A grim milestone in grim milestones


We have reached a grim milestone in grim milestones. A Google search on the term “grim milestone” now returns more than 6,000,000 results. It is a “grim milestone” in the unstoppable progress of a brain-killing media cliché.

The “grim milestones” retailed by the media always seem to have a political twist and the political twist always seems to be detrimental to Republicans. If it can’t be given a detrimental twist detrimental to Republicans, the “grim milestone” is likely to go unrecognized if possible.

For example, the press has proclaimed no “grim milestone” in inflation under President Biden. Yet this week prices for gasoline climbed above $4.00 a gallon in every state for the first time in our history. If you had no aversion to clichés and were in the business of declaring “grim milestone,” you should have gone to work on it this week.

To take another example, the Biden administration has achieved “grim milestones” in illegal immigration just about every month since it took office. Again, if you thought in clichés and churned out news stories for a living, you probably should have gotten around to recognizing the Biden administration’s accomplishments in fostering illegal immigration and getting results that make for a “grim milestone.” Or “grim milestone(s).”

The proclamation of “grim milestones” has an ideological tilt. The press avoids the task when the “grim milestone” undermines the left or fails to work the ideological angle.

Does the widely recognized “grim milestone” we have reached in the Covid pandemic — deaths of Americans attributed to Covid by the CDC passed 1,000,000 in the week ending May 14 — undermine my case? I don’t think so. Biden himself anticipated it in a formal statement on May 12. He observed that the United States must stay committed to fighting a virus that has “forever changed” the country.

Yes, you may think to yourself, it delivered the presidency to you and brought us the “grim milestones” you have already achieved in your first 18 months in office. Luckily for you, they won’t be declared by your supporters in the Democratic Party’s media adjunct.

But for the ideological imperative, the “grim milestone” of 1,000,000 Covid deaths would prompt the press to sort out the number of deaths that occurred under President Trump — let’s take the number 412,892 set by OurWorldData, which relies on Johns Hopkins figures — as of January 20, 2021. “Responsibility” would be assessed and Biden would be weighed in the balance.

Although the latest “grim milestone” in the pandemic has occurred under Biden and Biden himself attributed responsibility for the deaths that occurred during the Trump administration to President Trump, the press has no interest in allocating the “responsibility” for the 1,000,000 deaths between Trump and Biden.

When Biden declared “Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America,” we had suffered approximately 220,000 Covid deaths. (The Wall Street Journal quoted Biden’s statement in its November 25, 2021 editorial “Biden’s Covid Death Milestone.”)

At the time we crossed the “grim milestone” of 1,000,000 deaths attributed to Covid, Biden was “responsible” for a greater share of the 1,000,000 than Trump — “responsible” by Biden’s own measure. And this at a time when the disease is no longer novel, when vaccines have been developed (thanks to the MAGA King), when therapeutics are available, and all the rest. Yet no one has posed the question of responsibility to Biden in light of his own measure. If he had a shred of decency, he would resign for his manifest failure (by his own measure) and indecency (by my measure).

On the point of “responsibility,” by the way, see Yevgeny Kuklychev’s Newsweek column “Fact Check: Have More Americans Died From COVID Under Joe Biden Than Donald Trump?” Kuklychev is or was Newsweek’s “senior editor, fact check.” He seemed to think it important to sort out the numbers between Trump and Biden when the “grim milestone” (his term) stood at 800,000.

Will he revisit the subject now? I’m guessing he won’t revisit the subject any time soon.

For a study in how to avoid the political uses of the “grim milestone” you cannot turn them in your favor, see the U.S. News story “U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Reaches 1 Million as Country Grapples With How to Move Forward.”

In the story reporter Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder quoted Biden’s May 12 statement “marking the grim milestone,” as she put it, without further comment: “As a nation, we must not grow numb to such sorrow. To heal, we must remember. In remembrance, let us draw strength from each other as fellow Americans. For while we have been humbled, we never give up.”

Or see Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s May 12 New York Times story on “the milestone.” Stolberg’s story includes a graphic charting Covid deaths over time without sorting out the numbers or allocating responsibility. Contrast the graphic in Stolberg’s story with Clay Travis’s at the bottom of this post.

Stolberg maintains a discreet silence on the point of “responsibility,” but adds this political twist:

Mr. Biden came into office vowing to conquer Covid-19, but hopes of achieving “herd immunity” through the combination of vaccination and exposure gave way to the harsh realization that vaccines’ protective power against infection could wane and that new variants made reinfection more common. Political divisions have thwarted mask and vaccine mandates.

“We never give up” should be the media’s motto in the uses of stories proclaiming “grim milestones.”





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