How the coronavirus hype developed

On Fox News Sunday, the headline subject was coronavirus and its effects on the stock market and the economy.

Chris Wallace asked Washington Post journalist Charles Lane, "How big a threat is this pandemic to this country...?"

Lane answered:

So, it's been remarkable to watch this threat assessment evolve over the last seven to ten days. Very specifically, we had two business leaders visit the Washington Post the week before this, from Silicon Valley and Wall Street. This (pandemic) issue barely came up in those hour-long conversations. 

And by Wednesday we were receiving phone calls from people who were in high levels in both the Bush and Obama administrations, telling us 'Hey guys, this is getting terrible. This could be, like, a hit of five percent to GDP. You guys need to be writing about this.'

And so the threat assessment evolved very, very suddenly.

Naturally, Chris Wallace, alert journalist that he is, followed up with: "So you're saying that this stock market panic began with phone calls from former Bush and Obama officials?"

No, no, I'm only kidding.  Wallace completely missed the headline and went on to other subjects.

But those phone calls had their desired effect.  On Wednesday, March 4, the Dow Jones closed over 27,000.  But by Thursday March 12, six business days later, the DOW had fallen over twenty percent, nearly 6,000 points.  On Friday it retraced about a third of those losses.

I've already expressed my belief that the dangers of the coronavirus are vastly exaggerated, given that COVID-19 deaths are a tiny fraction of those caused by the common flu every year.  As of this writing, COVID-19 has killed fewer than 60 people in the United States, whereas Type A influenza killed 20,000 people just this past winter.  Yet we didn't close schools, or shut down sports events and concerts, or empty store shelves in order to ward off the far more prevalent and dangerous influenza.  And we didn't fret about the availability of hospital beds, either (we had plenty).

Remember the swine flu pandemic of 2009?  I do, barely.  What I don't remember is a national panic or any attempts to shut down the economy back then.  Yet the CDC estimates that it killed more than 12,000 Americans.

Charles Lane's admission hints at a reason behind our otherwise unreasonable fear.  Trish Regan of Fox News Business suggested as much and was rewarded with the temporary cancelation of her show.

Politicians and the mainstream media are conspiring to turn the coronavirus into a political black swan.  They're trying to take down Trump and his economy by any means necessary.

On Fox News Sunday, the headline subject was coronavirus and its effects on the stock market and the economy.

Chris Wallace asked Washington Post journalist Charles Lane, "How big a threat is this pandemic to this country...?"

Lane answered:

So, it's been remarkable to watch this threat assessment evolve over the last seven to ten days. Very specifically, we had two business leaders visit the Washington Post the week before this, from Silicon Valley and Wall Street. This (pandemic) issue barely came up in those hour-long conversations. 

And by Wednesday we were receiving phone calls from people who were in high levels in both the Bush and Obama administrations, telling us 'Hey guys, this is getting terrible. This could be, like, a hit of five percent to GDP. You guys need to be writing about this.'

And so the threat assessment evolved very, very suddenly.

Naturally, Chris Wallace, alert journalist that he is, followed up with: "So you're saying that this stock market panic began with phone calls from former Bush and Obama officials?"

No, no, I'm only kidding.  Wallace completely missed the headline and went on to other subjects.

But those phone calls had their desired effect.  On Wednesday, March 4, the Dow Jones closed over 27,000.  But by Thursday March 12, six business days later, the DOW had fallen over twenty percent, nearly 6,000 points.  On Friday it retraced about a third of those losses.

I've already expressed my belief that the dangers of the coronavirus are vastly exaggerated, given that COVID-19 deaths are a tiny fraction of those caused by the common flu every year.  As of this writing, COVID-19 has killed fewer than 60 people in the United States, whereas Type A influenza killed 20,000 people just this past winter.  Yet we didn't close schools, or shut down sports events and concerts, or empty store shelves in order to ward off the far more prevalent and dangerous influenza.  And we didn't fret about the availability of hospital beds, either (we had plenty).

Remember the swine flu pandemic of 2009?  I do, barely.  What I don't remember is a national panic or any attempts to shut down the economy back then.  Yet the CDC estimates that it killed more than 12,000 Americans.

Charles Lane's admission hints at a reason behind our otherwise unreasonable fear.  Trish Regan of Fox News Business suggested as much and was rewarded with the temporary cancelation of her show.

Politicians and the mainstream media are conspiring to turn the coronavirus into a political black swan.  They're trying to take down Trump and his economy by any means necessary.