E.R. 404

There are few TV genres with a more embedded tradition than medical shows. But someone needs to get this TV doctor off the air, stat, before Doogie Howitzer gets anyone else killed. As a country, we’ve been strapped to a gurney and wheeled, sans PPE, into an alternate universe, where Grey’s Anatomy became Daze Anatomy, Dr. Who became Dr. WTF, Trapper John is Crapper John, Nurse Jackie is Nurse Wacky, Nip/Tuck is Nip/F-ck, Dr. Leonard McCoy keeps his name—but his nickname is expanded to Bones(pur); and where the one show title that still makes sense is Scrubs (but only when applied to this administration’s pandemic team). Yes, by now you surely know that the Commander in Chief of Medicine suggested UV light or disinfectants as a possible pandemic solution: “The disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute, and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning.” Even by this show’s standards, the plot twist was so extreme that it led to this headline for the ages. Lysol maker: Please don’t drink our cleaning products. It would all be almost funny if this make-believe doctor weren’t the president of a country that has redefined American carnage with a world-leading 50,000 deaths, during the most confounding medical crisis in over a century. These daily press conferences are a bad show. They are a dangerous show. So one has to wonder why cable news networks and other outlets continue to endanger lives by playing them live. It’s an unforgivable case of malpractice. And one also has to wonder why, after all the madness and all the misinformation from the man who puts the Lie in Lysol, that even our finest media organizations continue to couch his discombobulated twaddle in strained ledes that hint any of this is somehow normal and worthy of critical analysis. Just take a look at this New York Times notification that followed the president’s suggestion that we put disinfectant inside of ourselves: “At a White House briefing, President Trump theorized — dangerously, in the view of some experts — about the powers of sunlight, ultraviolet light and household disinfectants to kill the coronavirus.” If theorizing about chugging disinfectants is only viewed dangerously by some experts, that implies there are also some experts who don’t view these theories as dangerous. False equivalency and altering reality to appear unbiased is a dangerous cocktail — according to every expert. Stop live-broadcasting these batshit political rallies masquerading as press conferences. Stop the crazy coverage. If it would erase the memory of these White House press briefings, I’d chug a gallon of disinfectant under a UV light right now.

+ On Friday, Trump lied that he was being ‘sarcastic’ when he talked about injecting disinfectant. In addition to being an overt falsehood, it’s also a helpful reminder that there’s really only one time it’s inappropriate to be sarcastic. When more than 50,000 people you’ve been tasked to protect have filled funeral homes, refrigerated trucks, and body bags.

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