3 April 2020
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All I want is the truth, just give me some truth

Peter Switzer
6 March 2020

My media mates are bullshitting the Coronavirus and it’s a disgrace. I really don’t want to write this, but my sense of social obligation and my fear that the infodemic about the alleged pandemic means I have to criticize my mates in the media. But I guess as an experienced player in the space who was schooled by an old-fashioned regime, I have to scream that this Coronavirus bullshit has to stop!

The excrement that has been passed off as news has resulted in actual fisticuffs in supermarket aisles over toilet paper, for God’s sake!

Don’t get me wrong — this is a serious economic challenge, but the health threats have been exaggerated. For my podcast, I pursued my friend, cardiologist and media-medico, Dr Ross Walker, to explain to my Switzer Show audience just how scared we should be?

If you listen to Ross, you understand that the garden variety influenza killed 12,000 Americans last year and being a numbers man, I ran my eye over the infection and death numbers in South Korea in yesterday’s column. I found the infection rate was a very low 0.06% — and of those, 0.01% ended up deceased.

That’s still a tragedy but the attention the Coronavirus is getting is out of control. And it means the news about the Coronavirus could be a bigger threat to our economy and the global economy than the actual virus!

Yesterday I was lucky to lunch with immunologist, Dr Ian Fraser, from the Uni of Queensland, who explained lots of us will pick up the Coronavirus and many of us won’t even know about it. He was more concerned about the media’s coverage of the virus!

That’s right, two men with impeccable qualifications are concerned about the Coronavirus, but are more concerned about the coverage of the virus by the media than they are about the actual infectious threat to life.

Both warn older Aussies with respiratory issues, diabetes, other sickness issues and smokers, as well as those in aged care, are the ones who need to watch out for the Coronavirus but most of us are simply in for nothing to be too stressed about!

The pressure for media outlets to get eyeballs and ears means the media, at times, swaps intelligent analysis of current affairs issues for clickbait stupidity, which is not really a threat to life and limb but jobs, economic growth, profits, share prices and our super funds.

I really wish adults were in charge of media outlets who occasionally say “we’re better than that and we won’t run that shit!” By the way, that’s the way Heads of News actually speak when they’re making a point.

And that’s the problem — too many young journalists haven’t been given great leadership — and gee, isn’t it showing?

We have right-wing outlets pushing their agenda and left-wing outlets playing fast and loose with the truth. And it’s honesty, integrity and the brainpower of the media that is the casualty.

As the great John Lennon once pleaded: “Gimme some truth…”

By the way, given the magnitude of the media beat-up, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will need to spend about $4 billion, minimum, to offset the negativity from the scare campaign that could hurt the economy, job creation, profits, share prices, our super balances and wage rises.

Sure there will be supply problems from the virus via China’s closing of factories to beat the medical emergency, but this scare campaign could hurt local demand, apart for the inexplicable desire for toilet paper!

One of our most famous novels was called 'We’re a Weird Mob' and no truer words were ever put together.

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