Following in an unpublished letter to the editor of the Washington Post.
“Panic is what we want,” declared Anne Applebaum of the swine flu in the Post Opinion pages in May. “Panic is good.” The next month John Barry told Opinion readers to expect “89,000 to 207,000” swine flu deaths. In August, Opinions ran Jorge R. Mancillas’ piece warning of “between 9 million and 10 million” swine flu deaths worldwide.
There have been no Opinions pieces critical of swine flu hype.
Now the CDC estimates that in five and a half months swine flu has killed 4,000 Americans, while plain old seasonal flu annually kills about 36,000 over a five-month season. Worldwide, as of November 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) says only that swine flu is known to have killed over 6,250 people in seven months, even while it estimates seasonal flu kills 4,800 to 9,600 every seven days.
Aha! But Posteconomics writer Alan Sipress warns Opinion readers that if the do-nothing avian flu (the WHO says it’s been infecting poultry and hence making bird-human contact since at least 1959) were to combine with the lazy swine flu, the outcome could be “savage,” a “real nightmare.” (“Playing Chicken with the Flu,” November 15). Yes, and if Godzilla could rise from the deep he could destroy Tokyo!
Enough already! The point is made. And it says nothing about the swine flu but everything about the Post Opinions page.
[Not incidentally, I know they don’t run anti-panic op-eds because in addition to this letter I sent them two. One was specific to the Post, but the second one was not and later appeared in the much-larger circulation Los Angeles Times.