Cheap Seats 2017
The Pres v the Press – Part 2 - 04/05
By Rich Trzupek
To continue on last week’s rant: we live in interesting times. The world grows more complex every day and the mainstream media’s self-imposed mission to distill the complex down to the simple results in too many media outlets who do a completely crap job of reporting about nuanced issues they don’t understand.
Prez The Donald is pushing back. He’ll be right sometimes and he’ll be wrong sometimes, but the larger point is that we all need to push back. We should expect, and we deserve, more from journalists of all sorts than simply repackaging the talking points that coincide with their world view.
In my not-so-humble opinion, Robert Kennedy Jr’s ridiculous quote regarding vaccinations is a perfect, non-partisan case-in-point. Bobby Jr. said the following: “On one hand, the government is telling pregnant women which mercury-laced fish to avoid so that they don’t harm their fetuses, and on the other, the CDC supports injecting mercury-containing vaccines into pregnant women, infants and children.”
Kennedy is certainly entitled to say whatever he chooses to say, no matter how moronic, but a responsible, accountable press should not publish such idiotic remarks without doing, or at least attempting to do, a little homework.
Little Bobby is pushing a theory that has no scientific basis what-so-ever: that some compounds are inherently “toxic” and others are not. That’s simply not true.
Back in the 16th century, Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, the founder of toxicology otherwise known as Paracelsus established the scientific principle that “the dose makes the poison”. Or, put another way, everything is toxic and nothing is toxic.
The element sodium provides an easy example. If you have too little sodium in your body, you will die, because it’s a vital electrolyte. If you have too much sodium in your body, you will also die, because it acts as a poison above a given concentration.
All elements and all compounds behave in the same sort of way. Not every element or compound is vital – I don’t think anybody requires beryllium to live for example – but there are definable concentrations of every compound that will do no harm and definable concentrations of every compound that will.
The risk of chemical exposure isn’t simply about the chemical. It’s about the exposure route, the length of exposure, the health of the person exposed and, most of all, about the concentration to which one is exposed. Kennedy’s moronic attempt to conflate all of those issues into a “mercury is always bad” argument has no scientific basis. None.
The CDC advises pregnant women to limit their mercury exposure because, during pregnancy, a fetus undergoing gestation is particularly sensitive to development birth defects attributable to relatively low concentrations of mercury and that exposure is direct through the umbilical cord. On the other hand, a healthy, viable infant is at far-less developmental risk, the infant’s doctor can control and monitor the dosage of the vaccine and its effects, and the benefits of immunity to childhood diseases far outweighs the vague, ultimately unproven risks that vaccine opponents cite.
Again, Kennedy is a fool, but he is a prominent fool and part of the presses’ job is to record and report the utterances of prominent fools. But, does not the press also have an obligation to vette such opinions? Nothing makes Kennedy an expert about vaccines or toxicology other than his claim to be such. In my ideal world, I long for a press that features journalists who not only doubt what anyone says, but who feel that it is their duty to personally understand and relate the nuances of the issue in question. In that world, Kennedy would be exposed for being the fraud that he is.
That is, of course, not what we have today. We don’t have journalists on the national stage, we rather have cheerleaders. Arguably, The Donald has done some things right and some things wrong, but taking on the MSM has been one of the highlights of his Presidency. I hope he keeps it up.