Vaccine researchers spring up across the nation. Plus, reporters once covered what candidates said

By Gary Abernathy

A lot of people I know have become vaccine researchers

man mixing a flask inside a laboratory
When people tell me they’re still researching the covid vaccine, I picture them donning white coats, goggles and gloves and conducting experiments in their basements in their spare time. (CDC photo on Unsplash.com)

Many people who are reluctant to get a covid vaccine tell me they are “still researching it.” I picture them donning a white lab coat, putting on goggles and testing various formulas in test tubes in their spare time. “Covid vaccine researcher” seems to be a budding new career path for millions of Americans.

One of the things unique to the covid vaccine are the millions of people who have become medical researchers. People who have never before questioned pills, shots or therapies recommended by their doctors have suddenly developed the need to thoroughly research this vaccine — mostly by going on the internet and reading articles by others who also doubt the vaccine.

Hey, I understand — and support — the notion that people should take responsibility for their own health decisions, ask as many questions as they want and make up their own minds. I just get a kick out of the whole “I’m still researching it” answer that I hear regularly about the covid vaccine. My research was complete, and I got vaccinated, after the scientists who know more about vaccines than I ever will did the work and the FDA gave emergency authorization for a vaccine that has proven very effective — especially at preventing death — regardless of the percentage of efficacy you want to attach to it.

I know there are people who are very sensitive to vaccines and have had bad reactions in the past. I understand people with certain medical conditions who wrestle with whether to get vaccinated. I appreciate the tough decision this is for a lot of people, and I respect that. I respect and support the right to offer evidence, including on social media, that contradicts the “official” authorities on the subject. I’m opposed to Facebook, Twitter, etc. banning alternative opinions on covid or anything else.

But to me, our society as a whole has gone way off the deep end with conspiracy theories about this thing. But I’ll admit, I’m sure going to feel foolish when it turns out that the longterm effect of the vaccine either turns me into the Wolf Man, or makes me magnetic, or alters my DNA, or makes me age faster or gain weight more quickly. Oops, I think that last thing is already happening — and I’m blaming the vaccine, not that bowl of M&Ms I have every night.

Reporter: ‘At the time, we covered things candidates said.’

I often rail against the new “Trump Rules” that many in the media admittedly adopted to cover Donald Trump, and, later, others. Their excuse was that Trump lied so much they had no choice. I still contest the notion that Trump lied more than other politicians — and please spare me the numbers compiled by Trump lie counters, unless you can compare them with lists compiled for other policitians, which don’t exist because that honor was reserved for Trump. But either way, inventing new standards to cover Trump — including permission for reporters to say within their news stories that “Trump lied” — did more to create additional distrust in journalism than anything in recent history.

Reporters supposedly covering news — and not producing opinion or analysis — are fewer all the time. One well-known news reporter is Maggie Haberman, White House correspondent for the New York Times. She was recently profiled by the Washington Post in an article focusing on how Haberman has occasionally been vilified by the left and right — the right because she’s with the New York Times, the left for supposedly being too soft on Trump, although the evidence suggests otherwise. Trump often lumped her in with other reporters he called “dishonest.”

The profile includes this paragraph:

What reporters "had to coverabout Trump evolved, though those choices became a matter of public debate. His attacks and falsehoods were so constant that they became tempting to ignore, and, some argued, irresponsible to report. "But at the time," Haberman says, "we covered things candidates said."

Haberman’s quote is what jumps out to me. “But at the time, we covered things candidates said.” In other words, they admittedly stopped doing that later, especially with Trump. To too many reporters, Trump was so outrageous and spewed so many lies that they felt obliged to stop reporting what he — and, later, other politicians, almost all Republicans — said, and began delving deeper into “context and analysis,” to assist helpless Americans who were otherwise incapable of figuring things out for themselves if all they had to go on were “things candidates said.”

Through the history and traditional rules of modern journalism, reporting what candidates said, and offering the chance for others to counter what candidates said, worked just fine. People care about what candidates say, not what reporters want to tell them it means. Old-fashioned journalism still works. Sadly, it’s seldom practiced anymore.

Too many journalists hated Trump so much that they invented new rules to cover him — rules which basically declared them his enemy and aligned them with the politicians and political entities opposing him. In other words, they chose sides, rather than maintaining the detached and non-partisan approach that helped maintain a reader’s sense that they were fair and unbiased. It was a fateful journalistic decision that will reverberate for years to come, since there’s no sign that they’ve recognized their mistake and have any interest in correcting it.

It’s not partisan to point out how badly Biden is doing

It’s nearly impossible to imagine our withdrawal from Afghanistan being handled worse than it is, and it’s competely baffling why President Biden continues to be such a poor communicator about it.

Partisan politics aside, Biden’s performance during this debacle has been concerning. Even if you’re Joe Biden’s biggest fan, you have to be worried about his decisions and his public appearances. They are far from reassuring.

The mainstream media agrees. The following are news analysis pieces, not partisan opinion columns.

Washington Post: Biden struggles to address the most volatile crisis of his presidency.

New York Times: Biden faces a tragedy he pledged to avoid.

USA Today: Biden says the Taliban are 'not good guys.' So why is the U.S. cooperating with them against ISIS-K?

CNN: Biden in turmoil as blast in Kabul raises leadership questions.

It was clear back during the campaign that Biden has lost a lot as the years have progressed. Most Americans saw it, and it’s frankly an even bigger black mark on Donald Trump that more voters decided to roll the dice with a clearly faltering Biden than to stick with Trump.

But it’s hard to believe that Trump — or any other previous president, for that matter — could mangle this situation half as badly as Biden. Let’s all pray for better days, for our troops, American civilians and allies still in harm’s way.

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