“Congratulations to all you American media morons, you’ve got your country worked-up into a frenzy…everybody knows that swine flu goes away just as quickly as regular flu, but for you its all about audiences and profits, so you’ll hype this for all it’s worth, wont ya?”
The talk show caller was so enraged at me, he had begun slurring his words as he spit them out in rapid-fire succession. It was last Friday, May 1, and I was making another one of my semi-regular appearances as an interview guest on a popular afternoon drive radio talk show in British Columbia (the show hosts and I have a good rapport, as they jokingly refer to me as “almost their favorite American” ).
After the caller spewed his venom, one of the co-hosts deferred to me, saying “Austin, your response?”
I pointed out that President Obama and Secretary Napolitano from the Department of Homeland Security had chosen to speak repeatedly about the “swine flu pandemic.” Never mind the fact that out of a population of roughly 304 million U.S. citizens, less than 150 cases of swine flu have been identified in only 19 of the 50 states. No, no, forget that. Our government officials were “taking care of us.”
To illustrate my point, here’s a fun little excerpt from a news report filed on Monday April 27th - - which was oh-so-many press conferences ago - - by the McClatchy-Tribune news service:
“Faced with the global outbreak…the Obama administration has been relying on a member of the president's Cabinet with almost no background in medicine - Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security. Over the past two days, Napolitano has been a constant presence on television screens and in news reports, urging calm, offering reassurance, laying out the facts and the government's response to the spreading outbreak.”
That was the “news” of a week ago, when Napolitano had already become a “constant presence” in the media.
So who, precisely, is trying to “hype this thing for all it’s worth?”
And by the way, the governmental hype doesn’t begin and end with Obama and company. It was President George W. Bush himself who, in 2006, held a press conference to announce the launching of a new governmental website devoted entirely to information about the “bird flu pandemic.” Likewise, Bush’s Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff noted at the time that "the avian (bird) flu bears the potential for societal disruption of unprecedented proportion.”
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.