That we shouldn’t believe everything we read in the newspapers is the sort of wisdom absorbed at Mother’s knee. Yet it can still shock how deliberately misleading the press can be.
Here, with the number of deaths from coronavirus – Covid-19 if you prefer – they’re using a very simple and rather despicable trick to make a political point. The point they desire to make is that right wing governments kill people. So, Britain is run by the Tories, the US by Orange Man Bad and Brazil, blimey, Bolsonaro’s nowt but a fascist, inn’e? And thus it is necessary to portray those three countries as having the worst response to the current pandemic.
Well, not actually necessary, but convenient to the message to be conveyed, righties are terrible peeps who kill people.
Thus we get this sort of thing:
Brazil overtakes UK with world’s second-highest Covid-19 death toll
Tally published by coalition of news outlets compiling stats since Brazil’s health ministry was accused of seeking to conceal figures
By total number of deaths this is true and the total number of deaths is indeed important. For each one is an individual ripped untimely and all that and we do indeed desire to minimise the number of those events.
Brazil has overtaken Britain as the country with the world’s second-highest Covid-19 death toll after a further 843 deaths pushed its total to 41,901.
The tally was published on Friday night by a coalition of news outlets which has been compiling independent statistics since Brazil’s health ministry was accused of seeking to conceal the full figures last week.
According to the British government 41,481 lives have been lost in the UK since late January although the number rises to more than 50,000 when suspected cases are included. Brazil’s death toll is also considered an underestimate.
Only in the US, where the official death toll stands at more than 116,000, have more died.
Medical experts have voiced despair at what they call Jair Bolsonaro’s calamitous response to the pandemic.
The Trump-admiring former army captain has repeatedly downplayed Covid-19 as media “hysteria” and “a bit of a cold” and on 12 April, with the official death toll at 1,223, falsely claimed: “This matter of the virus appears to be going away.”
And there you have it, the Orange Man, Tories, the fascist, all listed as being the very worst everywhere – the right kills!
Except, except, what is important here as a guide to performance is not the number but the rate. Britain is 65 million and climbing people, rather more than most European nations. The US is by far the largest rich country by population, some 330 million of them. Brazil is 210 million people and comparing the total number of ripped untimelies there against the number in – to remain in the same part of the alphabet – Belgium with 11 million people is less than enlightening. Unless, of course, our aim is to mislead.
It’s that rate, what portion of the number of people, that is important as a guide to governmental performance. Fortunately, people not newspapers with a grudge, have collated that information:
So, why isn’t the information presented in that more useful manner? Clearly, because it doesn’t meet the needs of our policy based evidence making project. A presentation that shows the Boy Trudeau with some ‘splainin’ to do doesn’t fit the narrative at all. How can we argue for larger government as a cure when France, which has that larger government, is performing like shit?
It usually is true that the good old days are right now. Humanity has never been better off, there’s never been anything like this current flourishing of civilisation. This is not, sadly, something that can be said about each and every aspect of this current world. It used to be that one could believe the evidence presented by The Guardian even if disagree with the analysis and conclusions. This is no longer so, they’re distorting the facts presented as well now.
Pity but then there we go – and at least we know now.