Can You Trust People in a Pandemic? Writer, editor, and author James B. Meigs joins the COMMENTARY podcast to discuss his essay in the latest issue of the magazine, “Elite Panic vs. the Resilient Populace.” How one disaster tells the tale of American ingenuity and how they are so often not trusted to do the right thing by their leaders in government.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Welcomes the Commentary magazine Daily podcast today is ordinarily tax day April, fifteen twenty twenty. But of course no one is paying. Their taxes today, I am John PA towards the editor of commentary with me, as always senior editor, a Remould high Abe, I jump writer Christine rose and high Christine Hygiene and socially
the editor nor Rossman High Moua, who paid and filed in full, like a boob John, you know what you're not a booby adjusted responsible does citizen. I can give you a boob happily and joining us today, podcast. Her veteran journalist, editor of several magazines, freelance offer James be MEG's, who has an article in the which you can read right now on the commentary magazine website in from our May issue the right. Now, if you look at the website, it says it's in the April issue, so just bear with us called ah elite panic versus the resilient.
Populist Jim welcome to the Commentary Magazine Daily Bike Ass, a great to be here long time listener. I will thank you, Sir We are what we the big, the Big NEWS last night, and we will forget get to this tomorrow on tomorrow's pike, s life, because of its. It deserves a long discussion of its own, but was Donald Trump us spending the american continent. Mission to the World Health Organization pending a review of its conduct. The early very early stages of the pandemic, refusing to declare an emergency due to the outbreak in China, except chinese propaganda uncritically defending China against the idea that perhaps something was going on untoward I'd, not not try
figure out what was going on with healthcare professionals who were sounding the alarm in rule Hon. And all of that and predictably trumps call was met with the pub lovin response of his antagonist that this was a terrible crime. Although people people did see
to be acknowledging at least where I saw it on social media that, yes, the W H shows response was flawed and it's a flawed agency and we really need to examine its flaws, but dad. This is a terrible thing. That's going on in its just trump attempting to pass the buck to flat criticism and that this all comes on the heels of the first good news. Like unambiguously good news of the of the pandemic during this time, which is not only a flattening of the curve in New York, but a real sense that the curve has been bending back on itself. Ah
That is not just that we plateau, but that the number of cases is now going down as an absolute number. Obviously, it's terrible the death toll is terrible, but the portents for the future, at least here in New York City in particular, are our favourable and suggest that the measures that have been taken to combat the virus like extreme social distancing and the shutdown of the economy and all that are having the effect that they were intended to have so that guesses, like basically where we ve Dar this morning right am I missing anything. Knelt and sound all right? So does anyone have anything to say about the w about at Trump and W H? Oh, I don T know. I generally think that this is warranted politically
At the same time its, I only think I'm writing about this. It seems like an own goal than the objective at this particular moment, is to highlight chinese mendacity, the flawed and an falsified data that lead experts around the world to pursue a course of action. That was disastrous and the debate show abetted that effort even with the best of intentions, but nevertheless, but the objective here is to highlight chinese mendacity and the political leadership within them. The w h are, which is the problem, not the the medical work that it doesn't, particularly at this time it gives it It's sort of the impression that your martyring, this organization, which gives the european leaders and out that we desperately want not confront China and just another efficacy that this is gonna have considering that Congress procreates this money right, it's funneled into the h, W H, home
through grants? So a lot of this is unworthy. It sort of I think the United States behind on a lot of this anyway, but I might be surprised if one dollar of. U S. Funding didn't arrive at the doubly way show after this review process, so essentially this creating a political narrative around problem. Very little action and I don't see how its advantageous for the White House, because what they want to do is highlight China on China's problem and how international institutions are beholden to China, not make a mortar out of those international institutions per se. That just gives everybody and opportunity to miss the missed the real target here. Ok, so I say to visit outside precisely today knows actually right, because the timing of this would have been much more effective. As both as a matter of historical record, which I do think its import that we that we make sure wish we don't
come to what the Chinese have been trying to do in recent months, which is changed. The story about how this unfolded in China and the rest of the world this would have been useful right at the beginning of the epidemic too, to highlight what we were seeing on social media and a few other places where chinese doctors in whew hand were saying this is a problem. They were sounding the alarm. They were being silenced by their own government, would have been the moment for american leadership to stand up and say you know we're seeing stuff that these World health organisation is either downplaying or not even mentioning. We know, China is isn't it return regime that tends to silence critics. We should be extremely sceptical about any data coming out of of China. Urged World Health Organisation report that would have been useful as a corrective to some of the misleading, propaganda we are saying, but now I agree with no at the timing- is- is kind of wrong, even though the impulse to hold the who accountable is correct quickly. Let me just we had a conversation, less light in which I ice. I said
up always needs anatomy and of there's been a problem for him in this virus fight, in that the virus is not an enemy. Not really living thing in this bizarre thing that viruses are, and so it has, though we know how will it is not doing anything by choice and so Oh, he seems after the controversy over the weekend over whether or not he had total authority, or the governors had told her. The governors as the enemy didn't seem to work and that now how he has an enemy in the enemy S, W h Ellen. At least that is a creditable I would just say if this is what you need the w. I chose at least had a double enemy. If what you are looking for is a villain that allowed the virus to you veto catch hold,
yeah. I mean at I'd like to think we could do both, which is to say that we could hold China accountable and hold those international bodies that become funeral cats, pause fur authoritarian, accountable. At the same time, I verily believe we can just now so jet curricular moment can make it difficult for Jim MEG, so the peace that we wanted to the we invited you want to talk about. Raises want, which is which is about an incident in american history, a terrible earthquake that data that destroyed parts of Anchorage Alaska, nineteen sixty four, that the article which has centre a book called this, is chance by John welcome the thing it is so striking about your piece is that it goes into this phenomenon. You call elite panic or her
or is called elite panic, which right yeah, I do wonder at you know it's a term that used by there's a branch of social scientist studies disasters in this the term the basically means when the people in positions of a thaw. Party worry that their own population is gonna. Ah freak out panic, loot do all kinds of bad. Things that interfere with what all this the proper properly designated authorities need to do. That's what's known as elite panic, so the question I guess about the W H show were whose conduct or the organization of the political leaders conduct is kind of baffling to the extent that the kind of the defence of China, the acceptance of China's detail, are the Refusal
declare a state of emergency and the continued kind of acceptance of the narrative. The China On the one hand, the disease wasn't that bad somehow, and on the other hand, China was really fantastic in its response to it, I wonder whether, if the W H shows constituency in some bizarre way as the entire planet earth, whether if you want to look at this as a mistake made in good faith which, in my not have been a whether that is a species of elite panic that actually involved the entire globe. I think you could see it that way. I'm not ready to give debited showed that much credit, but it is very typical that an situation
of impending disaster that people imposition of authorities issue these false reassurances? I mean the biggest part of elite. Panic is being worry that the public's gonna so you know you saw that with merit applause YO, he defended his statements, telling people they should. About their lives, or he was still saying that into MID march. Other people too, but their lives, and we got it under control and later he defended it to Jake, tapir unseen and by saying, while of course, we don't want people to panic and all over the world. You heard people say this well, we can't I had to say this, because you know you can't let people panic, but what would people do? What would panic look like what we learn from disasters is people
very rarely panic. I usually people handle bad news pretty well, and yet it's the authorities who thinking that protecting the public often give people a false sense of security will so the this is, I think, a fascinating aspect of the communications around this and you go into in this. In this article, you explain that the authorities in Anchorage and and add value and an end in the state and in and sort of federally were almost entirely incompetent and that, while their incompetence was going on a ray, I, a radio, broadcaster harnessed and report, they don T x.
To the crisis, with results that are almost supernatural that you had this. Was it six point? Nine some well that relevant. My thing with nine, I think, was nine point one. It was the only us Six point: nine, some! Well that relevant. My thing with nine, I think, with nine point one it was the only as second most powerful earthquake ever recorded an end who it was just a stroke of luck that had happened a hit, one of the most least populated areas on the planet, Bob anchored as the only major city in Alaska, the time of the population, but a hundred thousand, so they got hammered and a lot of villages got hit. But you know was nothing like what would happen if a similar earthquake that hit outside of say at Seattle right, but the death toll,
What is a step which, when all is said and done, the death toll was astoundingly low right. It was like under ten or some yes yeah. I think they finally and Anchorage they vague, arrived a number of about six people dad and exactly a lot of the reason that so many people were rescued so quickly was not because the authorities had a good plan in place and rushed out, but because, almost as soon as a shake, stopped ordinary citizens, just swarmed into action, others one story- an end to the John. While a book about a team of people who got together to try to get this huge, concrete slab added crushed a station wagon down, it was only credit data like too Hi, but there was a woman still alive in there and they got a couple, a toe trucks, and they pulled this lab apart. Somebody else had a cutting. Torture and got any cut a hole in the roof, and these were just passers by
and yet somehow they organise themselves into this very effective rescue party in this house, in all over anchorage at a time when the authorities I once had they were totally incompetent. They were just overwhelmed and they didn't know what to focus on at first but the, but the ordinary people swung into action. They saved a lot of lives. Right, so that that that raises again this question of Trump having this fight over the We all over beyond starting, I guess Monday or whenever was about whether or not he had the absolute authority, reopen the government or were govern had the absolute authority or who has the authority in the president's, speaks in the world trembles and, of course, we ve been saying on the podcast castle. I think is self evidently the case that the government didn't shut the country down the people shot, the country down the people stopped participating in the.
Economic life of the country. We entered the city, particularly here in New York or something weeks before the government swung into action and declared the part should be closed and theatre should be closed and stuff like that, that you know businesses were Dan. Eighty ninety percent restaurants were effectively shuddered nobody was going to them and all of that and that once again we have this confusion between top down governance, which all politicians love to believe is why people hire them and what actually happens when there is a crisis, which is that people the care of their own. Exactly, I think anyone whose at all Klein towards libertarianism. Oh, would see a pause
message out of a lot of disasters, not just the Alaska Earthquake, which is that left to their own devices. People are pretty good at organizing resilient responses to these problems. It doesn't mean, if not also a role for government and ultimately in Alaska Thee, the fire department, Police Department, the volunteers, all figured out ways to work together on some of the problems that they were facing, but the, but the typical instinct of people authority is to think we need to have the people with the highest authority have the most control. We can't have people swarming through the streets. We can't have people make their own decisions. We need a clampdown on everything you make out, make sure everybody follows the rules or else there's gonna, be chaos and we certainly saw that in this in this- the way the CDC and the FDA, for example, you know didn't want, allow anybody else to administer any task that debt hadn't did not originate with the CDC and
I'm telling you get into the peace is also about the way, the elite bureaucrats and remember else when they get into this. Panic, Modi withhold information because they think that the information that the public will but won't be able to handle information particularly of itself, bad news and- and that will also induce panic when thick and thinking now. In terms of John was saying about how the public shut down the country, essentially how public perhaps could relied on to do so earlier had it had in from if an earlier about about how deadly and fast spreading, but the virus actually was
Edward? I just want to add to it, I know, is to enable saying, because my question here in your excellent piece- the role of the media in the Alaskan, the response to the Alaska Earthquake- was starkly different than the role the media now plays cause. I would think now we would categorize problem. The media as part of the elite. That's trying to downplay things, withhold information, and I wonder if you could and answering a question if you could also sort of tells a little bit about what you see as a transformation, the media's role from elite in an elite, panic situations, then- and now that's it. That's a really interesting point. Yet so the book centres on this this, this broadcaster genie chance of thirty six year old mother, three who just happened to be in the middle of it all incredibly resourceful. Ultimately, she sets up a broadcast booth right in the middle of the of the building where the police and fire in everybody's concentrated. Police and fired apartments and dumb and just starts put out information over the radio and everybody had transistor radios back then so
even though the powers out everybody, listen, listen to her through that first called dark night in the days afterwards and the Romania, was really really helpful. The people- and it wasn't all good information- wasn't all sugar coated today. I think we have two different media, as we have a kind of elite media. That often seems did, I think, see its job as constantly kind of fact check. In or are running a kind of a political counter message to two tromp in real time. You know you see that allowed the press, conferences and lot of the coverage, but but don't forget, we also have a different media on on social media. With all the criticism we ve all made of social media in the last few years, I think we ve all found,
solves relying on so amazing resources that are becoming up through four may, mostly through twitter, for many a through Facebook, a lot of good science, a lot of good information, yes in their bend of the occasional ridiculous conspiracy theories and stuff, but I think All of us who followed this stuff. We were learning a lot about this. This virus in this coming pandemic even while people in positions of authority were were making claims, that it was all under control, and we didn't need to worry. There was an all the channel- and I do think that was starting to influence public opinion even before the governors of the merest issuing knees. Ah, these shut down orders right. Will you you know, as you describe a Genie chances role, she became a kind of citizen broadcaster, that is to say
She was conveying information both from authorities and from ordinary citizens. She was a kind of bulletin board, a central You know you know one of those which boards where people would. You know call in where tellers I she would say. Oh there's, you know people need help at fifth and main someone seems to be trapped in the rubble. Can you go help or than informing them, and that the idea was that the entire bias was toward the most information that could be got now and maybe, as with all journalism, some of it was an accurate or so that we know wasn't precise or wasn't, calibrated and that you know you do people and injustice to assume that they are unable or unwilling or or incapable of understanding that, in the midst of a crisis, the the
sure is going to be necessarily haphazard and you know Sarah, like you no point to list, rather than in a rather than. Fully evident and that the under sentence of the of the sort of elite treatment of the of the populace. I think really gets at a terrible flaw in our understanding of the United States, which is the subject of my in the May issue, a short matters letter. This is a self governing society. We are the bosses and employers of the politicians. We do not work for them. They work for us and went when Trump start saying things like my authority is absolute or the president. When the president's speaks authorities, absolute, obviously he's not a political fee.
Rather than he is responding to. Trends are ideas of the day, but he has also responding to way kind of diseased understanding of the proper relationship between leaders between the people that we hire to run the governments and the bosses could well said that gender based on greater that's a mighty like biggest issue right now, and that gets to something that I wanted to ask him about lessons that you think you can draw from the experience that you chronicled in another
Sixty four peace, because, if people are being if, if the standard model is utterly panic, is to fear what people will do with bad news, unqualified bad news we are experiencing now a fear of what people will do with unqualified good news, the the concern with which you can probably detect how people might react to the notion that were beating the models, for example, where qualified out you know into just oblivion. The objective in the normal pan in the normal disaster is to prevent people from engaging in anti social behaviour and is the opposite: right. We want to stop people from engaging in prose social behaviour. So, to what extent can we draw lessons from past disasters where there's rubble and fire and death and bodies in the streets with this very different experience? While I think the first lesson is just that honesty is best and if people think you're
aiding the truth for some other purpose. You know maybe you're giving them false assurances and then you lose their trust. Then then no communications, gonna work. We saw that after the book. A she me ogg Daiichi meltdowns after the big soon Ami in Japan, in two thousand and eleven, the government briefings were kind of confusing people. Thought they were may be hiding the truth. In the end, the radiating from that accident was far less than people feared. The health impacts were were pretty much non existent bud d, but the public lost faith and- and I think that what and that when the public loses fate, they turn to other sources and that's when conspiracy theories start to thrive or people just decide. I'm just gonna make up my own, but you know that you're thinking to do whatever so when, when the pandemic
getting worse, we had a tendency to downplay the bad news now that it's getting better, I think, there's some in the media has been a little reluctant to to talk about the rate at which you know, ah hospitalizations and stuff. Our fallen, because they don't want people to get complacent or to relax too soon. I just think you don't Oh, how people can react exactly you shouldn't try to gain the system. You should just give him the that the facts, as you know them when you know them right. So the facts in this case would be. Ok. Here's the situation. This fact that This fact the other fact we're having success, but you know the viruses unending, at least until we need only scintilla things way a warm up at them. We see whether or not it burns off the summer, and so There is every likelihood that a less thing of the structures-
will lead to an optic or or or a or a new veracity from from the covert nineteen. So that's the information and make your job judgment, whereas you do have a lot of this shut up, he exclaimed stuff. Somebody does a post on rights of post on medium that assembles that is assembles bunch of data may be misunderstands it or whatever, suggesting that
There's been no reaction to the virus and the and the impulse of actual people in the press is to say, take it down. Take it down silence this it's bad and people are going to so it's all this. Just people are going to die you let Trump talk about hydrochloric, queen and people are gonna, die you let this have you? No let trumped go on for two hours and people are gonna die and this peculiar impulse. To shut people up, seems to be a feature of what Christine was talking about right. Christine like this is a weird, this is a weird of cumulative effect of the Trump era that suddenly journalists are. Saying we should not allow people to listen to the president. The united, we should do whatever we can to make sure that people don't listen to the President of the United States.
Is it, but in its that it see, the motivation for doing so is claimed to be this kind of morally superior effort to protect these stupid Americans who might listen to their president and do when he says I mean that the amount of carbon tension. There is there is that Condescension, I think, is really linked to the mistrust issue which Jim was argue about earlier, and its hugely important in the midst of a crisis when you're, when actually do have more informational channels and you're trying to sort through all the information coming out you and figure out, which is reliable and which is not, and I do think that that where the elite media that sort of mainstream media that conservatives are, I think, appropriately off in a little over eager to criticise, but in this case, has been playing a an advocacy, roll on Behalf of their institutions that are necessarily helping Americans make the right kind of decisions.
And if I can jump in on a drag and drop in on that, this is actually a long standing tendency in the media, which is this idea in a disk. It's kind of like a slow motion I believe panic. It's a very low opinion of average Americans to think that, for example, if they know the race of someone who committed a crime there, all gonna, go out and start lynching people or if you give them too much information about this incident or that incident we don't know how they're gonna react. So we need to cover up certain facts. We need to are not as a cover the mob just not covered them. Very much we need to decide what information is best for people, because the american people can't be trusted not to fly off the handle and and do something really bad or you know, they're all gonna go home and start eating fish tank cleaner. You know if they haven't impress thin mentioned some. You know
medication, and- and that's not a new thing- that's been going on for a long time. Can I ask Can I just to interrupt without with a story from my childhood that I think reveals this, though, for many different reasons. I grew up on the upper West side of Manhattan and nineteen. Seventy two nineteen, seventy three, something like that there was cereal Mueller later of small boys, who came to be known in the neighbourhood as as Charlie, chop off or chop off Charlie, because he he castrated, he would take kids and castrate them killed. One castrated five! over this space of thirteen months end up in an area between like a hundred and second and Broadway, I'm a hundred and seventh and Columbus, so it was actually
on a very large area. That's that's! Not even the miles like half a mile swear at most, maybe a third of a mile swear. So this was a very difficult story at the time because it involved graphic sexual mutilation right. So that was something that people did not write about. Our talk about in the elite media. The tabloid culture of New York had not yet really started cause Riverboro had not yet Then your posts, which is a very sleepy liberal, analytical tabloid and the Daily NEWS, which was a very successful tabloid, wasn't really guenaud driven
by horror stories and was mostly focused on other boroughs outside of Manhattan and the taught the New York Times wrote in the course of thirteen months. Five articles about this five, all of them buried I'm back pages with with a lot of euphemisms by the time the crime had sorted it had become a neighborhood panic. The MIT be put fifty but has started a division. You knowing a fifty percent taskforce. Are they never caught him? He stopped working. I have no idea who was here. This is an unsolved crime. Fifty years later, What was interesting about this was that the times which was the only paper
it would have mattered and covering it couldn't cover it because a there was there were sexual mutilation to tails they could not. They did not feel comfortable revealing to their readers because of the graphic and vulgar nature of it be. The killer was said to be black or hispanic, which was also deeply discuss. To them and you did not wanted, as gives either one alike, have everybody in the neighborhood looking askance it. You know that every black and hispanic person, and and so something that five years later would have been the biggest story in Amerika for a year. For you know, it's like son of SAM. Only worse is unknown today, because
Gatekeepers in New York in the New York media, about by would present here comes, was uncovering at the television stations didn't cover it either, oddly enough, because the times governed the city's new structure. So there you have an example of a more reticent time. More Europe controlled time in which the idea was a wooden disturb them on the basis of sex crime because they couldn't handle it. Is that you did not write about it. Bearded want to foment race war and see you could actually six
in silencing that everybody in my neighborhood knew about it. My parenting, a parent, stop letting kids go out by themselves. This is years before the fame is eight time pots case method. Kids were no longer going out by themselves in New York, but that wasn't the case in nineteen. Seventy two or seventy three whatever year was at this happened. So that's elite panic in a different realm. That was arguing that arguably cost could have caused too little boys. You know their their futures and one of them his life because it was improperly and it was under covered for this. This very real. So this is a trend forever and, of course, you know one of the great stories and urban life is that the crime rate but form the crime surge in my
in sixty four was always abnormally and falsely low, because neither the police nor the media reported on crime waves in minority. Neighborhoods people didn't report them to the cops Their word. There were no reporters in Harlem other reporters, didn't work, Harlem and so who knows what the actual crime rate was in bad neighborhoods, because people didn't When people didn't write about it and there was no transmit, there was no ability to transmit news beyond Europe. Europe, beyond that the gatekeepers, so in that sense, social media or somebody like Genie Chance of Anchorage who was, of course working on a broadcast network but could have had am radio inhabited people that people couldn't get a trance couldn't get him on their transition regions. I guess, but will effectively turned into something
there are then a member of the media right. She was a public citizen. Fighting information to other citizens? Ok, well, that's so this crisis been typifies the essentially by that level of mistrust anyway, right if it was a bottom up effort and their sort of a lot failed recollections about how this worked. There was an effort to downplay the virus, even as the public was withholding demand was stopping going out and presenting restaurants with an existential crisis while before they receive easy guidance, limiting people too. We have fifty people gatherings or state level closures. People started closing up shop and then he knows about municipal and data, whence followed and then the federal government followed rights are opening up, should follow a similar pattern. Individuals will assess the relative level of risk started to present businesses. Local businesses with renewed demand those local businesses
not major conglomerates with national chains or what have you been local businesses will make that assessment so far as there is a legal capacity for them to do so, open up right, independent of the press, independent state governments in federal government and the bedroom. Well, that's the difficulty here Isn't it is. That is that we have this kind of strange by four created thing where you have the public responding with prudence or, as we kept saying, an abundance of caution before before them, virus really hit the country in preparation, likely saving tens of thousands of lives without government action and now of the government involved, and this incredible confusion about what it means to reopen what does it mean? Nobody knows what it means I been tried. Trump concerned may first, where reopened and that its meaningless
has, as Christine said the other day, let's open the schools up and then one one kid one cafeteria worker or one teacher contracts the virus and then not only do closer schools. But you have a class action soon against the schools for dangering the welfare not only of the kids but of everybody works there one case because you actually have four dollars right. You know that you know that people are gonna, get sick after the reopening. So what is the liability level going to be? And so that's what what happens when government gets involved in these? These decisions is the isn't it it not that it doesn't have to to it has. But this is that's why this is unprecedented. We don't have a bottle to follow
already seeing episodes of civil disobedience against extremely overreact of, I think, policies like what Gretchen winner in Michigan has implemented nurse zone. The first evidence of a protest against this sort of thing, and it's not the left that is engaging in the service of civil disobedience. It's probably right, leaning. Arrogance for the most part people with families and if only to really in a large led, normally prevent I'm doing this sort of thing, they're free ethic. What one of the uniquely frustrating things about the pandemic is that, unlike the sixty four earthquake. There is very little for responsible citizens to do it is to show that vague that bacon handle this. Well, you the amazing stories, the gym recounts. You know that in a rescue and people from cars and searching for four for survivors an end and that we can't really do much
so I think, should have the only thing left to us eventually is going to be really to show that we can't handle a crisis without panic is, can the american people actually engaged somewhat socially with the economy, grew Julie and do so responsibly. Right like that vat is. That is the task that is, and that is the thing that that is that they fear that that that the elites well Oh and there's the train outside eggs. Have the metro nor someone's myself, I think my podcast studio is- you're. Looking the Metro North train tracks in an empty trains role past my house many times a day, it's amazing anyway. I know I'm am I'm struck by
There's that there's a us a great story about it is really a novelist them. Europe canoe coup in nineteen. Forty eight had two was was I came up with a specific expert he had to lie still for some, like thirty hours, because he was behind enemy law, something happen and he had to lie unmoving For thirty hours, in order to escape, getting killed by the Egyptians. And he had intended to be something other than a writer. I was gonna, be an engineer or something and when he emerged from this he was like. I'm gonna live my life. The way I want to live it because you know and so this is a kind of analogy to what's going on here, which is that we are our service is in stream in the once right now,
that's how we are. That is how we are proving our patriotic contribution to this effort to save lives and and keep the virus from becoming now, keep the pandemic from becoming. You know, at up at an intolerable level, is, is lying in place and it turns out that, like all kinds of weird, challenges like the hands on a hard body test, which is this? This contest in Texas, where you just put your hand on a car, and you just stand there with your hand on the car and then whoever keeps her hand on the car longest gets to keep a car and it turns out people go crazy, they can't eat, they can't I've just stand, there are put their Hannah Car and they start hallucinating
because doing nothing is unbelievably difficult, but this is why I think the mask thing has become such a such a flashpoint culturally for everyone, because you know we were, of course, first told no, don't wear masks sitting when people hoarding masks this as an example, I think of misinformation deliberately spread because of it. Eat panic about hoarding Medical equipment again understood but not the smart thing to do now. We're told you have to sell your own mask gift to tie someone's underwear around. You had a meeting at the number of Youtube videos about things you can tie around your face that don't address you're phobia element of any of this, but I think when you go on public now that the judgment, the implicit social judgment and and Assessments were making of each other, based on whether now you have a mask on is an expression of that everything
else, we do- is private, individual indolence in the service of this larger cause. That is the one public thing you couldn't go out and show look at me. I got my mask on I'm, I'm I'm one of us what the law as it does. In fact, it is the only thing I can think of off the top of my head. Besides staying inside, we note doing all of your other choices and privately that we can signal to each other. So, of course it becomes very controversial but when I was organic, that a greater without state level were federal guidance. In fact, quite the opposite, What are you that this was not gonna end and by the way, putting underwear and has no palliative now now you're, though, there's pollute places there. It certainly in DC there are research. Now that require you to have a face covering in order to limit. So I'm giving out. They're going to run out. So this follows the model individuals act. Businesses respond at Dayton federal government's, follow up, and that's so that's
I mean if this is the model than that is how we reopen, whether whether people, like it or not, and they won't like most likely this little bit. If it follows that model it will occur far faster and in in circumstances that people will find sub optimal, but we really do have to start thinking about the best way, time to do this. Well, that's about the animal time, but some optimal. It is if you, if you want a restaurant or you're a patron of restaurant and real friends and the restaurant can only have half as many be can only serve have as many people as it used to be able to serve in order to have so distancing and the staff has to wear, masks and gloves, and you have to wear a mask. What happens when you have to lift the mask the eat, the food that is being prepared by half the staff so that it comes half an hour later than used to. I mean just like logistically the
I personally feel that way, isn't going or restaurant forget that people, who are the people who do behave that way that we will be presenting demand and the institutions who bought, who don't believe they can survive for another week or two will provide it no will see. I don't know if there is any there's legal capacity for them to do so. I just I don't know. I mean it's like yeah. So most most people aren't gonna go to restaurants of reopening restaurants. The restaurants will close because they won't make enough money. And they already are well it'll, be out only within their actual, both after they reopen because the experience of going to restaurant will not be the experience and people wanted to be or that they are coming
having. I don't know. I'm just say you, notably when you think, through the logistics of this what's different about an earthquake from this, is that, of course, an earthquake ends like a hard movie sequence, where Godzilla says trumps through the scene or something like that and then see the scene is over and then it's like. Ok, Godzilla went somewhere else. So now we can have the exposition of dial organ. Come up with the plot. That's gonna move us into the third act. There is no over here. There's no over. I need to get the over could be that we have an incredibly hot summer, and then it turns out that the virus cancer by the heat like a lot of viruses, but then it could come back. Then the sequel, starts in September. I mean there is no over, so you can't you know it's not like it's over, so Jeannie Chance says: go help getting people out of this
a built in a building with where everything is collapsed, because the building is a disease. So if you go into you'll, get sick or your mother will get sick or something like that. That's why it's so fiendishly differ. To understand how we transition from this shut down mode into less of a shot download seriously Jim. Can we just as spend a minute talking about you cause you're on this podcast either you have been. Talking somewhat critically of the mainstream media, and yet you yourself are a veteran of the mainstream media, yes guilty as charge
oh yeah, I was editor of Popular Mechanics magazine for about ten years and before that, in various other magazines. I've also I've covered entertainment, quite a bit in my career as well. Work at it worked at entertain a weekly of among others, but you know it's funny as a as an editor of a magazine that kind of one or two Heartland, America, popular mechanics, I always felt that there was a there was an audience out there. There was a group of people out there who most my colleagues in Germany in journalism, didn't understand and, in fact kind of, I think, a lot of my friends journalism if they'd, if they thought about the kind of
right, bottom mechanics. It might be a little afraid of that guy, you know, drives a pickup truck and knows how to use a shot, gun, awe and- and I fell routed. The my audience was people that I really respected really self reliant people, people who are really curious about the world want to know how to do. Things wanted to do things for themselves and for other people. One of the stories that we did that had a huge impact on me was right after Hurricane Katrina. One of my writers call me- and he said I know this guy I with a world war to Europe, Huey helicopter unease he's flying to New Orleans right now to go, use it to go rescue people, and he said I could. I could meet him there and we said pact just go and he spent about a week in New Orleans been the days right after the the the hurricane watching. People like that people showed up in there
on helicopters. All these some people have heard about the so called cage Navy. All these kind of I use this term with, with a certain amount of of admiration, these redneck fishing in hunting guides who shot up with their own boats and start. Patrolling the city looking for people to rescue will wait and see a lot of that in the mainstream media. You now Anderson Cooper wasn't out looking for that this. Ah these guys who showed up with their boats to rescue people. Ah- and I at that point I saw that there was a story the media wanted to tell about Katrina. And then there was a story that was actually happening right under their knows that they weren't curious about it all and- and I realise that there is there- a lot going on in our world that that needs to be covered, but it doesn't fit a political agenda of a lot of journalists, including a lot of my friends and then when I would bring the
issues up people would be like. I don't know what you're talking about that. That can't be too. I haven't heard anything about it I didn't. I didn't read that the New York Times this morning. What are you talking about its Paul? It's Pauline Caille ISM. There you have it the famous which were an anecdote? My mother, I think, has given a lot of credit for having now for having popularize thee You know, I don't know how Richard Nixon one in nineteen. Seventy two, nobody, I know voted forum and next in of course, when the largest landslide in american history and nineteen, seventy two they might ice yet, but I really have come away feeling that there is a are there There's a there's a there is a real problem in our journalistic world today, but I Jeanne earlier that the impact of social media. One of the first thing I did when I got to popular mechanics and I'm going back about fifteen years, now was I started hiring bloggers to write. For me, I heard Glenn Reynolds dramatic column, I think is, is first column was why stoplight cameras are bad argued up, that's good! What fate there
and- and I realise that there are people out there who warrant part of the mainstream journalism, establishment to a lot to say really interesting perspectives and and people were really anxious to to get outside of the group. Think of some of the media to day. Don't you think There is also now especially now that there are more options for broadcasting. I also censor the opposite and a different if the challenges. It may three more elite institutions using the stories of wrath, a remarkable and remarkably weird Americans. As entertainment, I mean we've talked it it's the tiger king for not, but I'm right. You know this idea that oh wow find the Corky American, but then exploit them and make them look even more ridiculous and become a trump for another way of thinking. That, in fact reinforces the leaders them that it claims to be undermining by showing you this. If that makes seconds, it makes a lot of that I've just caught little snippets of tyre king but mice,
who, who watched all things that money was done. He was paid in the film makers, right, for that reason. That is a fantastic example of this. You know, because the good the director of Tiger King is a New York, hotelier and club owner who started area, which was one of the happiest clubs in the nineteen eighties and owns the Bowery Hotel, which has a hipster hotel on the Bene: Greenwich Village lorry side- and he made Tiger king because he was a conservationists than he had heard about these aims for private zoos and he wanted to egg thing was interested internals. Actually, I think he was a turtle act with, if somehow and then, and then the story just was so weird and so crazy that it became.
Its own thing, but I think your son is yet is it is, is onto something because the whole, the whole story suggests that the joke at one of them a horrible aspects of it, which are Evan, I thought, was very compelling, but where they make, you believe that Joe Exotic this, you know country western singing Polly amorous gay polygamous got nineteen percent of the vote in in LA in in Oklahoma for governor, when in fact they get. Ninety percent of the liberty six hundred votes since actually date. They literally misrepresent the nature of that election. In order to make it look, as though Joe Exotic is really got hit is is it is a purse
an edge in Oklahoma and really somebody, and so therefore can stand in for the entire redneck culture nothin I was really a red next day, but you know what they're theirs alone. In There- and I mentioned I ve spent a lot of time covering entertainment and movies and won t you see If you look at a lot of documentaries with real scepticism, and I love I loved documentaries, but doctrine documentary film makers do not come out of a journalistic tradition and even the most slanted reporter for the veto, mother Jones say all right. You know our, I know and openly political, ah journalistic outlet, but never try to get away with the the sleight of hand, the dishonesty that a routine and a lot of documentary
is where the narrative trumps everything else and there's no sense of obligation obligation to throw in the cobby out. Counter examples: the denials that that are normally part of any kind of responsible journalism. So you know- and I think that's that's true- even with some most admired documentaries out there. Unfortunately, in and it's it's, and yet at such a powerful medium that it can be very, very persuasive to people who don't know this absolutely wilt Jim eggs. Thank you. So much has been incredibly illuminating. Please everybody go to commentary magazine, dot, com and Red Jim's peace, elite, panic versus the resourceful populous. I you'll find
I believe that this moment, on the right hand, side of our page slightly miss some by the time you hear this we might have moved around but were as I'm speaking it's on the right hand, side of the poor, in the listing that says put from the April twenty. Twenty issue, which it is not its in the May two twenty and twenty issue anyway, maybe by the time you hear this will have it, I would just like to mention that we are ready it's already in this later. Ok, so it's only for his name. I did. So it doesn't get me. It is in our carousel at the top of the page and and so that will be a great help to objective two finding it aren't we I know as a guide and no is doing at first. We so there we go so social media once again provides a that it goes over the heads of the mainstreaming anyway, thank you so much and for aid Christina, no one
I'm words keep the camel burning
Transcript generated on 2020-08-04.