Chris Wallace has given us great insight into how narratives are taken as facts. I’m sure he had no intention of doing so, but nevertheless group think has invaded the mind of our best interviewer. Maybe it was always in residence. A couple of posts ago, Books and Biden, I noted Wallace questioned the appointment, Dr. Scott Atlas. I wrote, “on his recent Sunday program, he questioned Dr. Atlas’s addition to the President’s coronavirus staff. What could a neuroradiologist have to offer in a pandemic?” I pointed out it was a strangely uninformed statement. Dr. Atlas is a respected national expert on public-health policy. He’s advised national leaders, including the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. Going back to March and April, I explained we lacked someone to provide a broader perspective to severe lockdowns. Someone to offer real cost-benefit analysis. Had that person or persons been present initially, maybe some of the destructive excesses of the lockdowns might have been avoided.
The idea Wallace’s characterization was an uninformed one-off statement now is out the window. He again commented on Dr. Atlas to Sandra Smith on Fox’s America’s newsroom concerning Dr. Atlas’ statement, ” ‘I anticipate a complete, and full, and rapid recovery back to normal after his necessary confinement period,'” Smith said, quoting Atlas. “‘I anticipate [Trump] will be back on the road in full swing. He is a very, very healthy guy and the overwhelming majority of people even at his age do fine with this'”
To this, Wallace barked, “I’m going to say something. And folks, I’m just trying to give you the truth,” Wallace continued. “Dr. Scott Atlas is not an epidemiologist, is not an infectious disease specialist. He has no training in this area at all. There are a number of top people on the President’s coronavirus task force who have had grave concerns about Scott Atlas and his scientific bona fides…Listen to people like Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx — who have been largely cut off. Listen to the independent people who do not have a political axe to grind. And I, frankly, don’t think Scott Atlas is one of those people.”
Dr. Atlas was just trying to put the President’s illness in perspective. What he said wasn’t much different than CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon, said Friday morning’s New Day, “obviously, given the president’s age and his pre-existing illnesses, he’s going to be at increased risk from this disease, Still, the odds are very much in his favor … greater than 90 percent, 95 percent chance that he will get through this.” Doctors Marc Siegel and Manny Alvarez of Wallace’s own Fox News made similar statements. Neither are infectious disease specialists. So why Wallace’s ugly attack?
Maybe he was just misinformed. This seems unlikely given his research needs for substantial interviews. This brings us to where he gets the information he trusts. When Dr. Atlas was appointed, the left-wing media described him as a neuroradiologist unqualified for the position. A man favors the much discredited to their minds Swedish coronavirus approach and in favor of the deadly “herd immunity.” NPR put it this way,
He’s an MRI guy,” says Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. “If I was confused about some brain lesion and what the MRI findings were, I’d be happy to call him up.”
But President Trump has tapped Atlas for a very different role — as an adviser on the coronavirus pandemic. As such, he is counseling the president on life-and-death decisions about the virus, which has already killed more than 180,000 Americans so far this year.
That has Jha and others worried.
“He has no expertise in any of this stuff,” Jha says. “He’s been bringing out arguments that have been refuted week after week, month after month, since the beginning of this outbreak.”
The Washington Post Editorial Board chimed in, “Dr. Atlas, a neuroradiologist and fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, has been campaigning for more schools to open in-person classrooms, playing down testing and criticizing lockdowns.” In fact, if you just google Dr. Atlas and look up what the left wing media was saying, it’s pretty much the same mantra.
Right of center publications saw the Doctor differently. The National Review described his work,
At the Hoover Institution, Dr. Atlas conducts research on health-policy-related topics and is considered to be a leading thinker on the impact of government and the private sector on access, quality, and pricing in health care, global trends in health-care innovation, and key economic issues related to technological advances in medicine. His scholarship is centered on data-driven work; he is also known as a relentless applier of logic and critical thinking.
Sounds like we could be talking two different people. On the one hand, we have a neuroradiologist, unqualified to take part in pandemic resolution. On the other hand, we have a leading medical policy expert contributing to our significant medical policy crisis response.
How come Chris gave us only the left-wing picture of Dr. Atlas? It isn’t as if the Hoover Institution doesn’t have a website. Even the Washington Post mentioned Dr. Atlas was a senior fellow there. They just omitted what he did. Failing personal animosity to Dr. Atlas, one can only conclude he felt he already had the Doctor’s facts. He knew them because he got them from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and NPR. Reading the Wall Street Journal, National Review, or another right of center publication might’ve alerted him there was much more to Dr. Atlas’s resume. Apparently, he is only aware of the left of center media. How else do you explain a seasoned reporter not even taking the time to google Dr. Atlas? Let’s call it the “Wallace Method.”
This explains how he can recommend we defer to “real scientists” such as Doctors Fauci and Birx. He seems blissfully unaware scientists have disagreed on the proper response to the coronavirus from the beginning. Dr. Atlas’s early opposition to hard lockdowns in favor of a more targeted approach is now mainstream. As I pointed out, Europe, even with rising cases, is refusing to return excessive lockdowns. The Swedish model is more in vogue. After all, Swedish outcomes across the board are better than ours. Most research now shows hard lockdowns do more harm than good.
This conflict was there right from the beginning. On March 20, the NY Times published an OP-ED by Dr. David Katz, Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease? Maybe Mr. Wallace and others should read it. It wasn’t just Dr. Atlas questioning our actions. More important, the critics were right. Read the article and see if you agree. I posted my first article on Coronavirus lockdowns on the very same day. It had many of the same observations. Dr. Katz was more complete, but mine shows how available even then the data was to the general public. It was just ignored. Being correct is why Dr. Atlas was hired.
More dismaying is Wallace’s demand everyone continue to defer to CDC director Robert Redfield, along with Fauci and Birks. Has he forgotten the CDC’s testing disaster from which we have yet to recover? Fauci’s flip-flops on the severity of the disease. In March, masks they deemed only useful to medical personnel.
Doctors Atlas, Katz, and I argued that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing were needed where the truly vulnerable were. We knew about nursing homes, assisted living, and other places the compromised resided. Yet they received little or none. Mask s and tests went elsewhere. Worse, some states even sent infected people to nursing homes. The result was 40-50% of all our deaths were in nursing homes.
Now the left-wing narrative has evolved 180 degrees to mandatory mask-wearing. Instead of the consistent Dr.Atlas message of PPE should be used wherever the compromised are present, now they say everyone must wear a mask everywhere. We don’t need the police tasering a young woman with her kids at a youth football game for not wearing a mask.. They were sitting well away from everybody. Yes, this actually happened in Logan, Oh. Can we please use some common sense based on the data? Right from the start, face-masks were appropriate in many instances but not necessary in others. Virtue Shaming doesn’t help anybody.
As we’ve seen in Dr. Atlas’ controversy, the result is a nation given two totally opposing narratives rather than useful, reliable information. The “Wallace Method” was on display in the recent Presidential debate. Wallace poses a question in a way that could only frame the President as a racist,
“This month, your administration directed federal agencies to end racial sensitivity training that addresses white privilege or critical race theory. Why did you decide to do that, to end racial sensitivity training? And do you believe that there is systemic racism in this country, sir?”
He followed it up with, “What is radical about racial sensitivity training?” Apparently, Wallace was unaware of what was banned and why. Has he even read anything, Christopher F. Rufo of the City Journal, wrote? Rufo’s articles were an impetus to the Executive Order. Wallace and others can read his latest in the Wall Street Journal, The Truth About Critical Race Theory. It was written in response to Wallace’s biased debate questioning. Maybe Chris Wallace would be comfortable being forced to sit through re-education sessions. More likely, he had no idea what the hate America the training consisted. If he did , he’s further off the rails than anyone thought. Does Wallace think the New York times “1619 Project” is real history? His answer might tell us all we need to know.
We’d like to think there are reporting icons casting a wide net to get all the facts and data possible. Instead, we have mindless contributors to political narratives. The likes of Chris Wallaces, the Ny Times and Bob Woodwards owe their profession and us better. Presented as pillars of their trade, it turns out neither Wallace nor Woodward could take the time to Google to get things right. I pointed out in Books and Biden, Woodward’s latest book is destroyed by a simple timeline.
When you find the ‘Nation’s Best Interviewer” only takes information from the left, you have to wonder if there is anyone in media we can trust. This can’t be good for America. We need better than “The Wallace Method” from our journalists.