Anti-Science

No, Nashville’s Mayor Didn’t Cover-up COVID-19 Data from Bars

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Transcript:

Did the Democratic mayor of Nashville purposely hide low COVID-19 numbers to justify a continued lockdown of bars and restaurants when none was actually needed?

NO, he didn’t, because WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT JESUS CHRIST DO YOU THINK DEMOCRATS DON’T LIKE BARS AND RESTAURANTS? Do people with progressive values just hate food, drinks, and the working class? NO. How do you think America got sushi and decent beer? That’s right, LIBERALS. Jesus fuck.

Ahem. So yeah, Fox News, aka the reason why about half of Gen Xers are no longer completely dreading the impending death of their own parents, exploded recently with the news that a huge cover-up was happening in Nashville, Tennessee. They got their information from Nashville’s local Fox news channel Fox 17. It’s important to note that local Fox affiliates aren’t necessarily the conservative, ignorant shitholes that Fox News is, but in this case Fox 17 is owned by Sinclair, who you may remember from this clip in which Sinclair-owned stations around the country parrot pro-Trump fascist bullshit. They are…well…”extremely dangerous to our democracy” might be one way to put it.

Fox 17 reported that when the Nashville mayor’s office emailed the health department asking for solid COVID-19 numbers, the health department replied, “We have certainly refused to give counts per bar because those numbers are low per site.” 

Wow, a cover-up! Except if you’re a real journalist who is doing his job so you read the entire quote, you’d realize that it’s not a cover-up. The health official was pointing out that they don’t like to list out how many people got a disease at a particular named bar because if that number is low, then it will be very easy for people to figure out who got COVID-19, and that would be a violation of the patients’ HIPAA rights. If you’re unfamiliar, HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and since 1996 it has protected Americans from having their private medical data made public or otherwise used inappropriately. Even if you’re a stupid fuck who decided to go bar-hopping in the middle of a pandemic and you ended up catching the ‘rona, you deserve to die your excruciating death in peace and privacy. Or, of course, you also deserve to live after a few weeks of feeling like shit, in peace and privacy.

So that’s it. If 100 people get COVID-19 from one bar then it’s probably not risking any one person’s private health information to say it publicly. If two people get COVID-19 from one bar, well now you’ve narrowed it down to the point that a respectful government is going to want to keep that information private.

And in the full quote you can see that the health official did say that they could release the total number of people who contracted COVID-19 from bars, because that would tell people the accurate number without violating anyone’s privacy. And in fact a journalist with two brain cells to rub together might have looked it up and realized that the health department did in fact do just that, in a livestreamed press conference on July 2nd (skip to 30:30).

Once these very blatant and obvious fuckups were revealed to Fox 17, they pulled their own article about it. But our parents and grandparents already saw it on Fox News, where Fox and Friends covered it, which forced Steve Doocy to apologize later “for any confusion.” Yes Steve, there was some confusion. The confusion was how a modern society continues to allow morons like you to broadcast absolute lies to millions of gullible people.

And then there’s good old Tucker Carlson. Carlson, who Tom Tomorrow once said looks like a “confused dog who’s too dumb to understand that if he sits and stays he gets a treat,” breathlessly reported the Fox 17 story as gospel to his credulous audience. When the story was duly retracted, Carlson actually managed to make Steve Doocy look like a stand-up guy — he didn’t apologize, or faux-pologize, or correct himself. He simply threw his arms in the air and said “we don’t know the truth,” because knowing the truth would require thinking about facts, and his feelings got in the way I guess. In fact, you can still find Tucker Carlson’s take on the story up on Fox News’s website, where it remains unedited except for an italicized note at the top reading “FOX 17 in Nashville pulled its original story from its website amid pressure from the Nashville mayor’s office, who claimed that the leaked emails that reportedly suggested a coverup were taken out of context.”

That’s like if I broadcast a report saying that Tucker Carlson likes to eat his own semen and when I get a letter from his lawyer detailing all the reasons Carlson does NOT eat his own semen I can just say I’m retracting my claim amid pressure from Tucker Carlson, who claims that his semen tastes terrible.

The mayor’s office doesn’t need to “claim” anything — that word is used for an assertion we do not know is true. But the emails are there for anyone to look at, even Tucker Carlson! And by reading those emails a reasonable person can see that the idea of a “coverup” was made up out of whole cloth.

The second sentence in the editor’s note is even more amazing: “It has also been reported that the data in question was released back in August.”

That’s a thing of beauty right there. The passive voice is incredible: it has also been reported? By whom?? “That the data in question was released back in August”? It WAS RELEASED BACK IN AUGUST! In fact it was released in July, which we can see by watching this actual video clip of a livestreamed press conference during which the data is very publicly released!

I’m sorry, I guess all this is just to point out what a bunch of lying hacks Fox News talking heads are and what a bunch of morons Americans are for gobbling up whatever garbage news bites they drop on the floor. We’re all doomed.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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