Back when the COVID vaccine was first being rolled out, Palmer Report predicted that once the majority of Americans were vaccinated, the media would then try to milk us all for ratings and page views by suddenly insisting that herd immunity had become impossible.
We wanted to be wrong about this, but the reality is the media never passes up an opportunity to spin something into a doomsday narrative. For that matter, the media particularly relishes in taking a positive development that everyone is starting to feel good about, and spinning that into a doomsday narrative, because it has a particularly emotional resonance that causes the narrative to go viral.
Sure enough, now that a little more than half of all American adults have been vaccinated – far earlier than would have been expected, no less – we’re seeing the media begin pushing the notion that the vaccine rollout has been a failure. Why do this? Again, the answer is always ratings and page views; as far as major media outlets are concerned, they only exist to rack up ratings and page views, because that’s how they make their revenue, and of course they’re all for-profit corporations.
On Monday the New York Times published an article which only quoted the experts who think herd immunity is unlikely or impossible, and then claimed that they were the consensus. It’s not at all difficult to poke around and find experts who think herd immunity is definitely possible, but that didn’t fit the doomsday narrative that the Times was going for, and so they were treated as if they don’t exist.
The Times article could end up doing real damage, because if people read it and conclude that herd immunity isn’t going to happen anyway, they may not bother pushing the mildly hesitant people within their personal circles to go ahead and get vaccinated. In other words, the article could end up being a self fulfilling prophecy, and a deadly one. But the Times article has gone viral because it’s scared and outraged so many people, meaning the Times has made thousands of dollars of ad revenue from it, which it surely sees as a win.
Then NBC News posted a headline on Monday accusing Walgreens and CVS of having wasted huge amounts of COVID vaccines. The article itself goes on to admit that less 200,000 doses have been wasted, total, nationwide, by all entities combined, since the rollout started. With more than 200 million doses administered, this means that less than 0.1% of all doses have gone to waste. That’s a huge success.
But this NBC article is so desperate to smear Walgreens and CVS, it’s left the impression that these two companies are throwing huge amounts of vaccines into the trash. This may cause people not to trust Walgreens and CVS as vaccine providers, and not take an appointment at those two stores even if one is provided, and then maybe not get around to getting vaccinated elsewhere. So again, this misleading NBC article could have deadly consequences. But the article went viral, to the point that the names of the two stores were trending on Twitter, so NBC got the page views and ad revenue it was hoping for.
If you’re new here, suffice it to say that major media outlets pull this kind of crap all the time. It’s never an attempt at helping one side or the other. It’s not partisan. It’s only ever about driving ratings and page views, because most major news outlets only see themselves as existing to drive ratings and page views.
Now that these two bogus articles have successfully gone viral on the same day, we’ll likely see even more major news outlets take a shot at getting ratings and page views out of claiming that the vaccine rollout is suddenly a failure. And if you think the major news outlets care about whether this might get people killed, keep in mind that these are the same major news outlets that spent the entire 2016 election flat out lying about an imaginary email scandal that resulted in a murderous psychopath becoming President of the United States. Compared to that, sabotaging the vaccine rollout for ratings and page views is mere child’s play.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report