Sturgis Pandemic Coverage Has Been a Black Eye for the Media

Motorcycles and people crowd Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, on August 7, 2020. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images/TNS

MINOT, N.D. — It has been a struggle to get Americans to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.

You don’t need me to tell you that resistance to guidelines like masking and social distancing has been rampant.

There are many reasons for this, but a big one is the shamefully sensationalistic way the pandemic has been reported to us for months now. Every day it’s armageddon in the headlines, even as Americans look out their window and see something that’s not quite so bad.

I mean, things are bad, but the heavy breathing we get from our news outlets daily prepares us to expect a glimpse of a mushroom cloud over the horizon any day now.

Reality not matching up with headlines leads the public to believe that the pandemic isn’t as serious as reported. Which, in turn, is part of what drives resistance to things such as masking and lockdowns.

An unfortunate outcome because the pandemic is serious. It’s hurting real people. It’s killed tens of thousands. The actual story of the COVID-19 pandemic has been bad enough without journalists and editors, and producers cranking everything up to 11.

The way the news media covered the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a case in point. It was held in South Dakota with little in the way of precautions. Few of the hundreds of thousands of attendees from across the nation wore masks. Few engaged in social distancing.

One needn’t be an epidemiologist to conclude that the event would contribute significantly to the spread of COVID-19.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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