Ebola Gets Partisan

And right-wing radio takes paranoia to new depths:

Boer Deng, a sane person, praises US officials for preempting panic:

As of now at least, hysteria has not gripped the local public en masse. It can be tricky to convey gravity but avoid undue alarm in a health situation, but [Jack] Herrmann [of the National Association of County and City Health Officials] says much has been learned from dealing with the H1N1 flu outbreak. The key is to be “proactive in keeping people informed and telling them what you know, what you don’t know, and if you don’t know something, when you will,” he says.

A number of questions remain unanswered by the CDC, like what measures will be taken with travelers from West Africa going forward, and what further international efforts this will spur. But so far, the news from Texas is heartening: Whether or not the best approach was taken when initially handling the current Ebola case, the CDC’s “Keep Calm and Carry On” public health message has generally been heeded.

But Matthew Continetti thinks Americans should be afraid:

I … believe it is entirely rational to fear the possibility of a major Ebola outbreak, of a threat to the president and his family, of jihadists crossing the border, of a large-scale European or Asian war, of nuclear proliferation, of terrorists detonating a weapon of mass destruction. These dangers are real, and pressing, and though the probability of their occurrence is not high, it is amplified by the staggering incompetence and failure and misplaced priorities of the U.S. government. It is not Ebola I am afraid of. It is our government’s ability to deal with Ebola.

Margaret Hartmann notes other figures on the right who share this view:

Over the past few days, Republican lawmakers have been sharing some terrifying thoughts about the Obama administration’s Ebola response. “It’s a big mistake to downplay and act as if ‘oh, this is not a big deal, we can control all this,'” Senator Rand Paul warned. “This could get beyond our control.” … Republican senator Jerry Moran is one of several Republicans calling on the president to appoint an Ebola czar. He told BuzzFeed that even lawmakers are having a hard time figuring out who to talk to. “I don’t think there is a person in charge,” he said. “And I don’t think there is a plan internationally to bring the folks together to combat this.”

And Brian Powell catches Laura Ingraham peddling bad science:

After news outlets reported the discovery of an Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States, radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham hosted Dr. Elizabeth Vliet to inform listeners about the disease. Vliet used the platform to accuse President Obama of “underplaying the risk” of Ebola and suggested the disease could be transmitted through the air, an opinion that runs contrary to widespread medical opinion. To make her case, Vliet cited a debunked study from 2012 that studied transmission of the virus between pigs and monkeys.

Charles Pierce is alarmed by this sort of irresponsible journalism:

What we had in the AIDS epidemic was political opportunism married to what became obvious ignorance. What we are seeing now, promulgated by a conservative bubble machine that has built a self-sustaining universe around itself, is political opportunism married to an active campaign of disinformation.

Josh Marshall chimes in:

There’s a new meme emerging on the right which I’ve noticed in the last 24 hours. It goes like this: The ‘government’ or President Obama promised Ebola wouldn’t or couldn’t get to the United States. But now it’s here. So people, the argument goes, are rightly worried that the ‘government’ is lying to them or isn’t telling them the whole story. In other words, when you see the next ignoramus on Fox News jonesing on about how he’s not going to be a patsy for the virology elite, that’s the story.

I’ve now heard it on Fox, in National Review and a few other outlets. It’s hard for me to tell whether this is simply lying about what various officials including the President have said, ignorance of how contagious diseases (and particularly Ebola) work or just a blase willingness to fan hysteria. Unfortunately it seems like all three.