Fear-mongering has been kind of a staple among conservative media outlets for at least the last couple of decades. And terror always makes for good headlines…particularly since “conservatism” is just what happens when a fear of the dark grows up. So, if that’s what you’re appealing to, an ebola outbreak story has everything: It’s more gruesome than ISIS, and more inhuman than brown people. It’s an invisible daywalker, an enemy that could be lurking insidiously inside your best friend — like communism, or gayness. And NOTHING can protect you from this incurable infection.
Actually, that isn’t entirely true. In this clip from the Daily Show, John Stewart gives kind of a mash-up of media fear-mongering over a supposed “Ebola outbreak” in the United States. Following that, we get word from a scientist…identifiable by his crazy hair and bowtie, slightly askew. And according to scientists, Ebola is really pretty hard to catch, requiring direct contact from infected internal bodily fluids like blood.
So far, there have been nine reported cases of Ebola in the United States. The Liberian man, who died after infecting two nurses; the two nurses, a doctor in New York, an NBC cameraman, three Christian missionaries and an unnamed person at Emory University.
All except for the first, every one has been treated and cured. Six contracted the disease in Africa, and the two nurses got it while treating an African man. So, all things considered…ebola seems like a pretty hard disease to catch in the U.S., and an even harder one to die from. At this point, an American has a better chance of being attacked by a shark, and then getting hit by lightning, and then killed by a falling vending machine than dying of Ebola.
But, terror makes for good ratings, and the invisible enemy from Africa is scarier than the invisible enemy here. For instance, a full 25 percent of deaths in America are due to (largely preventable) heart disease — that’s 600,000 a year. That’s about 150 times more deaths every year in this country alone than Ebola has ever caused in the entire world.
Now there’s a terrifying headline for you.