The "press" and the postal service: Two days ago, on Wednesday afternoon, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made their first joint appearance.
Covid-19 was still a big deal at that point in time. Later that day, American commander in chief Donald Trump held one of his daily "convention speech"/press events.
As always, his stumbling, bumbling, irrational effort was a strange thing to behold. Many claims were flatly false. Others were grossly misleading, At the 33-minute mark of his opening speech, the commander even said this:
TRUMP (8/12/20): As we move forward, the number of cases is not by any means the most important metric to focus on, because the fact is we have more cases because we have far more testing than any country in the world. There’s no country that’s even close.For now, ignore the commander's remark about those "massive outbreaks" in those other, unnamed countries—the countries the press likes to praise.
We’ve done more testing and better testing than any country. And many of these countries that the media was putting up as a shining example of success, they’re right now in massive outbreaks.
You see what’s going on in many of the countries that you constantly mention. Far more important is who the virus is infecting. That’s why our strategy and attention are focused on preventing the cases that are most likely to require hospitalization or result in death. Those that afflict the elderly and those with certain underlying health conditions all the while acting to prevent hospital overcrowding.
If you look at some of the states that had a flare up recently, they’re all doing very well. Florida is going down rapidly. I want to give a lot of credit to the governors. Florida is going down, and Arizona is going down, way down. They’ve done a fantastic job. California, as you know, is going down, and many other locations. It’s doing very well, and many locations are really in fantastic shape, some with very little, if any, problem. Large portions of the United States.
As for this country, large portions of the United States are doing very well, the commander reassuringly said.
So the commander said. But on that very day, as the Washington Post reported, the United States recorded the most coronavirus deaths recorded on any one day since mid-May—since May 14.
So it goes at these strange events, with "journalists" in attendance. Before we think about November's election, consider two questions those journalists asked this day.
After the commander's 36-minute opening statement, he entertained twelve questions. Several questions were utterly pointless. The commander explicitly called on the crackpot site, OAN, for the second question.
Eventually, a masked man who seemed to Ryan Lizza got a chance for an ask. But given a chance to address the commander, why in the world—why on earth—would you ask an open-ended question like this?
REPORTER: Mr. President, since you didn’t see Kamala Harris’s remarks today, I wonder if we could just get you to respond to one thing that she said.What did the commander think of that!
REPORTER: She said that your refusal to get testing up and running, you are—I’m paraphrasing—your flip-flopping on social distancing and masks and your delusional belief that you know better than the experts. All of that, in her words, are reasons that "one American dies of COVID-19 every minute.” What do you think of that?
The commander started with a short criticism of Harris. ("I think that's probably one of the reasons she was a terrible candidate and was forced to leave the race, because she got her facts wrong. She's very bad on facts, she's very weak on facts.")
From there, the obvious happened. The commander launched another monologue about all the great testing we've done.
He'd already given this monologue twice in the course of his endless opening statement. Now, he gave it again.
He rambled on for over two minutes, offering exactly the type of pointless non-answer an open-ended "question" like that will elicit.
Perhaps the reporter had hoped to occasion a rank denigration of Harris. On this occasion, he didn't get it—and moments later, a different reporter actually asked Trump this:
JOURNALIST: You had graphs about economics of COVID, but deaths in America are still going up, whereas in Europe right now, zero deaths in UK, zero deaths in France.Just for starters, bless his heart! This "journalist" seems to have tried!
At long last, a journalist seemed to know how crazy Trump's statements have been—his statements about our vast success with the coronavirus.
This unidentified journalist seemed to know that the United States is, in fact, experiencing a very large number of deaths, while "these countries that the media have been putting up as a shining example of success" have been recording very few.
Finally, a reporter actually tried to challenge the commander's standard riff of self-praise! But alas! Essentially, the journalist presented no useful statistics. Indeed, the statistics he had were just wrong.
The deranged commander had said, once again, that we are doing amazingly well, while the countries the press corps likes to praise were experiencing "massive outbreaks." Using the available data from August 12, a reporter with even minimal competence could have fashioned a question like this:
IMAGINARY REPORTER: I'm wondering if you'll ever be willing to come to terms with the number of deaths in this country from covid-19. In the past week, the United States has experienced just over 8000 coronavirus deaths. Germany and Japan have experienced fewer than 40 such deaths. South Korea has experienced 2.You'd think that someone in that ragtag band would ask some such question at some point, but none of these Potemkins will. On this occasion, the reporter who tried to fashion a challenging question plainly tried and failed:
Eight thousand deaths per week in this country, versus 40 deaths or less! Why do you keep telling the public that the United States is doing so well and that these other countries are now suffering "massive outbreaks?" Is this not a massive deception of the public on your part?
In fact, the U.K. is the covid-19 basket case of Europe, though it's nowhere near as bad as the U.S.
Meanwhile, "zero deaths in UK, zero deaths in France?" In each case, that fuzzy claim is also a fantasy. Where do they find these guys?
At any rate, this is the way these stumblebums snored through Wednesday's convention speech/press event. And uh-oh:
Now we're engaged in a great civil war about a possible war on the post office.
How many people will actually vote this November? Will a whole lot of ballots and votes get lost in the mail, whether coming or going?
Will the lost and disappeared ballots and votes largely come from anti-Trump voters? To what extent is the commander's team trying to make such things happen?
These difficult questions stand between us and our impending status as a new Belarus. The press corps can't control the behaviors in question, but in theory, they do play a role.
Are these stumblebums and propagandists actually up to such a task? Anthropologists say they aren't really sure that the answer is yes.
The guild's script-readers are very strong on the obviously racist and sexist mispronunciation of names. But are these pitiful tribal script-readers actually up to this task?