Thursday, August 20, 2020

This must-read column reminds us just how scary the coronavirus can be

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This must-read column reminds us just how scary the coronavirus can be

Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke. (Courtesy: Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, everyone.

I wanted to start today’s newsletter with something a little different. For the past several months, the world has talked so much about the coronavirus that it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of truly what we’re dealing with.

Yes, we see the death totals piling up and we see the numbers and we hear about testing and vaccines and things such as social distancing and mask wearing. Every day we — all of us — are living through these surreal times.

And yet, sometimes it all runs together and we become numb to the pain and suffering that can come with COVID-19.

So I direct you to a column by the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke, assuredly on the list of top sports columnists in the country. He wrote an absolutely chilling account of his battle with COVID-19. He’s OK now and self-quarantining, but it sounds like his ordeal was beyond scary.

He wrote, “My temperature hovered in the upper reaches of 102. It felt like my head was on fire. One night I sweated through five shirts. I shook so much from the chills I thought I chipped a tooth. My chest felt like LeBron James was sitting on it. My fatigue made it feel as if I was dressed in the chains of Jacob Marley’s ghost. I coughed so hard it felt like I broke a rib.”

He added, “I would fall asleep in a chair and wake up terrified from a hallucinatory dream where I was chased through a playground by old women with giant heads. During phone calls I would get confused and just stop talking. I would begin crying for no reason. I lost my sense of taste, smell, and five pounds in the first four days.”

And Plaschke, 61, is one of the lucky ones. He has survived.

The rest of the column is an absolute must read.

I asked Plaschke how the powerful column has been received by readers and he told me in an email, “I’ve been humbly overwhelmed by readers thanking me for writing about real-life implications of the virus. I felt very vulnerable and even uncomfortable writing it but I’m now glad I did.”

If you haven’t had COVID, it’s a scared-straight PSA for mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing. And it’s a reminder of what we’re dealing with.

As Plaschke wrote, “The novel coronavirus is not a statistic. It’s not an agenda. It’s not a debate. COVID-19 is real enough to rise up and beat me senseless. We need to stop giving it license to do the same to others.”

A forgettable interview

President Donald Trump speaks at a news conference on Thursday. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

I hesitate to rip into Fox News or Fox Business every single time someone says something outlandish or lobs up a bunch of softballs to President Donald Trump. If one wanted, they could write something about Fox every day and, in fact, there are websites and media writers who pretty much have made careers out of it.

It’s certainly no surprise when one of Fox News’ primetime stars — Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity or Laura Ingraham — pushes Trump’s agenda, and it’s also no surprise when others such as Jeanine Pirro, Lou Dobbs or most of the folks on “The Five” and “Fox & Friends” carry Trump’s water.

But it is notable when one of the on-air personalities that Fox likes to tout as a legitimate and responsible journalist falls in line with the Trump agenda. That happened Thursday when Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo embarrassed herself in her interview with Trump. Not only did Bartiromo serve up a bunch of soft questions, she didn’t push back on many of the claims that needed pushing back. CNN’s Chris Cillizza detailed 42 — let me repeat that: 42! — of the most shocking things Trump said during his interview.

It included statements such as the coronavirus is going away, that he built the greatest economy in history, that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was a “poor student,” and many claims about Barack Obama and the U.S. Post Office. Those are just a few examples.

Bartiromo not only let Trump run wild, at one point she said, “There was a coup against you!” She also said that “even in the face of all this, you’ve gotten so much done.”

Trump told Bartiromo, “I do love your show and I think you’re fantastic.”

Why wouldn’t he when he can treat an interview on her show like it’s a campaign speech that isn’t vetted or fact-checked?


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