Never heard the term

Dale Courtney is allowed 11 very chunky and rather boring paragraphs on the Oct. 27 Opinion page of this newspaper (try some self-editing for brevity?) to attack something he calls “legacy media,” using random instances of inaccuracy by some of America’s most distinguished reporters.

I’ve taught journalism for more than 30 years and practiced it before that. I don’t remember hearing the term legacy journalism, but it would seem to include the venerable newspaper you are reading now. Courtney is a guest of the Moscow-PullmanDaily News. He knows it is one of the few respected and reliable local news sources. Like all contributors, he hungers for the credibility and influence he won’t find writing for media focused on right wing ideology and lying 24/7.

A professional journalist at the Daily News and similar legacy or community newspapers traditionally had the opportunity to develop newsgathering and writing skills, including accuracy, fairness and balance, to perhaps rise to a large urban daily, and from there to venerable national newspapers or news magazines such as the New York Times, the Washington Post or Time or Newsweek. Such professional and ethical journalists still dominate the newsrooms of what Courtney is denigrating as legacy media.

If you want a steady diet of lies and propaganda, read something else. I’ll remain a loyal and critical reader of the Daily News and other so-called legacy media, forgiving inaccuracies by humans who are also professional journalists, if they are unintended.

Richard Shafer

Pullman

Welcome to the quack house

Chuck Pezeshki once again iterates (Daily News, Oct. 20), that masks don’t work, amounting to, in my opinion, misinformation, which aids Trump cultists into believing just about anything — Jewish space lasers igniting California wildfires, Italy defeating COVID-19, Israel is our “friend.”

Unfortunately, much of the misinformation comes from a nut house called Mar-a-Lago — where wealthy, tax-evading Congressional Republicans, wealthy, tax-evading corporations and wealthy, tax-evading elites kneel before their master. The crowning “achievement?” — Trump ordered conservatives to “sit this election out.” (Please republicans, heed your king’s most magnificent words ever.)

As for Med Page Today, Pezeshki seems to cite a questionable 2020 article by naturopathic medical doctor Colleen Huber. However, other skeptical writers, including Denis Rancourt and Bruce Hall et al., are ranting similarly.

Med Page Today’s own editors expressed doubts on the validity of Huber’s reporting. But, Pezeshki is nearly as unabashed and unrepentant on the efficacy of masks as the Donald is about the nonsensical socialism trope and the preposterous “stolen election” claim.

But, as a resource for an opinion, these contributors have been — you’ll enjoy this Chuck — “unmasked!”

Psychology Today contributor Dr. David Kyle Johnson said Huber’s opinion on masks is flawed and the 42 articles she cites do not support her assertions.

Is Huber a quack? Johnson intimates that could be true, casting doubt on Naturopathic doctor’s “pseudoscience.” Johnson said “because she has ‘MD’ by her name” doesn’t mean she is a physician. The American Academy of Family Physicians opines, naturopathic doctors “aren’t as rigorously trained as medical doctors ... . Many naturopathic treatments are ineffective and potentially dangerous,” despite some naturopaths having some medical training.

Welcome to the quack house, “lefty,” the hangout of Republicans, formerly “conservative.”

Jim Roach

Moscow

Include sources

Facts must matter. I first wrote to ask that the paper fact-check their columnists after Scotty Anderson’s lies about the January Capitol attack. I was finally persuaded by Doug Call’s thoughtful column on the topic that it was not feasible nor advisable for our local paper. But most weeks I still struggle to reconcile how my subscription dollars support the spreading of lies.

Wednesday’s paper provided the latest example of the confusion that comes from a lack of fact-checking. On page 6A, an Associated Press article states that 8,300 children ages 5-11 have been hospitalized from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. On the next page, columnist Dale Courtney criticizes a piece from the New York Times that 900,000 children have been hospitalized, claiming that the true number is 63,000. Three numbers, two orders of magnitude apart. Who is right? Note that, unlike the AP article, Courtney did not specify an age range, so it is hard to know.

More importantly, he cited a fact without a source. I would prefer our columnists to focus on their opinions and analysis, like the always delightful column opposite Courtney’s by Jade Stellmon. But if writers want to cite facts to support their arguments, I make the following request to the paper.

The editor should require that columnists, but not letter writers, cite a source for every fact they include in their column. This would be required only in the online version so as not to clutter up columns with lots of tedious URLs. They could use hyperlinks. This way interested readers of the print edition can always consult the online column to check sources. I am confident the editorial staff have the time and ability to help columnists sort fact from opinion.

If you agree, please write to show your support.

Joe Cook

Pullman

The vaccine correlation

Thankfully, COVID-19 cases are generally going down and the Southeast is getting a deserved break. Alabama, for example, has gone from 6,689 cases on Aug. 24 to 214 on Oct. 26. There has been an uptick in cases in the Northeast and some have speculated that the pandemic must be seasonal. People there are congregating more indoors, so it appears obvious to these observers that masking and vaccines do not make a difference.

If we look at any map that indicates cases by county, we will see that this theory is false. The hot spots in the Northeast are located in rural counties in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania that have low vaccination rates.

Let’s take a look at some rural counties in New York where Trump won by an average 65 percent. These five counties had a 46 percent vaccination rate and on Oct. 26 reported an average 51 cases/100,000. In stark contrast, 74 percent were vaccinated in New York County with 9 cases/100,000.

If we look at hot spots across the country, low vaccination rates correlate with high infection rates regardless of geography. Trump counties in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Montana, Utah, Oregon and Alaska all follow this pattern.

The seasonal/geographic theory is also invalid in Western Europe — from the tip of Italy to the Nordic countries.

On Oct. 26, 1,621 COVID-19 deaths were recorded in the U.S., but, adjusted for population, only 265 deaths in Italy and 213 in the five Nordic nations. See my column from Oct. 21 for more on Europe.

Nick Gier

Moscow

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