FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2021
Our own "cable news" in action: On September 1, prominent podcaster Joe Rogan announced that he had Covid.
He also announced what we has doing about it. "We immediately threw the kitchen sink at it," he said by way of Instagram. "All kinds of meds—monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, Z-pack, prednisone, everything." He mentioned a few other treatments.
As many people have heard, the FDA advises against the use of ivermectin for Covid. On the other hand, ivermectin is used to treat several conditions in human patients, and some doctors continue to prescribe it for use against Covid.
Rogan has said that he was using ivermectin as prescribed by a doctor. We know of no reason to think that isn't true.
That's the basic story on Rogan. Let's proceed to the story on CNN, as reported by the Washington Post's Eric Wemple:
How did CNN handle this particular matter? According to Wemple, CNN's assembly of jugglers and clowns fell to work putting their thumbs on the scale:
WEMPLE (10/21/21): On Sept. 1, CNN host Erin Burnett said: “Controversial podcast host Joe Rogan, who’s railed against vaccine requirements, says he has covid and took a drug intended for livestock.” She articulated similar descriptions two additional times before interviewing a doctor and noting that the drug is prescribed for people as well.
The same day, CNN host Anderson Cooper said, “One of those drugs he mentioned, ivermectin, is something more often used to deworm horses.” On that same show, CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter said, “When you have a horse deworming medication that’s discouraged by the government that actually causes some people in this crazy environment we’re in to actually want to try it. That’s the upside down where we’re in with figures like Joe Rogan.” Leana S. Wen—also a Post contributing columnist—later added the critical context that the drug “is used in humans for things like parasites and scabies.”
Also that day, host Don Lemon said, “The United States is now averaging 160,455 new covid-19 cases every day, including controversial podcast host Joe Rogan saying that he tested positive for covid and that he says he is taking several medications including a drug meant for deworming livestock.”
On Sept. 3, CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers said, “I think the unfortunate part about all of this is you have individuals like Joe Rogan, for example, who don’t want to take an experimental vaccine but will take horse dewormer.”
And on Sept. 4, anchor Jim Acosta played Rogan’s disclosure video and said, “In case you missed it, Rogan said ivermectin. Yes, that’s the deworming medicine made to kill parasites in farm animals and, weirdly, is being promoted by right-wing media figures and even some politicians as a covid treatment.”
CNN employs an endless array of clowns. That said, your lizard brain is going to tell you that what these "journalists" did was journalistically complete and correct—and there will never be any way to tell your lizard different.
Wemple offers a different assessment. According to Wemple, so did the sane and sober Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent:
WEMPLE (continuing directly): There’s a reason for reciting these transcripts. They turn up a consistent formulation from multiple CNN voices that surely wasn’t a sober recitation of the facts. By highlighting that ivermectin is a horse dewormer, and downplaying that ivermectin has important uses for people, CNN facilitates a certain assumption among its viewers. Namely, that Rogan had been haunting the aisles of Tractor Supply.
After hearing Rogan’s concerns about how CNN cast the issue, Gupta said, “They shouldn’t have said that.”
We agree with Gupta's assessment. As a general matter, we agree with what Wemple says in that passage, though we think his condemnation of this journalistic foolishness could have been stronger and more precise.
Does it matter what these cable "journalists" said about Rogan's case? In the end, it pretty much doesn't.
Nothing much is going to turn on the way these cable performers sifted the facts about this particular matter. That said, this is the kind of clown-car work which is now quite standard on CNN and MSNBC concerning a wide array of matters both large and small.
Thumbs are typically placed on the scale. Basic facts are routinely sifted for your viewing pleasure.
For the record, The Others can see what our corporate stars are doing when they perform in this manner. This sort of thing very strongly affects The Way We Look to Others.
CNN's stars could have explained the basic facts of this particular matter. Instead, they chose to offer serial snark aimed at one of The Others. They were working directly from script.
In all likelihood, some of those stars may not be sharp enough to know the difference between the actual facts and their more pleasing snark. For some of these players, there's a tendency to fudge the facts in a pleasing direction every time they open their mouths.
Wemple did an excellent job reporting the basic facts. We recall being struck, in real time, by the way this bullroar was going on.
That said, Wemple ends his report as shown below. We're puzzled by the way he describes this famous "cable news" channel:
WEMPLE: CNN’s statement sounds more like the work of an advocacy group than a journalism outfit. The “issue,” actually, begins and ends with the integrity of CNN’s content. If we take Rogan’s prescription claim at face value—and CNN hasn’t challenged it—then the network’s coverage was slanted in some cases and straight-up incorrect in others...
So in this instance, you don’t have to endorse Rogan to abhor CNN’s coverage of this topic. Here’s a network, after all, that prides itself on impeccable factual hygiene, a place where there’s no conceptual hair too fine to split, no political statement too sprawling to flyspeck. It’s tough living by your own standards. If CNN wants to describe ivermectin in a way that doesn’t slime the people who take it, the Guardian provides a fine template: “a drug used against parasites in humans and livestock.”
Say what? Is CNN "a network that prides itself on impeccable factual hygiene?" Is CNN "a place where there’s no conceptual hair too fine to split, no political statement too sprawling to flyspeck?"
CNN maintains no such journalistic standards. In seeming to make such peculiar claims, Wemple has gone even farther afield than CNN's silly-bills did.
The FDA advises against the use of ivermectin for Covid. On the other hand, ivermectin is used to treat several conditions in human patients, and some doctors continue to prescribe it for use against Covid.
It isn't hard to state such facts, but CNN ceased to be in "the fact business" during the anti-Trump years. As with MSNBC, CNN has long since gone into the snark-and-attitude business.
Its employees dispense pleasing meds to us blue tribe viewers, hastening defeat as they do. Everyone can see them doing this. This behavior helps explain The Way We Look to Everyone Else.
Your lizard will never let this assessment stand. Are you in control of your lizard today, or does your lizard own you?
Everything doesn't have to be snark. Just try telling that to your lizard!