Tuesday, February 03, 2015

A lesson in the corrupt press

In the last few days, both President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie made similar statements about vaccination. They both said that parents should absolutely vaccinate their children, but that it's still ultimately the parent's choice (and not government's). While the statements were similar, the press reported these stories completely differently. They praised Obama for calling for vaccination, and lambasted Christie for siding with anti-vaxxers on parental choice.

The White House's statement is the following:
The President certainly believes that these kinds of decisions are decisions that should be made by parents, because ultimately when we’re talking about vaccinations, we’re typically talking about vaccinations that are given to children.  But the science on this, as our public health professionals I’m sure would be happy to tell you, the science on this is really clear.
Christie's statement is the following:
Mary Pat and I have had our children vaccinated and we think that it’s an important part of being sure we protect their health and the public health. I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide.
The thing is, not only is Chris Christie not siding with the anti-vaxxers, he's actually siding against them. Many Republicans are "small-government" types who believe that it's ultimately the parent's decision. Christie is more a "big-government" Republican. He believes that, when necessary, the government can override a parent's decision. He did something similar recently, forcibly quarantining a nurse who was infected with ebola.

Members of the press are overwhelmingly Democrats. Therefore, they will tar Republicans with this anti-vax nonsense regardless of what Republicans say. This will hit hardest on the "small-government" types who, while being pro-vaccine, nonetheless agree with Obama's statement that it's ultimately the parent's choice.

It's not that Republicans do themselves any favors. Last week, Rand Paul made some comments on vaccination. He described how he vaccinated his own kids, and he called vaccination one of the greatest medical advances ever. Nonetheless, he threw the anti-vax side a bone, suggesting there might indeed be a link between vaccines and autism. 30% of any group is a bunch of UFO believing wackos, but wackos who nonetheless have the same right to vote as normals. No politician needlessly antagonizes them. All politicians, both Democrat and Republican, will choose their words carefully on this issue. Some, like Rand Paul, will cross the line. However, the story isn't that he secret leans in the anti-vax direction -- he's just as likely to lean in the anti-wacko direction.

I point this out because the situation is only going to get worse as the presidential election season progresses. Right now, anti-vaxxers are if anything a left-wing phenomenon, which is why California is the center of the measles outbreaks. But, by the time the election season comes around, it'll have become a right-wing issue. In the primary debates, the Democrats won't discuss vaccines, but Republicans will. The left-wing press will be calling all Republican candidates anti-vaxxers. And the Republicans, not wanting to alienate 30% of the electorate, won't sufficiently defend themselves against the charge.

In other words, it'll become just like Global Warming, where "everyone knows" in the press that Republicans deny the basic science, despite most all Republicans having declared they support the basic science.


A.Nonymous said...

"Members of the press are overwhelmingly Democrats."

Citation please? It would seem that there is an ever increasing number that identify as independent:


Philip Brewer said...

Well, just to be accurate: Forcibly quarantining a nurse who was NOT infected with ebola.