Keep this number in Mind:  582,150.

It’s the combined number for the American war dead in two world wars and Vietnam.  All day Monday, news media was reporting COVID-19 had now killed more Americans than those three wars combined.  It wasn’t true.  Late in the day, President Biden strode to a lectern and gave a number slightly over one-half million.  Then there was a ceremony with candles, Amazing Grace and a moment of silence.  All made for TV.

This is why people don’t have trust in journalists.

I’m not a historian by trade but I liked the subject in school and college.  So much that I aced every history test.  I did!  I wasn’t much of a student but when it came to history, I was swept up in the subject.

When I heard about the death toll suddenly being higher than the three wars listed, I was a skeptic.  One of the first thick books I read as a boy was about U.S. involvement in World War One.  It left more than 100,000 Americans dead.  World War Two left in excess of 400,000 Americans dead.  More than 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam.  I did the math in my head and recognized the error immediately and, yet.  Even Fox was reporting the same narrative as mainstream news media.  Are reporters purposefully attempting to mislead?  Did they not do the math?  Was the figure offered by the White House and nobody in the press gaggle had the ambition to verify?

This is why people don’t have trust in journalists.

When I was a young guy working in newsrooms 30 to 35 years ago, we were told we better be accurate.  “To clear up any ambiguity,” as one boss often repeated.  He didn’t like “almost” or “nearly”.

By the late 90s he had moved on and editors and news directors realized fear sells.  An inch of snow calls for “Team Coverage”.  Flesh eating bacteria lurks on every surface.  The world is going to end in twelve years.  You’re not being served.

 

LOOK: 100 years of American military history