COVID DISINFORMATION: Post Reporter Tries to Make Mask Fanatics Seem Heroic

  • Whole article filled with unbalanced, one-sided opinions portrayed as facts
  • False comparison between dress codes and masks pushed hard
  • Local mother, Wendy, attacks dress code while promoting mask mandates
  • Promotion of a minority view provides unbalanced picture of mask controversy
  • Author advances leftist agenda, clearly wants to be praised as somehow courageous

OUR RATING: Major Negligence. MSNBC-level basic journalistic negligence

Indicted Outlet: Sydney Page | The Lilly | Link | Archive | 8/18/21

Sydney Page, in an “objective” news piece, amplifies the opinion of a mother, Wendy, whose extreme opinions lack scientific evidence and logic. Page does her best to make Wendy’s opinion seem common when in reality it is an extreme position in response to a mask policy with which many agree. The author’s implicit assumptions and tacit agreement with the view she reports destroys her credibility. 

Major Violations:

  • Unbalanced
  • Opinion as Fact
  • Some People Say
  • Implicit assumptions in headline

Page reports that the Tennessee Hamilton County School District decided to give parents the ability to opt-out of masks for their children at school: 

“Last week, Tennessee’s Hamilton County School District announced that masks will be mandatory for students and staff, with one key caveat: Students whose parents complete an opt-out form will be exempt from the policy. The district was ahead of the curve; on Tuesday, Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed an executive order that extended that option to all parents in the state.” 

This is where the news stops and the promotion of activist views begins. The first problem is a headline that implicitly assumes the opt-out policy is unjust: 

A school district had an opt-out policy for masks — but not the dress code. One mom fought back.”

If the mom, Wendy, had to “fight back” then the reporter assumes there was something implicitly unjust in the policy. Page tacitly agrees that the dress code is sexist, so she frames the article as such: feminist mother fights back against misogny to promote science and female empowerment. 

Page writes that Wendy’s “take” has gone “viral:” 

“But one East Hamilton High School mother’s take has gone viral: After screenshots of her email were posted on Twitter by the Tennessee Holler, the tweet garnered nearly 30,000 likes and thousands of retweets.” 

First, Page does not mention that Tennessee Holler is a far-left website that promotes its own agenda by amplifying voices in favor of universal mask mandates and COVID vaccinations. This is missing context that would allow the reader to understand that this is another issue campaign for a left-wing pressure group.

Second, to say that the mother’s take has gone “viral” is Page’s opinion stated as fact, though unsupported by evidence. To go “viral” takes a bit more than 30,000 likes on a social media site. 

You can buy 30,000 likes on Twitter right now for about $360 for context. [9]  

Here’s what Wendy had to say:

“As the parent of a daughter at East Hamilton, I find the school’s dress code policy to be misogynistic and detrimental to the self-esteem of young women,” the Aug. 11 email read. “… In light of the opt-out option related to the recently announced mask mandate, I can only assume that parents are now in a position to pick and choose the school policies to which their child to be subject. … I therefore intend to … send my daughter to school in spaghetti straps, leggings, cut offs, and anything else she feels comfortable wearing to school.”

If wearing masks is a matter of belief, according to Wendy, then she can also opt out of the dress code if it, too, is a matter of belief. Unfortunately, the science—not belief—proves that mask wearing for children is neither effective nor necessary given the low risk present to children.

It also may present hypoxia in child mask-wearers, unable to get enough oxygen. There is no known health risk with even the strictest dress code.

According to a Wall Street Journal editorial, there is a lack of study done on mask effectiveness with children. But what we do know is that COVID does not pose a serious threat to children [1] [2] [3]:

“The CDC reports that for the week of July 31 the rate of hospitalization with Covid for children 5 to 17 was 0.5 per 100,000, which would amount to roughly 250 patients. The CDC acknowledges that not all of these children were in the hospital for Covid: Viral testing at admission is routine, even for patients who have no Covid symptoms. Children who do develop Covid symptoms are at minimal risk of ‘long Covid,’ according to a Lancet study published Aug. 3: ‘Almost all children had symptom resolution by 8 weeks, providing reassurance about long-term outcomes.’”

Not only does COVID pose a low risk, but wearing a mask has been proven to negatively affect the person, especially a child, wearing one in a variety of ways [4]:

“Those who have myopia can have difficulty seeing because the mask fogs their glasses. (This has long been a problem for medical students in the operating room.) Masks can cause severe acne and other skin problems. The discomfort of a mask distracts some children from learning. By increasing airway resistance during exhalation, masks can lead to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. And masks can be vectors for pathogens if they become moist or are used for too long…The possible psychological harm of widespread masking is an even greater worry. Facial expressions are integral to human connection, particularly for young children, who are only learning how to signal fear, confusion and happiness. Covering a child’s face mutes these nonverbal forms of communication and can result in robotic and emotionless interactions, anxiety and depression.” 

Page neglects to present the other side, and instead gives an unbalanced presentation in favor of leftist viewpoints, including Wendy’s.

Page promotes her own agreement with Wendy on the basis of “some people say,” though these people are often radicals:

“But many parents, including Wendy, feel differently… Among those supporters was Taylor Lyons, another Hamilton County parent who spearheads a group called Chattanooga Moms for Social Justice. She, too, was outraged by the opt-out clause of the mask mandate, particularly because other school policies are non negotiable, she said. ‘It’s just mind-boggling that we can arbitrarily choose these silly dress code rules and then take a lifesaving health protection tool and make it optional,’ she said.” 

It’s great that the reporter has established now that two left-wing parents agree with one another. I would never have thought that possible. 

Lyon assumes that dress code rules are arbitrarily chosen while masks are factually proven to save lives. This is factually incorrect, but Page lets it slide anyway. Masks are not necessary for children as COVID presents a remarkably low risk to their age group. Furthermore, they face a comparable risk from the flu—a risk which hasn’t been accompanied by calls for mask mandates [5]: 

“To date, out of more than 74 million children in the United States, there have been about 300 COVID-19 deaths and a few thousand serious illnesses. By comparison, the CDC registered 188 flu-related deaths in children during the 2019-2020 flu season.”

Furthermore [6]:

“Dr. Roshni Mathew, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, says experience at her hospital found that 45% of the time, a child who tested positive for the coronavirus was not actually sick with COVID-19. The findings have been published online in the journal Hospital Pediatrics.”

So, masks are not a lifesaving option for children. Page promotes the opposite by ignoring any evidence to the contrary of these radical parents. This is the kind of superficial investigation notorious at the Post where they pretend to give you both sides or make it seem as though there’s no valid alternative viewpoint. Reporter Page allows them to speak without factual qualification. Categorizing masks as necessary but a dress code as arbitrary is an opinion presented as fact that lacks factual basis. 

Page ignores this reality and goes on to quote a sophomore in high school:

“Someone’s finally saying what we were all thinking,” said Piper Borski, a sophomore at the school. “My shoulders have never put anyone in the hospital.”

Neither will COVID for someone her age, so we’re back at square one. Dress codes are not the same as masks because they do not concern a child’s physical health. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that having to wear sleeves causes psychological damage to a child. 

But a school needs to have a policy and set such guidelines somewhere. Certainly the way someone dresses does have an impact on them psychologically, and on others. [10] And while dress codes are oddly being demonized by the left at the moment in order to promote some vague argument about female empowerment, many argue that dress codes exist for a variety of important reasons entirely absent from this unbalanced article. Some of those reasons help set a certain equity among students so that the most rich and fashionable designs do not prejudice students who have a more modest or poorer wardrobe. Dress codes function to avoid fights and violence in certain areas where gang affiliations might result in school conflict otherwise. [11]

Dress codes help students who aren’t graced with great physiques, or who have yet to get into good shape, from being compared to the Quarterback’s upper body, or the cheerleading squad’s abs. Dress codes help take the focus away from the body, and help students focus on learning.

And let’s put the shoe on the other foot: if students should be freed from dress codes, why not teachers? Should your science teacher be able to show up in yoga pants, should your child’s principal hold court in a t-shirt and shorts? Left-wing reporters do the bidding of left-wing pressure groups by allowing them to laser in on one perceived injustice and never think through the impact of their policies, the cumulative consequence of their social engineering.

Would a world without dress codes result in less stress about conforming to the code, or would it lead to more stress competing for fashion, flair, and status. Putting these kind of questions into the article, finding someone to voice the actual opposing viewpoint, would have given context and clarity to the issues presented in the article.

Finally, Wendy’s view is not the majority view, given that many parents have also formed groups protesting forced masking in school. Does this view get any representation? 

According to local news in the area, parents protested [7] [8]:

A special called meeting for the Hamilton County School Board Thursday night was met with protestors even though members were there to discuss the search for a superintendent. This comes one day after a mask policy was announced and after the first day of school.” Courtesy WRCBTv

“Ms. Willard said she created a Facebook group for like-minded parents to connect and “realized we are not alone. Free the Smiles: Parental Choice Matters is a central location on social media for parents who are engaged against the school system and their overreach of medical authority.”

Page leaves the reader with a final quote from Wendy:

“We’re going to continue to advocate on this issue and push for policies that are supported by medical data and the recommendations of experts,” Wendy said. “We’ll do whatever we can to keep our children and our teachers safe.”

Unfortunately, Wendy’s views are not supported by medical data and her promotion of masks may harm rather than help the children she aims to keep safe. Putting and capping the end of this advocacy piece with this quote is, itself, a misrepresentation of the entire issue.

OUR RATING: Major Negligence. MSNBC-level basic journalistic negligence

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