Indy Digest: Sept. 16, 2021
We have reached the point in our planet’s existence where serious news publications are publishing serious stories with dead-serious headlines such as “Trinidad health minister joins Fauci in debunking Nicki Minaj impotence tweet.”
Yep. We’re doomed.
But we’re not here to talk about Nicki Minaj and her cousin’s friend’s swollen testicles. Instead, we’re here to talk about another person who keeps downplaying the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco, and more specifically, the journalism issue of both-sidesism, aka false balance.
Wikipedia defines false balance as “a media bias in which journalists present an issue as being more balanced between opposing viewpoints than the evidence supports. Journalists may present evidence and arguments out of proportion to the actual evidence for each side, or may omit information that would establish one side’s claims as baseless. False balance has been cited as a cause of misinformation.”
This brings us to a story we published on Tuesday, “Partisan Policing: Calling Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco a ‘Danger,’ a New PAC Hopes to Unseat Him in the Next Election.” The piece led to a moderate amount of cranky feedback from fans of Bianco, some of whom were especially upset about this paragraph:
While the sheriff’s office is technically a nonpartisan position, Bianco has been anything but nonpartisan, regularly criticizing Gov. Gavin Newsom, and even endorsing Larry Elder in the gubernatorial recall election. He’s also repeatedly ignored proven science by saying he refuses to get vaccinated and downplaying how dangerous COVID-19 is. Much of his rhetoric hues closely to the principles espoused by the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group that believes sheriffs have the authority to disregard any laws or regulations they decide are unconstitutional.
It’s that middle sentence that upset these aforementioned fans. They claimed we were showing bias by calling out the sheriff for “repeatedly ignor(ing) proven science.”
No. We would have been engaging in false balance and bias if we had NOT pointed out that the science around the vaccines is very, very much proven at this point … no matter what Chad Bianco thinks, and no matter what Nicki Minaj tweeted a few days ago.
(And, hey, who knew Nicki Minaj and Chad Bianco have so much in common?)
So … that’s your journalism lesson for the day. Thanks for reading!
From the Independent
Partisan Policing: Calling Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco a ‘Danger,’ a New PAC Hopes to Unseat Him in the Next Election
By Kevin Fitzgerald
September 15, 2021
The newly formed Riverside Alliance for Safety and Accountability says “constitutional” Sheriff Chad Bianco is a danger who needs to be defeated at the polls next year.
Living Through a Second Pandemic: The Sixth Annual Aging Positively—Reunion Project Conference Creates Community for Long-Term HIV Survivors
By Jimmy Boegle
September 16, 2021
The annual Aging Positively—Reunion Project conference is much needed in the Coachella Valley because of the large concentration of long-term HIV survivors who live here, organizers say.
The XX Factor: Meet Palm Springs Resident Jean-Marie Navetta, PFLAG’s National Director of Learning and Inclusion
By Kay Kudukis
September 15, 2021
PFLAG’s Jean-Marie Navetta visited friends in Palm Springs three years ago, “I didn’t really want to come,” Navetta says, laughing. “I’m all about the coasts. We were here for about three hours before we looked at each other and said, ‘This is where we need to live.’”
Hiking With T: Joshua Tree National Park Is One of the Most Majestic and Spiritual Places in the World for Outdoor Adventure
By Theresa Sama
September 15, 2021
Joshua Tree National Park is only 30 to 40 miles from the Coachella Valley, depending on the entrance you choose, and it’s one of more than 100 park sites that offers free admission to everyone six days per year.
Vine Social: A Century Ago, We Had Wars, Pandemics and Natural Disasters—but We Didn’t Have Legal Wine
By Katie Finn
September 16, 2021
We all have become familiar with the stories of bootlegging gangsters, corrupt politicians and keystone cops. But there’s a Prohibition story that remains largely untold: the saga of the wineries that avoided becoming ghosts.
September 16, 2021
Topics tackled on this week’s comics page include city government; AOC, hunting, swing voters—and much more!
• The recall election—unofficially, at least—is over, with Gov. Gavin Newsom easily defeating the effort. Now … could a reform of California’s, uh, unique recall system be one of the state’s next orders of business? Legislative Democrats sure hope so. Our partners at CalMatters report: “On the morning after voting ended and recall candidates conceded, the chairpersons of the election committees in the state Assembly and Senate said they’re kicking off a public debate to overhaul California’s recall process. ‘Californians are very frustrated that we just spent $276 million on this recall election that, from the looks of it, certified what voters said three years ago and what voters could have said next year,’ Assemblymember Marc Berman of Los Altos said at the virtual press conference. … ‘The voters want to see a more democratic process put in place that keeps elected officials accountable, but prevents political gamesmanship,’ added Sen. Steve Glazer of Orinda.”
• The local COVID-19 stats continue to improve, thank goodness. The Riverside County District 4 report (District 4 = the Coachella Valley and rural points to the east) for the week ending Sept. 12 shows the weekly positivity rate is down to 6.4 percent, while hospitalizations continue to decrease (although I am 99.9 percent sure the Sept. 6 and 7 hospitalization numbers are whack). On the awful and sad side, at least three of our neighbors last week were taken by SARS-CoV-2.
• The city of Palm Springs’ testing of wastewater for SARS-CoV-2 is also showing better numbers. The samples from Sept. 6 and 7 showed a lot less virus than the week before.
• A report from ProPublica drives home the dangers unvaccinated COVID-19 victims are causing for vaccinated people and kids by overwhelming hospitals in some parts of the U.S. The headline sums things up succinctly: “A Boy Went to a COVID-Swamped ER. He Waited for Hours. Then His Appendix Burst.” A key quote from the piece, published yesterday: “Some health officials now worry about looming ethical decisions. Last week, Idaho activated a ‘crisis standard of care,’ which one official described as a ‘last resort.’ It allows overwhelmed hospitals to ration care, including ‘in rare cases, ventilator (breathing machines) or intensive care unit (ICU) beds may need to be used for those who are most likely to survive, while patients who are not likely to survive may not be able to receive one,’ the state’s website said.”
• Unvaccinated COVID-19 patients are also taking a huge financial toll. The Health System Tracker, by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), says: “Our analysis of HHS and CDC data indicates there were 32,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in June, 68,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations in July, and another 187,000 preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults in the U.S. in August, for a total of 287,000 across the three months. … If each of these preventable hospitalizations cost roughly $20,000, on average, that would mean these largely avoidable hospitalizations have already cost billions of dollars since the beginning of June. From June through August 2021, preventable COVID-19 hospitalizations among unvaccinated adults cost over $5 billion.”
• This is sad and amazing: “The United States has reached another grim milestone in its fight against the devastating COVID-19 pandemic: 1 in 500 Americans have died from coronavirus since the nation’s first reported infection,” CNN explains. “As of Tuesday night, 663,913 people in the US have died of Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data. According to the US Census Bureau, the US population as of April 2020 was 331.4 million.”
• Meanwhile, via The Conversation, a urologist has stepped forward to counter Nicki Minaj’s claims about vaccines and impotence, and again, I can’t believe I just typed all that with a serious face, but that urolohgist writes: “Contrary to myths circulating on social media, COVID-19 vaccines do not cause erectile dysfunction and male infertility. What is true: SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, poses a risk for both disorders. Until now, little research has been done on how the virus or the vaccines affect the male reproductive system. But recent investigations by physicians and researchers here at the University of Miami have shed new light on these questions. The team, which includes me, has discovered potentially far-reaching implications for men of all ages—including younger and middle-aged men who want to have children.”
• And finally, because why not, the time has perhaps come to start potty-training cows. The Associated Press explains what in the heck I’m talking about: “Turns out cows can be potty trained as easily as toddlers. Maybe easier. It’s no bull. Scientists put the task to the test and 11 out of 16 cows learned to use the ‘MooLoo’ when they had to go. Just like some parents, the researchers used a sweet treat to coax the cows to push through a gate and urinate in a special pen. And it took only 15 days to train the young calves. Some kids take quite a bit longer. ‘The cows are at least as good as children, age 2 to 4 years, at least as quick,’ said study senior author Lindsay Matthews, an animal behavioral scientist at New Zealand’s University of Auckland who worked with colleagues on the tests at an indoor animal research lab in Germany.“
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