Journalism in the Time of Pandemic
I am a forty plus year subscriber to the LA Times. I believe in supporting the free press and I think the Times does a decent job these days although it is barely 25 pages and now has an odd number of sections to share over our breakfast table. The front page includes the business section. The California section includes the sports page. The calendar section on April 1, 2020 included a review of “The Bachelor’s” new book, although I wasn’t aware this was a review until a few pages in.
I don’t watch “The Bachelor,” but I understand the show is part of popular culture. I’m annoyed by the publicity celebrity authors enjoy in today’s publishing world, but I still applaud anyone who writes a book. However, the article on page one of the Calendar section “’Bachelor ready to speak his truth” seemed more like an opportunity for Colin Underwood to tell his coronavirus story than a book review and allowed him to state (without challenge by the LA Times) that “the combination of drugs that the president recommended” allowed him to feel better in five days.
As the LA Times reported on the same day in an article on the front page titled “The suspect science behind Trump’s chloroquine claims,” those dependent on these drugs (my husband with inflammatory arthritis and a close friend with lupus) find supplies to be critically short if not nonexistent. Dr. Fauci says there is no evidence these drugs can be used against the virus. The current resident of the White House says something different. Evidently Mr. Underwood is a fan.
Mr. Underwood has had a typical celebrity experience with the virus. He went on Amazon and bought oxygen. He drove to the parking lot behind the medical building of a Huntington Beach doctor on Beach Boulevard and paid two hundred dollars to get tested. He got his test results back in 48 hours. He is recuperating in a third story room overlooking the ocean. I wish him good health.
I’ve heard these celebrity virus stories before, and they make me angry for many reasons but what makes me furious about this “review” is that it allowed Colton Underwood to promote a drug that my husband needs to stay healthy. Thanks to chloroquine, my husband’s disease is stable although still capable of attacking his auto immune system. He has a thirty-day supply of his pills and he can reorder on April 13.th There are alternative drugs he can take but those have more serious side effects. His doctors are terrific. They monitor his internal organs because chloroquine is dangerous.
I wrote a letter to editor of the LA Times yesterday saying that I feel it irresponsible to allow a person of privilege to promote drugs that are dangerous when used without a doctor's guidance and yet still so necessary to people who really need them. I’ll keep you posted if my letter gets published.
Stay safe and healthy.
The image is a photo of Jose Guadalupe Posda's "Rebumbio de calaveras" which shows newsboys hawking calavera sheets.