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Even Medical News Is Becoming 'Fake News.'

I’m hardly surprised when a blog like Axios or Huffington Post runs a ‘fake news’ story that is poorly researched and/or simply wrong. After all, these outfits are desperately trying to maintain click-rates at a time when politics has become so normal and boring now that Trump has departed the scene. But when a website which posts medical information and medical resources runs an op-ed that is as offensively stupid as anything I see on various ‘fake news’ sites, as Grandpa would say – shain zeit! (read: enough is enough.)

I am referring to an op-ed posted earlier this week on Medpage Today, which claims that Vivek Murthy, the soon-to-be Surgeon General, has engaged in nefarious and unethical behavior by representing corporations which are trying to get out in front of the business problems caused by Covid-19.

Basically, the article claims that Murthy has earned a couple of million bucks by helping these companies either meet new government standards for operating safely during the pandemic or using Murthy’s name to assure prospective customers that their venues are safe. In particular, Murthy has been paid by companies like Carnival Cruise Lines and Airbnb, both of which can’t operate unless people who are thinking of taking a cruise or renting a cheap room on the road believe there isn’t any risk.

What does the author of this nonsensical paper believe Carnival Cruise Lines should do in order to make their ships safe? He says, “My advice would be simple: Don’t run cruises.” And by the way, the doctor who is giving this advice is giving it for free, as opposed to the 400 grand that Carnival has paid out to Murthy for his work.

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be mentioned that the op-ed that appeared in Medpage Today was basically a rewrite of a similar, one-sided piece which appeared in The Washington Post. Which only goes to show that the ‘fake news’ virus continues to spread.

Let’s go back to the ‘free’ advice offered in the op-ed to Carnival Cruise Lines, the advice being that they didn’t need to pay Vivek Murthy all that money because they could just stay safe by not running any ships. Sounds like a good idea, right?

Carnival Cruise Line happens to have 130,000 employees. Or I should say, the company had 130,000 employees at some point in the past. Now they have 130,000 former employees, or ex-employees, or whatever you want to call people who worked for a company which has been completely shut down by Covid-19.

Back in the olden days I took a four-day Carnival cruise out of Jacksonville which went to the usual Caribbean spots – Nassau, the Bahamas – you got off the boat, bought a t-shirt and got back on the boat. We actually had a great time.

I was impressed by two things: (1). How much fun everyone was having; and (2). the nice and pleasant and efficient behavior of the Carnival staff. Talk about customer service, they had it down pat.

Know what those 130,000 Carnival employees are doing right now? They’re sitting around waiting and hoping for another relief check because their industry, what we call L and H, which stands for Leisure and Hospitality, doesn’t exist. Know what the unemployment rate is in L&H today? Try 16 percent.

What is this op-ed writer talking about when he says that for his free advice, the Carnival Cruise Line should stay safe by not sailing its ships? And does Medpage Today really want readers to believe that someone as principled, decent, and dedicated to public health as Vivek Murthy would sell his name to Carnival Crise Lines whether their ships are safe or not?

It’s really saying something if the best Medpage can do to boost its click rate is to become the Breitbart of medical news.

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