Media Malpractice: The Press Held a Pandemic in Florida, but They Never Got an RSVP From the Virus


If you have heard about an outbreak of a contagion in Florida this month I feel it is necessary to cover what is happening. Since I am located in South Florida it is incumbent upon me to deliver up-to-the-minute dispatches from here, in the Hot Zone. It is the least I can do since – unlike those reporting on this danger – I am actually here, and thus I can file this field report: Just what in the hell are they screaming about?!

Many people talk about how upside-down things are in this country in 2024, and a recent episode in the press shows this to be the case. For decades now Florida has been regarded as something of a psych ward waiting room, but today the state is a national leader with the enviable Governor Ron DeSantis and people streaming across the state lines with U-Hauls and renewed hope. Meanwhile, we look outward and see a media industry losing their collective minds over the Sunshine State, as we sit back and wonder from where they are getting their information.

In just the latest example of this, I have been looking over the press coverage of conditions in my home, and I marvel at what journalists in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles tell me is happening here. It appears the practice of actually speaking to people in the region you are covering is a foreign concept regarding domestic issues.

We will start with the Washington Post, where disgraced (and thus revered in the press) Doctor Leana Wen covers an outbreak of measles in Florida. She calls this a “devastating” event and proceeds to scorch the state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo for dropping the ball and permitting this outbreak to fester. NBC News very calmly and rationally described Florida’s outbreak as “A Heat Seeking Missile.” The Guardian was no more reserved, saying Florida “Is Swamped By Disease Outbreaks” (there had been only one), and described Ladapo as practicing “quackery.”

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At the Los Angeles Times the (remaining) Editorial Board, in true Gavin Newsom fashion, felt the need to weigh in on a matter in another state. They soberly declared “Florida Shows How To Bungle a Measles Outbreak.” At National Public Radio they told us “Florida’s Response to Measles Outbreak Troubles Health Experts,” and many others followed suit in double-masking journalistically from afar.

Then there was this editorial from a local outlet, once regarded as a vital news organ in South Florida. The Miami Herald column featured three doctors, intoning all of the warnings of this virus and what it could lead to, all while slamming the response by state officials. 

  • Florida leaders are largely ignoring the measles outbreak, with calls for Florida surgeon general’s resignation over inaction towards measles. Meanwhile, waiting for the CDC to recover its professional voice is not an option. It is imperative that state and local officials, and healthcare professionals, take immediate action to stop measles.

There was plenty of hysteria and cautionary scenarios offered, but this editorial lacked something that has been missing from most of the other pieces featured – current statistics. There was plenty of warning of what this could all lead to and promises of doom for the lack of activity, but how many cases are we dealing with and what can we expect from it all?!?!?

Nine.

That is the totality of the measles cases in the state. Nine. Additionally, there have been no more than those reported to this point, no more than the number which I cannot stress enough – NINE! And while this is a glaringly small figure, against all of the screaming of doom and castigating of health officials in the state, by looking into things those media reports become all the more irresponsible and completely unacceptable.

Of those nine measles cases, none saw the infected requiring hospitalizations. And of those nine, all were located in Broward County, with most of the cases found in one school. There have been no further reports of measles anywhere else in the state, so this alleged outbreak of “devastating” proportions was in fact contained, and the “tragedy” saw no one adversely affected. Further, local authorities speculate the main reason for the outbreak would be unvaccinated students, as the inoculations for measles carry a 97% success rate. How this irresponsibility falls on Dr. Ladapo or state authorities goes unexplored.

Now, what is the number of excitable reports on how the state conquered this outbreak? How many blaring headlines do we see congratulating officials? How often has Dr. Ladapo been featured as a hero for halting this scourge? The answer to all of those rhetorical questions is zero, of course, because doing so would admit to these “journalism” outlets being hysterically inaccurate.

But the craven media malpractice is shown here to be far worse. The Dr. Wen panic piece, the Guardian’s hit job – even that Miami Herald Piece by the doctors’ collective – were all penned this month. The last reported case of measles in Florida was in late February. This means most of this shrieking about the state dropping the ball leading to a pandemic was taking place after the outbreak had been contained. Some of these were published weeks after no new cases were found.

Much like we had been exposed to during the COVID pandemic, the media are infected with bias, as they dispense advice and reporting afflicted with partisan approaches to stories. What we are in desperate need of is an outbreak of journalism to take place in the press.



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