Dan Gainor

As part of a weeklong series “Bird Flu: Fears, Facts and Fiction; What Americans Need to Know,” reporter Jim Avila interviewed Dr. Robert Webster “the father of bird flu.” Webster came right out and predicted that the virus would mutate. He was storing three months of food and water in his home like some Y2K survivalist, and said the chance of such an event were “about even odds.”

That’s what you need to be thinking about every time you look at the news stories about swine flu. Is this a national crisis? Not hardly. The United States is remarkably well-prepared with stockpiles of the drug Tamiflu just for such an emergency. You can credit the president who made that happen – George W. Bush – but you can bet the media won’t. According to Reuters, Obama “announced steps to release some of the U.S. stockpiles of the anti-flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza.” But you’d have to find stories written years ago to see that Bush was the one to, as The Washington Post reported, “create a government unit to oversee response to a bird flu pandemic or bioterrorism attack.” That was in 2006.

That won’t be the only gap in the news stories about swine flu. With at least 1,600 official cases, Mexico is the hotbed for this virus. Where is the discussion of border security to keep the virus out of the United States?

It’s nonexistent. Yet, when Mexicans complained American guns were somehow to blame for their drug war, the mainstream media hyped it constantly. Now that there is a major threat to American health, there is no real discussion of guarding the border.

CNN claims that “customs and border protection is watching passengers for signs of illness.” That sounds comforting until you read the April 27 Reuters report on what is really happening at the border and that “Mexicans crossing by car and foot seemed unconcerned by the influenza scare and only a handful wore masks.”

Meanwhile, even the horribly run European Union is advising against the European non-essential trips to Mexico and other nations are taking the issue seriously. ABC News said that “In Japan, officials have been taking temperatures of those returning from Mexico.”

But in America, politicians have taken the temperature of the Hispanic voting bloc and consider not offending them to be more important than border security.

Another topic you won’t hear mentioned very much by the media.


Dan Gainor

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and director of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.
 


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