The near-total absence of skill: In fairness, it's important to note a basic point. At this point, information and facts barely matter at all.
Basically, everyone believes their own tribe's StoryLines. There's very little real attempt to figure out what's true.
That said, Donald Trump authored a very sad moment during yesterday's press event.
First, Trump shot a man on the White House lawn just to see him die. After he returned to the press room, he launched one of his standard rambling monologues about how amazingly well we're doing with the coronavirus.
Many statements didn't make sense. But at one point, the commander in chief said this:
TRUMP (8/10/20): The United States faces a unique range of challenges that requires our constant vigilance. America has the largest at-risk population of any developed country by far, 1.5 million residents of nursing homes, about five times that of the United Kingdom and other European countries. Our country also has a higher prevalence of underlying conditions that this virus targets."One person is too much as far as I'm concerned," the deeply humane commander in chief immediately said.
Yet we have fewer deaths per capita than the United Kingdom and most other peer nations in Western Europe. So that’s an important—we have fewer deaths per capita than the United Kingdom and most other nations in Western Europe, and heading for even stronger numbers.
But sad! The statement we've highlighted could be scored as correct! Let's consider that statement again:
"We have fewer deaths per capita than the United Kingdom and most other peer nations in Western Europe."
We have fewer deaths per capita? Could that statement be true? Actually, yes, it could be true. It all depends on who you're willing to count as a "peer nation."
Plainly, Trump was considering total deaths from the virus to date. Here are some relevant numbers, adjusted for population:
Total deaths from coronavirus per million population, as of August 11:It all depends on who you want to count as a "peer nation!" Among the obvious, larger "peer
United Kingdom: 685
United States: 504
nations"—skip Belgium, Sweden and the like—we still have ferer deaths per million population than the U.K., Spain and Italy.
We have more deaths per capita than France and Germany. If those are the nations you count as peer nations, that makes Trump's statement correct.
Sad! We're still better off than the U.K., Spain and Italy when it comes to total deaths. But if you use a different, more current, more relevant measure, we're the screaming basket case of the developed world.
We showed you these pitiful data last week. In you consider current deaths, we're the basket case of the world:
Deaths from coronavirus in the last seven days, as of August 11:Those numbers aren't adjusted for population. But even if you make the adjustment, we're the basket case of the developed world when it comes to current deaths.
United States: 8,058
United Kingdom: 316
South Korea: 4
(The U.K. is about one-fifth our population. Germany is about one-fourth, Japan a bit more than one-third. None of these countries comes close to us, not even the U.K., when it comes to current deaths adjusted for population. At present, we're the undisputed train wreck of the developed world, by far.)
Other countries were hit very hard by the virus at first. That's when their total deaths piled up.
Since then, they've gotten matters under control. Our leaderless country of Trumpistan hasn't been able to do that.
We mention this because it matters which statistic you choose. The people who prepared Trump's remarks chose a statistic which makes us look pretty good.
If you use the more current statistic, we're the basket case of the world. But no reporter in that press room will ever challenge Donald J. Trump with that more current statistic.
Simply put, they don't have the chops. As life forms, they lack the skills.
We mention this because of what David Leonhardt did last week. On the front page of the New York Times, he tried to show what a train wreck we are when it comes to the virus.
As we explained last Friday, he chose the wrong statistic to do that! Simply put, our major journalists possess almost no analytical skills.
They're Potemkin journalists in Donald Trump's world. Cam anybody there play this game? The answer is basically no.
Yesterday, after shooting some guy on the lawn, Trump made a defensible yet grossly misleading statement. The overpaid children just sat there and stared.
According to a wide range of experts, it was the best they could do.