The Big Think

October 13, 2014

The Centers for Disease Control Loses Its Grip

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 12:39 pm

The Centers for Disease Control Loses Its Grip:

“I have lived long enough, now, to have seen it again and again. Something goes badly wrong involving a corporation, a university, a religious denomination, or a branch of government, and the executive in charge or a designated minion goes before the press to engage in what is euphemistically called ‘damage control.’ The spokesman does not level with the public. He or she tries to be reassuring and — more often than not — by lying, succeeds in undermining confidence in the institution he or she represents.

This is what is now going on with the Centers for Disease Control. In recent years, this well-respected outfit has branched out, opining in a politically correct manner on one issue after another outside its proper remit. Now it is faced with a matter absolutely central to its responsibilities — actual disease control — and it flips and flops and flounders because the ultimate boss, the President of the United States, cannot bring himself to put limits on contacts between Americans and the citizens of the countries in Africa where there is an Ebola epidemic.

There is only one way to prevent the spread of an epidemic, and that is quarantine. No medical professional with any sense would suggest that we should admit individuals from Liberia to the United States at this time, and no medical professional worth his or her salt would say that we can test for the disease when the prospective visitor arrives at Immigration and Passport Control. Like most diseases, Ebola has an incubation period. Early on, there are no symptoms: none at all. There is no reliable way to tell whether those arriving at our ports of entry have contracted the disease or not. If we do not want it coming here, for a time, we have to keep everyone out who has been in that neck of the woods.

And what are we told by the authorities? That cutting off contact would contribute to the spread of the epidemic. ‘Just how?’ we are entitled to ask. But no explanation is given because, of course, there is none. We were also told that the disease would not come here. And, when it did come here, we were told that it could easily be contained. And, when it was not contained and a medical professional wearing all the proper gear came down with the disease, we were told that he did not follow the protocol.”

Thrashed by the Cycle

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 11:12 am

Time Waits For No One:

“If there were only some way of quarantining memes it would be very much appreciated right now. Carrie Dann of NBC News laments ‘If you’re even a casual news consumer, you know that the spread of Ebola, the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS and major security breaches within the Secret Service have dominated media coverage over the last week as Americans mull the safety of their families, U.S. soldiers, and the president himself.’…

…It wasn’t supposed to be this way: the news has hijacked the news cycle.

To appreciate how much this hurts it’s important to remember that the media’s greatest power is its ability to set the public agenda. Ever since 1968 it has jealously guarded the power to both determine what the public talks about (the agenda) and how it is discussed (framing)…

…As MSNBC noted, the public instead of talking about the real issues, is talking about Ebola, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Ukraine, etc. It’s a fine kettle of fish when media consultants find the news revolting. An uprising of the facts is making the management of the news cycle impossible.”

Boo frickin’ hoo. If they spent more time reporting the news instead of framing and massaging it, journalists would be less worried about being at the mercy of the cycle and what that means to the stability of their positions.

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