Paranoid right-wingers the country over are positively brimming with delusions that Ebola is somehow linked to the incompetence or intrinsic evil of the Obama administration, despite the virus’ limited threat to the actual safety of any Americans. To put it lightly, conservatives are freaking out, and in the process are spreading rumors, misinformation poorly-sourced conspiracy theories and outright lies.
InfoWars is proving itself to be the festering hive of this burgeoning Ebola-conspiracy movement, with a stunning 12 out of 13 headlines promoting stories on Thursday pushing the non-existent American Ebola epidemic as cause for immediate alarm and angry finger-pointing:
(This number went up to an astonishing 21 out of 25 when you count every featured story in the side-scrolling bar at the top.)
InfoWars is most noteworthy as the brainchild of noxious conspiracy theorist and “professional lunatic asshole” Alex Jones, who has espoused paranoid rhetoric on everything from the alleged New World Order to the oppression of fundamentalist Christians. But lately it’s been serving as the centerpiece of the right-wing rumor mill circulating rabid “theories” on Ebola like the ones above. Jones, for example, has personally suggested that Obama is intentionally letting Ebola spread unchecked as a form of population control.
What do these stories say? We read a few of them so you don’t have to and cataloged the results below:
Shocker! Some health care workers from the Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth Systems and Aultman Hospital happened to be on the same flight as nurse Amber Vinson, who contracted Ebola while caring for Liberian man Thomas Duncan in Dallas. But what InfoWars tells you — that they were “possibly infected” — leaves out crucial parts of the original report from Fox 8 Cleveland, which included a few caveats destroying the narrative that nurses everywhere are spreading the deadly virus. Here’s what MetroHealth and the clinic told reporters:
“We are confident that these nurses are at low risk of exposure since we understand that the Dallas nurse did not have symptoms at the time. We have taken this measure as an extra precautionary step for our employees, patients, and visitors.”
And Aultman issued this statement:
“At the time our nurses shared the flight with this individual, she exhibited no symptoms of the disease. In fact, she did not exhibit any symptoms until four days later when she returned to Dallas and checked herself into a hospital on Tuesday. For those reasons, we are very optimistic the disease was not transmitted to our staff.”
The risk of contracting Ebola by sharing a flight with an infected person is in fact quite low. The CDC’s Marty Cetron told CNN that infection in that environment would require “direct contact frequently with body fluids or blood.” The International Air Transport Association urges travelers to keep in mind that the virus can only be transmitted by a symptomatic patient, who would be “highly unlikely” to feel well enough to travel. The CDC considers it such a low risk that they don’t recommend travelers on the same plane be screened, and notes that flights from affected areas are being screened for people suffering from fever.
But no, please, feel free to go ahead and panic immediately.
Oh my god, other people were on the same flight! Thank god InfoWars‘ Joe Biggs is here to tell us that the government is acting like “nothing has happened,” even though it’s almost certain that nothing has happened. School districts undergoing similar procedures stressed they were taking the extra precautions to prevent parents from panicking rather than prevent students from getting Ebola, and they’re using regular ol’ janitors to do it, not hulking government agents in hazmat suits.
Biggs, for the record, recently filed a story claiming he was harassed by cops while “reporting on the cover-up of the US Government shipping in diseased illegals.” (The alleged harassment? A very polite cop briefly confirming his media credentials.)
Moving on, to this:
Not if you ask CDC Director Thomas Frieden, who recently told the media that unless the plague undergoes a “mutation” there is “zero doubt” Ebola will not reach epidemic proportions in the states. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles infectious disease specialist Dr. Jill Hoffman told ABC 7 that “The probability of any one hospital having to deal with a single case, let alone an epidemic, is very, very rare.” Doctors contacted by NBC urged the public to understand that the death of one U.S. Ebola patient doesn’t raise the risk for others.
But I guess InfoWars and the entire medical community will just have to agree to disagree.
This article straight-up lies to you, conflating the 41 days necessary under WHO guidelines for a country to be certified Ebola-free with the 21 days it takes for a single patient to show symptoms of Ebola infection. In reality, the 21-day cutoff period designates a 98% confidence level that anyone not displaying symptoms by that point is Ebola-free, and is only used to assess the risk to others posed by a single patient. The 41-day period is there to ensure that medical personnel remain ready to immediately respond to any cases that weren’t reported. Nimmo then uses his ignorance of epidemiology to argue that the CDC, a “classic government bureaucracy with a bloated budget ($6.6 billion a year), has reacted in dinosaur fashion to the spread of the disease in the United States.” He then literally argues for a free-market approach to Ebola containment:
“As Ron Paul noted recently, Firestone established treatment and quarantine procedures to prevent the spread of the disease in Harbel, Liberia, where [Firestone] maintains a rubber plantation.
“‘Firestone’s success in containing Ebola shows that, far from justifying new state action, the Ebola crises demonstrates that individuals acting in the free market can do a better job of containing Ebola than can governments,’ Paul writes.”
Does this guy want us all to start vomiting blood or what? A “property-based” approach to Ebola would basically look indistinguishable from Woodbury in The Walking Dead.Maybe Nimmo’s aiming to be The Governor.
Predictably, Nimmo is against letting the Commie president use the National Guard to fight Ebola:
Maybe that’s because Nimmo believes the U.S. government is secretly using West Africa as a bioweapons testing ground to field-test Ebola vaccines for profit, or perhaps to immunize themselves before releasing Ebola in order to “martial law and institute a police state in America.” He cites Delaware State University’s Dr. Cyril Broderick, who the college went out of their way to explain is an expert on plants, not viruses. Broderick’s last paper in 2004 was on fertilizer, so forgive me for choking on the smell of bullshit.
To call Dr. Frieden’s measured call for perspective and calmness into question, Daniels relies on some pretty shaky evidence, including the good ol’ fallback of “questions remain”:
“But Ebola has yet to stop spreading in Dallas, Texas, now that 29-year-old Amber Vinson, a nurse who treated the late Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, tested positive for Ebola only four days after her fellow nurse, 26-year-old Nina Pham, also tested positive for the disease.
“Duncan, who was the first diagnosed Ebola patient in the U.S., died from the disease on Oct. 8, but questions remain as to why he was treated at a hospital lacking proper equipment and training to contain a deadly virus.”
Maybe Ebola truthers have yet to get the answers they desperately want to hear, but the CDC is already getting theirs. They’re pretty sure the infections were the result of not following correct procedures and are assigning top personnel to oversee a renewed effort to supervise hospitals dealing with the disease, or exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.
The source of this story, Dr. Richard C. Davis, is pretty busy for an infectious disease expert claiming to have been developing miraculous anti-viral agents with the military. In between appearing on InfoWars to talk about his experience working with U.S. Navy SEALs on deep diving missions, exposing the conspiracy to cover up dangerous Fukushima radiation, launching unsuccessful crowdfunding campaigns to cure canine cancer, suing the Federal Reserve System, receiving emergency stop orders on his medical license for selling bogus macular degeneration treatments and having one out of five stars on HealthGrades.com, Davis sure is one hell of a globe-trotting expert.
By the way, Davis claims to have started his career intending to be an astronaut. RC-2Beta — the “successful Ebola drug” — is by his own admission a cancer treatment for dogs. He told InfoWars that the government’s refusal to listen to him constituted “gross misconduct, dereliction of duty, criminal negligence or worse – treason.”
Okay, I can see how if you’re an idiot this story might make you a little nervous. But given that polls have found an astonishing nine out of 10 Americans think Ebola is airborne and around two-thirds are worried about the possibility of a large-scale outbreak in the states, reassuring the public that there’s nothing to fear is pretty goddamn important.
“Despite the continued low risk to the American public, people are still flipping out over the presence of Ebola in the country. Navarro College in Texas revoked the admissions of all students from affected West African countries, including Ebola-free Nigeria. African immigrants in D.C. told the Washington Post they have been harassed, looked upon with suspicion and ostracized.
“It’s not just limited to the public: Lawmakers and pundits, mainly on the right, have exaggerated fears about Ebola for political ends by tying the foreign epidemic to everything from immigration and border policing to the president’s golfing.”
The real world consequences might include concessions to this senseless panic like the air traffic closures demanded by right-wingers, which doctors fear would actually increase the odds of a larger pandemic.
InfoWars and its ilk are at the core of this terrible movement, which probably poses a more credible risk to the safety of the public than the virus itself. But while they would insist they’re just spreading the “truth,” who are they kidding? They thrive on chaos. They’re Ebola’s best friend stateside.