“Good evening, everyone. I’m Pete Sakes, your host for that fun fan favorite, The Media Coronavirus Panic Game – where your favorite news outlet works overtime to distort facts, hide data, and incite fear for higher ratings or readership and put the screws to officials favoring common sense over Nanny State solutions.”
“And welcome to our players, I.C. Dayter, Ferry Sharp and Lotta Lucken.”
“Contestants, here’s how we play: I’ll read the headline designed to heighten terror and second-guess plans to re-open from job-killing, freedom-depriving coronavirus lockdowns. You find the information buried in the story which provides the true context.”
“Tonight we’ll focus on South Florida’s wildly liberal Sun-Sentinel, which has Governor Ron DeSantis, and his record of success in handling the virus, firmly in its sights.”
“Ready? Here’s the first ‘dread-line,” from June 11:
“Coronavirus cases in Florida surge with biggest jump since March.”
“Pete, it’s in the fourth paragraph: ‘The rising number of cases corresponds with a steady rise in the number of COVID-19 tests, compared with the same period a month ago. And despite the higher case counts, the percentage of positive tests is dropping.’”
“Great job, I.C. 100 points. Here’s another leader from that same day: ‘Coronavirus not contained in any way, shape or form. Florida case count continues to soar.’”
“’Further down, but not hard to find: "The cases are not indicative of any clinical consequence," DeSantis said. Our hospitalizations are flat. Intensive Care Unit use is half of what it was in April. "
“’Dr. Jay Wolfson (of) the University of South Florida said he wasn’t surprised to see the cases climb, given increased testing, more reliable testing, and more interaction in the community.’”
“Very sharp, Ferry. 150 points. Now a title two days later: ‘Florida tops 3,000 coronavirus deaths; adds 2,581 cases in a day.’”
“Lotta jumping in.”
“Pete, I’ll point to this passage: ‘DeSantis said this month’s expanded testing includes more younger people who won’t wind up in hospitals or die from the disease. "What we’re seeing is of the people testing positive way more are in the 25 to 45 (age range) than was happening two months ago."'"
“A lotta skill there. 200 points. The next banner: 'Florida reports 3,400 kids with coronavirus; 10 stricken with severe illness.'”
“’The report released Friday also says 103 children have been treated in hospitals and none have died from COVID-19 illness.’”
“You do see data, I.C. That’s 200 points.”
It’s a close game. We’re pushing the point count to 300 with the next hysteria-hyping header: ‘Hospital beds filling up as coronavirus surges.’”
“The context’s in three separate paragraphs here, Pete. ‘The percentage of available ICU beds in Orange and Seminole counties have dropped from about 30% on June 1 to 17% on June 14, but local officials attribute some of it to increase in the number of surgeries as things return to normal coupled with more severe cases resulting from delays in care.’
“’Health officials said that even though the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients are increasing, so are the elective surgeries and emergency procedures not related to COVID-19.’
“And finally, ‘Even in Central Florida, where occupancy is higher than South Florida, officials said that they’re not yet concerned…. They said local hospitals continue to have enough capacity to handle any potential COVID-19 surge.’
“In other words, capacity’s tightest in parts of the state where the COVID surge is the lowest, it’s partly related to people getting sicker from other health issues BECAUSE they were locked down, and hospitals are nowhere near overwhelmed.”
“Great job, Ferry. 300 points plus another 100 for the excellent analysis. It’s still anyone’s game because our final, literal ‘scarehead,’ fresh off the presses today, is worth 500 points: ‘2,783 infections: Florida records the most new coronavirus cases in a day since start of crisis.’"
““Bzzzzz. Bzzzzz. Bzzzzz.”
“Everyone in on the action. It’s close, but the final opportunity goes to Lotta.”
“Whoomp! There it is right near the top: ‘State officials say it’s a result of a more robust testing program, including mobile units that reach into agricultural communities and long-term care facilities. They also cite virus outbreaks in prisons.’
“’South Florida’s largest counties had 42.3% of Tuesday’s new cases… (they) have had 6,656 hospitalizations, an increase of eight over the previous 24 hours.’ Meaning that in the worst part of the state, there were 1800 new cases but only eight new hospitalizations. And many of the positives are in high-risk groups specifically targeted for testing.”
“Superb. 500 points plus a 100-point bonus. You’ve done a lotta lookin’ behind the Halloween-style headlines and are our big winner! (Applause.)”
“Of course, we know the losers: smart, good government policymakers under bombardment from gotcha headline writers – and the people experiencing constant trepidation for no good reason.”
“That’s our show for today. Tune in to Media Coronavirus Panic tomorrow when we’ll zero in on how network TV wants you to think Red State America is turning into Andrew Cuomo’s New York….”
Your (Conservative) Maestro has been around for a really long time orchestrating messaging and communications strategy for politicians, CEOs and other assorted types. He thinks he may have picked up a few things along the way.