still, quote, "knee-deep" in the first wave of coronavirus. Here is what he said.This angriest, possibly laziest dog runs on pure sarcasm now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him. We have done a good job. I think we're actually—we are going to be in two, three, four weeks. By the time we next speak, I think we're going to be in very good shape.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So this is a good place to be in a pandemic, in case you were wondering. And soon we'll be in very, very good shape, he said.
Just to refresh you, Van Susteren served as the president's principal caddie during the years when he was establishing himself as the nation's leading birther.
In those days, Van Susteren had a nightly show at Fox. For years, she hosted pre-candidate Donald J. Trump as he spewed his birther tales.
(In 2017, Van Sustern got hired away by MSNBC. When that happened, Rachel Maddow aggressively vouched for Van Susteren's journalistic greatness, even saying that she and Van Susteren had been drinking buddies during those birther-rich years. This is the way these peculiar people play this peculiar game.)
Back to the angriest dog, tugging last night on his chain:
The angriest dog now played tape of the president's latest remarks. Rachel's pal was back in the saddle, assisting The Donald again.
The dog was shocked by Trump's crazy remarks, as he is every night. Soon he was lunging at Diamond and Silk, and playing tape of the expert we all can trust:
COOPER (continuing directly): The president spoke of Florida and California, states that became in his words, hot, but even there, he said, quote, "We're going to be very good, very soon."The angriest dog then played tape of Pence and Birx. They cited the rising number of cases in, they said, nine states.
The same president who told Diamond and Silk that the virus would miraculously disappear by April, the one that keeps saying we have the best testing.
Keeping them honest, it is remarkable how sunny things can look from inside a biological bunker at the White House where everyone has to wear masks around you and get tested just to come in contact with you.
It's a bunker so secure, apparently, not even the sound of your own leading experts can penetrate it. The president says we're in a good place. Dr. Anthony Fauci said just this yesterday:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAUCI: The current state is really not good in the sense that, as you know, we have been in a situation where we were averaging about 20,000 new cases a day.
Two days ago, it was at 57,500. So within a period of a week and a half, we've almost doubled the number of cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So of course, the president doesn't have to take it from the nation's most trusted infectious disease expert. He could listen to other top members of his own virtually invisible Coronavirus Task Force...
It never occurred to the angriest dog to fact-check Fauci's statement. It seemed to us that his statement might be incorrect, and so we decided to do so.
We knew we were engaged in a Thought Crime. But something convinced us to act!
"Within a period of a week and a half, we've almost doubled the number of cases," the president's top expert had said.
He made the statement on Monday, July 6. The latest numbers available were those from Sunday, July 5.
A week and a half is like ten days, though some might call it eleven. Below, you see the number of (reported/confirmed) cases over a ten-day stretch as of the time Fauci spoke:
New reported cases per day, nationwide:Here and in what follows, we're using the Washington Post's numbers for cases and for deaths.
June 25: 39,332
June 26: 45,767
July 4: 51,151
July 5: 43,347
Had the number "almost doubled?" Even though we're flirting with "the weekend game" (see below), we're going to say that it hadn't!
In fairness to Fauci, the rolling 7-day average had, in fact, risen by 48% from June 25 through July 5. Because formal reporting of cases and deaths typically drops over a weekend, this is the only sensible way to present such comparisons.
You can't cherry-pick individual days, as it might be said that Fauci did. You have to give 7-day averages.
Over that week and a half, the rolling 7-day average had risen by 48%. Clearly, that's a substantial rise. But had the number "almost doubled?"
Saying that was a bit of a stretch, or so they'll tell viewers on Fox.
Here's something else that ought to be said. "Cases" is a very shaky statistic.
Remember—we aren't talking about the total number of actual cases. (According to the CDC, the total number of actual cases may be ten times as high.) We're speaking here about the number of (reported/confirmed) cases.
We're talking about the number of infections (cases) which have been diagnosed (confirmed) by an actual test. That makes this a very shaky statistic. Here are some reasons why:
"Cases" turns on the amount of testing which is being conducted. Donald J. Trump has performed like a clown when discussing this basic idea, amazing Cooper every time, but the basic idea is sound:
To the extent that you conduct more tests, you will record more "cases." With that in mind, we can make these provisional statements about the recent increase in (confirmed) cases:
To some extent, the increase in "cases" may reflect an increase in the amount of testing being conducted.
To some extent, the increase in "cases" is being tamped down every day as municipalities and states run out of test kits. Some of the people who had to go home would have tested positive.
To some extent, the increase in "cases" is being affected as publicity in certain states induces more people to go out and get themselves tested. These are all factors in the creation of this statistic—a statistic which is rather shaky.
To what extent might the recent increase in "cases" reflect an increase in the amount of testing being done? In a better world, multimillionaire TV stars would help us understand such points.
In our world, angry dogs go all sarcastic as soon as they enter the yard. They're all about their visible anger, and they're all about storyline.
Often, they don't seem to have the slightest idea how to deal with even the most basic statistics. Last night, for example, the angriest dog was soon barking this, just before he introduced additional videotape:
COOPER: Even as new modeling from the University of Washington today forecast more than 208,000 people in this country may be dead of COVID-19 by Election Day, which the President still does not seem to think is all that bad. Because he is still repeating the same falsehoods as ever about testing and mortality, which fell for a while, but is once again sadly sickeningly ticking up.Say what? Is "mortality" once again "ticking up?"
Within the context of cable news, "mortality" is a somewhat imprecise term. In this longer clip, the angry dog makes his meaning perfectly clear, and performs a dumb self-indictment:
COOPER: [The president] is still repeating the same falsehoods as ever about testing and mortality, which fell for a while, but is once again sadly, sickeningly ticking up."More than 600 fatalities today, compared to about 250 a day over the weekend!" Has this endlessly furious person ever spent any time reviewing these data at all?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Therefore we have more cases. Because we're doing more testing, we have more cases. If we did half the testing, we'd have far fewer cases, but people don't view it that way.
What they have to view, though, is if you look at the chart and maybe Mike has it, but we looked at it before, if you look at the chart of deaths, deaths are way down.
So what we want to do is we want to get our schools open. We want to get them open quickly, beautifully in the fall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Dr. Fauci calls the mortality claims, quote, "a false narrative."
In any case, those numbers, they have begun rising again. More than 600 fatalities today, compared to about 250 a day over the weekend.
For starters, here are the actual numbers over the past four days. The angry dog didn't seem to know that he was reporting an incomplete count of yesterday's (recorded) deaths:
Deaths by coronavirus, nationwide:Yesterday's actual number was much higher than the number the angriest dog reported.
July 4: 289
July 5: 217
July 6: 221
July 7: 929
That said, those numbers don't necessarily mean that deaths are "once again...ticking up." That may happen, but official reporting always drops over a weekend, with the numbers jumping up again at the start of the work week. This may be especially true over a holiday weekend.
Have deaths begun ticking up again? As of this morning, the 7-day rolling average of deaths stands exactly where it stood before the holiday weekend began. The average may start rising from here, but that hasn't happened yet.
So far, no uptick in deaths has occurred, unless you're cherry-picking. The angriest dog, and his brain-damaged staff, didn't seem to have the first freaking idea about these basic statistics.
Two Sundays ago, Hugh Hewitt made an absurd misstatement on Meet the Press. (During the show, his groaner went uncorrected.) The mistake was so jaw-droppingly stupid that it became obvious that Hewitt has never spent even five minutes thinking about these basic pandemic statistics.
Last week, Chris Hayes made several very strange presentations on the air. This afternoon, we'll finish our report on that topic. For now, consider the angriest dog in the world:
Assuming he wasn't simply lying during his angry performance last night, it seems that Cooper has no idea how these death-by-coronavirus statistics work. Presumably, he spends the bulk of his off-camera time in wardrobe, makeup and hair, and in workshops to help him master his angriest dog theatrics.
Simply put, you can't put your faith in the "discussions" you see on TV. More to the point, you can't put your faith in the people who conduct these "discussions"—in the Coopers, or in the Van Susterens, or even in their drinking pals.
How much are they paid to clown in such ways? You aren't permitted to know that.
This afternoon: A very strange pair of corrections
Tomorrow: "Discussing" public schools
Friday: "Discussing" police shootings