Science journalist (and former CNN correspondent) Miles O’Brien excoriated Fox’s hyperbolic media coverage of ebola on CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday, calling it irresponsible given the increasingly technological nature of the world, and pleaded for large media outlets to develop more science-specific reporting units.
“I wish everybody could take a deep breath and take a break from trying to pull viewers in by scaring them,” O’Brien said. “It borders on irresponsibility…But there is a perception that by hyping up this threat you draw people’s attention. It’s a shame to even say that, and I get embarrassed for our brethren in journalism.”
Stelter played a clip of Fox & Friends’ Elisabeth Hasselbeck demanding to know why an infection disease specialist wasn’t panicking over ebola, and Outnumbered’s Andrea Tantaros alleging that ebola patients might be visiting witch doctors or something.
“We could digress into what motivated that, the racial component of all this, the arrogance, the first world versus third world,” O’Brien said. “It’s offensive on several levels. It reflects, frankly, a level of ignorance we should not allow in our media and in our discourse.” (Host Brian Stelter also critiqued a CNN segment on ebola.)
“My biggest wish for the audience is that the mainstream media, the big outlets, CNN included realize that science coverage is important, and that they should have people on staff who have a certain amount of expertise, who study this beat,” O’Brien said. “You would never run CNN without a political reporter, would you? Why in this world where climate change is a big issue, ebola is a big issue, missing airplanes are a big issue, why is it big entities don’t maintain science units anymore? They’re gone!”
Watch the clip below, via CNN:
[Image via screengrab]
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