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Unmasking the media 

Take a peek behind what national broadcast reporters convey while covering themselves and the pandemic

Oh, I just love it when a "national" broadcast news reporter submerges himself or herself in the hoary depths of a debacle. This is where they gain their stripes. This is raw reporting at its finest.

Over the ages, news reporters have strived to hurl themselves into the teeth of a storm, or war, or a Justin Bieber concert. The finest moments come with a trench coat while clutching a telephone pole as the category 5 hurricane scours the surrounding terrain like a "freight train" leaving a "war zone" with "trees snapping like matchsticks." And there, in the middle of it all ... is the intrepid reporter, body waving horizontally, lips flapping in the 157 mph wind.

And throughout it all, they are appropriately dressed. Mujahideen turbans in Afghanistan. Burkas in Iraq. And trench coats everywhere.

So it is with the virus I call "Phil." This is "war" in the absence of war, and national broadcast news reporters are embracing it with the full measure of zeal and appropriate dress. In this case, with the face mask.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing face masks. Worn in the appropriate setting along with at least a 6-foot zone of demarcation and a Taser, face masks can help to prevent the spread of Phil. But that's not the case with the national TV reporters I'm watching at this moment on the evening news as the anchor appears with a Zoom meeting/Brady Bunch display next to him where every reporter is wearing a mask.

The face mask has been hijacked as a virtue-signaling device like a bumper sticker on a Subaru. Reporters are visibly demonstrating their "high moral standards," when in most cases where they report from the mask is about as useful as a goose-down parka in a summer grassfire. Come to think of it, the mask would be a good thing in a grassfire.

But that's not where these important broadcast people are. They're in the middle of a Kmart parking lot in Secaucus. Or on an empty beach in Lavallette or Neptune. Or in desolate midtown Manhattan. You could fire an Exocet missile down Broadway these days and never hit anyone except perhaps the Naked Cowboy. But they're there. Fearless reporters all, wearing the mask.

(Insider's note: Most of these dufuses don't even write their own copy. They have producers who march to the orders of the East Coast Blue Blood Elite Network Managers, who have an agenda. Oh yes they do.)

And come to think of it part deux: They're all on the East Coast, and that's the problem. Most national media reside in the New York/Washington, D.C., corridor, and that's the lens through which they view the rest of the country. They think they are us. Since they've got it bad, they just assume the rest of us should suffer along with them.

Well, I feel bad for them, but I don't suffer with them. I've got my own stuff to deal with. It's like denying the whole fourth grade class peanut butter sandwiches because one student has an allergy. I get it. But what about the rest of us out here in the hinterlands? You know, "If we can prevent just one death" ... from despair, fear, anxiety, joblessness, homelessness, alcoholism, domestic abuse, heart attack, stroke, drug addiction, suicide. Post those statistics in bold print alongside the anchor, instead of virus stats, as if they're doing body counts during the Vietnam War. Aren't those economic lost lives equal in value to lives lost to the virus?

The reality is, we had it first. This is pretty clear now. I can't tell you how many people have said that they had a nasty unexplained illness here on the Central Coast long before we even heard of this virus thing called by many names. That includes my own family and friends. And there's a good explanation. California has/had a robust air bridge between us and China, where the virus began.

And since it comes from China, on the other side of the Pacific, we would naturally be the first to be infected, as recent studies out of Stanford and USC are confirming. Then it travels all the way to the East Coast. And to the East Coast from the other side of the Atlantic as well. So we've had it. Now they've got it. Such is life.

Well, here's the deal. Don't listen to these broadcast numbskulls. They spew negativity and divisiveness. Take charge of your own life. You know what is best for you. Wear a mask if you wish. But no mask can protect us from fear and despair and putting our lives on hold while the illuminati lecture us from afar. Respect your neighbor. Exercise common sense and cleanliness and responsibility. If you are among the "vulnerable," stay home. But for God's sake, let's get back to business.

The more we learn, the less we have to fear. And we've learned a lot. But not from the myopic mask-wearing posers on the "national" TV news. And I guarantee you the mask comes off once the camera is off. Δ

John Summer spent many years imbedded in the world of broadcast journalism and managed to survive unscathed. At least he thinks so. He writes from San Luis Obispo. Send your thoughts, comments, and opinionated letters to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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