“Media Flu” Update…

Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster

I heard from my dermatologist that that sample he removed from my left arm at the elbow is, in fact, a melanoma.

That’s the deadliest form of skin cancer.

It is curable if treated early.

This particular spot is a Stage 0 melanoma or a “melanoma in situ” since it’s in the epidermis.

I see my “skin doctor” every 3 months because I’ve now had 8 melanomas found on my skin in the past seven years.

I take this condition with my body’s largest organ (the skin) seriously because if I don’t, I could be one of the 600,000+ Americans who die from all forms of cancer every year.

That’s still fewer than the nearly 660,000 who die annually from all forms of heart disease.

So, when officials announced recently that COVID-19 has become the deadliest pandemic in recent American history, I wondered why we haven’t been in a similar national tizzy with heart and cancer deaths.

First of all, look closer at that number.

It is true that more Americans have died from the coronavirus that were claimed by the Spanish flu.


Those 675,000 deaths in 1918 and 1919 were totaled when our population was was about 105 million, compared to more than 330 million today.

The Spanish flu death rate was .006% of the total population whereas that figure for today is .002%

Officials “guesstimate” anywhere from 14.4 million to 50 million people died from the Spanish flu.

The world population then was estimated at 1.8 billion.

The COVID-19 worldwide death rate is roughly 4.8 million with a population on this planet estimated at roughly 7.9 billion.

So, when “the media” reports that the coronavirus is deadlier that the Spanish flu, the simple “death totals” are somewhat misleading.

What’s the biggest difference today with COVID-19 and the the Spanish flu of 1918-1919?

Politics and the media.

Today we have all sorts of ways to spread information, factual or otherwise.

There’s print, broadcast and the Internet.

Back in the Spanish flu days…not so much.

You had newspapers.

Today, with more outlets for “news”, you’d think there’s be better information available.


Today’s flu has pointed out how lazy and sloppy today’s media generally is and how condescending our national “leaders” are.

TV can show us those jagged red, orange and yellow graphs and toss out some numbers that, while true, when they’re not balanced with comparable pieces of information, we have a story that falls short of totally informing the masses.

I am not saying that the coronavirus is not real; it is.


By in large, today’s media has little time or interest in true REPORTING.

“REPORTING” is defined as “giving a spoken or written account of something that one has observed, heard, done or INVESTIGATED.”

“INVESTIGATING” is defined as “carrying out a systematic or formal inquiry to discover and examine the facts of (an incident, allegation, etc.) so as to establish the “TRUTH.”

The old “Dragnet” series used to have Sargent Joe Friday say he wanted the truth and nothing but the truth.

Being an old radio “Newshound”, I find what’s being offered up as news today often falls short of those standards for “reporting” and “investigating”.

No one asks the “tough questions” and sensitive political feet are never held close to the fire

If the modern day version of covering the coronavirus outbreak is the standard, imagine the graphs and the headlines if today’s media was around for the bubonic plague.

Also known as “Black Death”, this disease in the mid 1300’s ravaged Europe and Asia.

It killed 20,000,000 people in Europe, or roughly one-third of the total population.

It got started when 12 ships from the Black Sea sailed into the Sicilian port of Messina in October of 1347.

Most of the sailors on board those vessels were dead.

Those still alive were covered with black boils, filled with blood and pus.

Sicilian authorities ordered these “death ships” out of harbor.

But it was too late.

Over the next 5 years, one-third of the people on the continent died of the Bubonic plague.

Imagine, if you would, how today’s media would handle the Sicilian officials ordering the ships back to sea.

Constant videos of coronavirus victims today in hospitals, or getting vaccinations, would be replaced with close-up photos of black boils, oozing blood and pus.

We’d probably see footage of one of those ships pulling up anchor and retreating to the open waters at least once every day.

Move today’s media to 1918 when the way they battled the Spanish flu was to isolate, quarantine, push good personal hygiene, use disinfectants and limit public gatherings.

(Sound familiar?)

But then, the ill were quarantined whereas in the 21st century, we chose to quarantine the entire nation.


They had no antibiotics or serums to battle the malady in 1918.

I’m wondering if any of those sports wagering ads you see on TV would give you free bets on the likelihood of a new variant with this COVID-19 before it’s passed.

There were three waves of the 1918 Spanish flu…spring, fall and winter.

While we wrestle today with booster shots and kid vaccinations, the mortality rate for the Spanish flu was roughest on those 5 and under and over 65 but it was especially tough on those between the ages of 20-40, which was a unique feature of the outbreak.

Trust me.

I know the coronavirus is deadly.

But we have a few options at our disposal to battle this besides wearing “mouse hammocks”.

Or becoming complete strangers.

Or shutting down the nation.

Or, was that the plan all along?

Maybe the modern media will look into that.

Wanna bet?!?

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