Saturday, 25 April 2020

Corporate media spin "lockdown" deaths, blame public

The Office for National Statistics weekly death figures are both valid and reliable. For this year, they have shown there were fewer deaths than the five yearly average for the corresponding period, until the week ending 3 April 2020. That week and the following week both showed more deaths than the five yearly average for the corresponding weeks. These two weeks are the first weeks covering the government's "lockdown" measures. Looking at the figures in detail, even taking the (inflated) coronavirus related death figures at face value, it is clear that thousands of these above average deaths were the result of the government's anti-coronavirus measures.

The corporate media would, of course, have liked to have presented the increase in these death figures as being the result of the virus. However, as this was impossible, they were forced to seek an alternative narrative. They could hardly be expected, after all, to have attributed the above average non-coronavirus deaths to their own hysterical fear-mongering, which had bounced the government into implementing its draconian "lockdown" measures. They have, therefore, settled on the narrative that these above average deaths have been caused by members of the public failing to seek medical attention when needed (which even if that were the sole cause would anyway lead immediately back to their fear-mongering).

This narrative, not only absolves the corporate media, it maintains their representation of health care workers as heroes, and deflects attention away from the entirely predictable harmful effects of the "lockdown." These are significant propaganda benefits. They enable the corporate media to continue to push for the maintenance of the "lockdown" measures (which are killing people), and enable them to continue with their wall to wall sensationalist fear-mongering (which even according to their own position has stopped people from seeking medical attention and is killing people); the narrative also enables them blame an actor (the general public) who has no platform from which to reply, particularly as the "lockdown" measures have removed the right to assembly and protest and parliament is reduced to a digital pretence, where MPs have effectively formed a one party state that merely confers a specious aura of democratic legitimacy.

However, in pushing this new narrative, the corporate media have had to acknowledge that many health care facilities are virtually empty and some are even completely empty. These facts, of course, run completely counter to the earlier claims of the health service being over-stretched, with its heroic staff having to work ridiculously long (and obviously dangerously long) shifts to cope with the alleged crisis.

To say that the coronavirus propaganda narrative is creaking at the seams would be a gross understatement. The corporate media's narrative is hardly a narrative at all; it is a series of makeshift ad hoc rationalisations, which are barely coherent and lack any consistency. The corporate media are attempting to hide the falling apart of the narrative by resort to mere emoting and the hope that the public cannot remember what it is told from one day to the next, and if they can, then the hope that they will be fooled by the claim that "the science" is constantly changing.

The meme that the policy is the result of "the science" and that as the science changes so must the policy has been pushed from the outset. However, it was never more than specious and the longer this continues the less plausible it becomes. First, no policy is ever simply the result of science. Any policy is a value judgement. Any policy decision has to weigh risks and potential benefits; it has be based on a consideration of its effects across all aspects of policy-making. In terms of the decision to introduce the "lockdown" measures: a rational policy-maker would have considered how many lives the measures might save and weigh this against (at least) how many deaths the measures might cause. Yet, as Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, admitted at the Coronavirus Daily Update (10 April 2020) the government made no attempt to estimate the number of deaths the measures would cause.

The second way in which the notion that the policy is the result of the science is shown to be a sham is the way in which the assertions and exhortations change. The propaganda claim is that this is because the science has changed. Yet the science is never presented. Take the social distancing claims for instance. The scientific basis for this claim is computer modelling. However, any scientifically literate person knows that the results of computer models are not evidence. They are simply the Mathematically inevitable result of the assumptions. Another example of this - the science has changed nonsense - can be seen on the issue of the public wearing masks. For months the government and the corporate media were in lock step in asserting that there was no scientific evidence to suggest that wearing masks would be beneficial. Now the corporate media are trying to force the government into adopting a wearing masks position (because in order to maintain the fear, they have to constantly demand that something be done). So they are rolling out "experts" to say that there is scientific evidence that wearing masks works. Yet they never presented any evidence for their initial claim and so they are not even in a position to show research that over turns that position.

Indeed, in all the rhetoric around the coronavirus, "the science" has never been anything more than a rhetorical device designed to prevent criticism of the narrative. There is nothing scientific about the "lockdown" measures. Indeed, the measures are the result of an irrational, irresponsible and incompetent approach to policy-making, as Matt Hancock's admission revealed.

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