The deliberate panic created over the coronavirus is not victimless. Far from it.
When the radioactive dust settles from this orchestrated panic-strategy, potentially hundreds of billions will have been lost, thousands of businesses closed, and millions of employees fired. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by almost 1,500 points.
When the coronavirus first reared its ugly head, many in the media instantly saw it as a cheap and easy way to increase clicks, newspaper sales, viewers, listeners, and most especially ad revenue.
In the guise of “informing the public,” they intended to run scare headlines and stories to spike attention to their sites. And run them, they did.
One of the oldest axioms in the news business being: “If it bleeds, it leads.” The coronavirus was tailor-made for that requirement.
Except, now even the media executives pushing the scare tactics for hoped-for increased ad revenue have realized they went way too far and opened a Pandora’s Box they are unable to close.
The economic devastation ignited by the deliberate panic strategy is spreading like an unchecked wildfire.
In addition to the massive financial loss to our nation and the world is the haunting psychological trauma inflicted on untold millions now terrorized by the prospect of getting the virus.
Naturally, once it was clear that the panic was not only taking hold but spreading, craven politicians predictably jumped into the echo chamber to scream “The Sky is Falling” for partisan or self-serving reasons.
Well, how do you like what you’ve all done now?
The CDC reports that during the six-month run of SARS in 2003, (which was also a coronavirus) it cost the world an estimated $40 billion.
But, that $40 billion should not be viewed as some cold statistic. Rather it should and must be seen as the devastation inflicted upon real business, real jobs, and real lives. Don’t see numbers. Instead, visualize the faces of the thousands to hundreds of thousands of human beings who lost their jobs as their companies were either forced to cut back or go out of business altogether.
The panic created over this current coronavirus already far exceeds that of the SARS pandemic of 2003. Seemingly exponentially so.
That being the case, it’s safe to assume that when it’s all said and done and this strain of the coronavirus has run its course – as it will with a far smaller infection and fatality rate than the yearly flu — the financial punishment to businesses and the living and breathing human beings they employ will not only be far greater than the $40 billion in 2003, but truly catastrophic.
In 1987, when Raymond Donovan, former secretary of Labor under President Ronald Reagan, was rightfully acquitted of a smear-campaign and criminal charge, he famously asked: “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?”
Now, with potentially thousands of businesses about to close and collectively millions of people about to be (or already) fired from their jobs, where do those business owners and their employees go to get their livelihoods back?
Can they — and should they — be allowed to enter into a class-action lawsuit against those who willingly created a panic for ratings, ad revenue and political advantage.
I submit it’s a very legitimate question.
Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official. This article first appeared at issuesinsights.com.