Radio host should set the record straight

Editorial by Seth Dukes


 Each Monday and Tuesday, I listen to the local radio station from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. The host of the show that’s on during that time slot is obviously against the steps being taken to contain COVID-19, and he is certainly entitled to have that opinion. He’s also entitled to discuss that opinion with his listening audience.

 However, he should not spread misinformation.

 “…Death rates are down so much so that the Center for Disease Control says that we are now below, BELOW pandemic levels,” the host said in last Tuesday’s episode.

 This statement is patently false. Where could the host have read this? I did some digging, and I believe I’ve found the origin of it. It’s from a website called Just the News. There’s an article with a headline reading “COVID-19 is close to losing its epidemic status in the U.S., according to the CDC.”

 USA Today did a great job fact checking the aforementioned article, so I’ll just quote what they said.

 “The article misconstrues a July 4 weekly update from the Centers for Disease Control which discussed a brief decline in the percentage of national deaths attributed to pneumonia, influenza or COVID-19. That same CDC posting noted, ‘The percentage is currently below the epidemic threshold but will likely change as more death certificates are processed, particularly for recent weeks.’ The CDC has clarified that the epidemic threshold in question has no bearing on whether COVID-19 can be considered a pandemic, and experts are in consensus that the disease remains widespread and dangerous.”

 Additionally, a July 18 update from the CDC states the following: “Mortality attributed to COVID-19 remains above the epidemic threshold and increased slightly during the first two weeks of July after declining for 11 weeks since mid-April.”

 The host will be quick to point out that, in his opinion, the newspaper is disingenuous and deceitful. Specifically, he has a problem with an editorial writer known by the alias Conrad Doyle.

 I have no control over what Conrad writes; I only have control over what I write. I do make mistakes, but once they’re pointed out to me, it is a top priority to correct them immediately. I know that the host appreciates my journalistic efforts because, during the LTGGA court proceedings locally, he read several of my news articles over the airwaves.

 I believe it’s the host’s responsibility to address the alleged inaccuracy over the airwaves. He should either admit that he was wrong or provide evidence to support his claim that the CDC “says that we are now below pandemic levels.”

 Additionally, the host shouldn't resort to a tu quoque fallacy. A tu quoque fallacy’s intention is to discredit the opponent’s argument by asserting the opponent’s failure to act consistently in accordance with its conclusions. For example, the host shouldn’t say “Well, how can the newspaper expect me to tell the truth when they lie in their paper every week!” That’s irrelevant to the logic of the argument and is a red herring.

 The host and I have vastly different opinions, and that’s okay. However, I think it’s important that the record is set straight for anyone else who may have been listening that day.

 Mistakes happen. The important thing is that they get corrected.

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