I dread watching these daily coronavirus briefings. And here is why. I have been around politics and politicians long enough to know that it is all about messaging and framing. Everything is staged, including these briefings. The language used is tested to provoke the desired response. There is literally a whole industry that exists to help politicians figure out the psychological and behavioral methods of manipulating people. If you haven’t read about it, it might be hard to spot. When you do know about it, it can only disgust and depress you that this is what we have come to. How about a little real straight talk?
So yesterday’s briefing was more of the same. The Governor started off with thanking the journalists for promoting “fact over fear”, which I couldn’t decide whether to puke or laugh at. Minnesota journalists have basically given the Governor a pass, not asking obvious difficult questions. They have also been more than happy to promote the Governor’s fear-mongering, instead of giving people facts about their true risk.
As usual, we got a heavy dose of fear-mongering, with the Governor constantly referring to “danger” and the need to “be safe”. I have now published several posts, and will continue to do so showing that for children, this disease is less threatening than flu and a hundred other causes of death, including child abuse. It isn’t much riskier for young and middle-aged adults. The Governor should stop the fear-mongering, it is causing people to avoid health care, be anxious and will delay the return of any kind of economy. But he has to scare people now to justify the irrational shutdown and stay-at-home orders.
He talked about how is working to re-open the economy, which is total BS because nothing he has done has stemmed the continuing loss of jobs in the state. He supposedly opened up 100,000 jobs last week by allowing some manufacturing to return and then claimed 30,000 people could go back to work in retail this week. His new fake statistic is that 91% of workplaces are open and available for people to work. None of this means anything–the truth is found by looking at the unemployment claims number, which just continues to rise and rise. The Governor has not once acknowledged the actual number of laid-off Minnesotans or had one of them up at the podium with him. People are afraid to go back to work and people are afraid to go out and shop freely because of his terror-inducing statements. He acknowledges the need to build “confidence” but fails to acknowledge his own role in sowing fear.
He is setting up a council to “reimagine” Minnesota’s economy. Only in government could someone think this means anything. What a load of crap. The Governor has already reimagined the economy, with a lot fewer jobs and a lot of businesses that will be closed and gone for good.
He brought up Worthington, where the meat-packing plant outbreak has been centered, and uses that as a reason for caution. But we never hear what is actually happening in the 1100 cases there. I am betting that is because almost all the cases are mild and asymptomatic. There has been one death in Noble county, where Worthington is located, but I believe that was of a long-term care resident.
He also dragged people up to podium again to support his policies. In the case of one, the head of Minnesota’s hospitality trade group, there was clear reluctance and pain to be the Governor’s stooge.
In the question and answer session, he got testy when asked whether he was acting unilaterally. We got some information consistent with the non-existent risk among children. Day care centers have been open for children of certain workers. Apparently there have been no meaningful levels of infections or issues among either the children or staff. And last but not least, here is a prime example of the messaging mentality. Jan Malcolm was asked a question about young people, she started to refer to “school closure”, got almost to the end, and switched to “distance learning”.
I am sure there will be more fun and games at today’s briefing.