Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has carefully balanced Constitutional liberty with public health concerns in her approach to managing the Wuhan virus pandemic in South Dakota, which is at very much at odds with how “lock it all down” types on the left and in the media prefer governors manage their states. She has also been her state’s fiercest defender when it comes to attacks on it – and her – from the mainstream media and liberal commentators.
“Journalists” have routinely ridiculed Noem’s handling of the Wuhan virus pandemic while at the same time showering NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) with praise and treating him like a magnificent hero even though his disastrous pandemic crisis management has been well-documented even by the Democrat-friendly New York Times and the liberal-leaning ProPublica group.
The latest instance of a media outlet trying to dunk on Gov. Noem was Tuesday when CBS News filed the below report on coronavirus outbreaks in South Dakota and Indiana. Reporter David Begnaud stated in the news report that South Dakota “leads the nation in per capita hospitalizations.”
HOSPITALS STRAINED: South Dakota and Indiana have the highest rates of COVID-19 hospitalizations per capita nationwide.@DavidBegnaud spoke with battle-weary health care workers on the frontlines of the crisis in both states. pic.twitter.com/dpAKlPFA3Y
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) December 1, 2020
The big problem with Begnaud’s reporting on South Dakota is that it suggests that the state’s hospitals are at their breaking point. Except they’re not, and Gov. Noem proved it with receipts in response to the story:
More misleading reporting from CBS. There are 547 people -STATEWIDE- in the hospital in South Dakota w COVID. That’s less than 20% of those hospitalized. Nearly 40% of our beds are empty. Our doctors & nurses are doing an OUTSTANDING job taking care of those who need extra care. https://t.co/GU85Znjuk4 pic.twitter.com/RYfM0c4nGB
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) December 2, 2020
It’s misleading stories from reporters like Begnaud that have caused many to simply tune out the media when it comes to news on the coronavirus outbreak. There have been too many instances to count over the course of the last several months where journalists have generated panics in their respective communities with reports like these that leave out vital context.
For example, I can think of several instances from the spring and summer where reporters here in North Carolina would report a “doubling” of case numbers in a particular county from one day to the next. Hearing it framed that way one would think that the virus had been spreading like wildfire. Except oftentimes the “doubling” in cases would be from 10 one day to 20 the next. While that is technically “doubling”, putting it that way instead of reporting that “case numbers went from 10 to 20 in one day” makes the numbers sound much more concerning.
Even one case of the virus is bad news, let alone 10, 20, 200, or however many there are reported on a given day in any part of the country. But at a time when virus case numbers are indeed going up in certain areas (which was expected considering we’re going into the fall and winter months as well as the holiday season), it’s critical that the mainstream media not sensationalize their stories and give viewers and readers incomplete pictures of what’s happening in their communities.
They don’t need to sugarcoat what’s happening, but they need to avoid causing undue panic, too. Neither approach to reporting on a public health crisis does the public any good at all.
Back in September, Noem also ripped the media a new one after they ran with a deeply flawed “study” suggesting the Sturgis rally in August might have been a “superspreader event.” Reason.com thoroughly debunked the study’s most sensational claims here.