The main subject at yesterday's White House press briefing, which I dropped in on, was swine flu. It seems safe to say that, prior to the moment the story broke last Friday, none of the reporters who were asking about swine flu knew anything about it. Still, they were determined to make it not just big news, but practically Watergate. Somebody actually said to Robert Gibbs, the president's press secretary, "What did you know and when did you know it..." Who the president might have seen on his recent trip to Mexico and his personal odds of infection were of crisis-level concern.
Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of Vanderbilt University's Department of Preventative Medicine, appeared on CNBC shortly after the story broke and was asked (by a skeptical me) to give the outbreak a 1-10 rating of risk. He gave it a 2 for the public, and a 4 for healthcare professionals. I'd certainly put the media storm at a 7 or 8.
We are now at a SARS (remember SARS?) level of coverage, and have well-surpassed Avian flu -- quite likely because swine flu sounds much worse. Both are public heath scares that failed to live up to their catastrophic billings.
Continue reading on newser.com
Follow Michael Wolff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MichaelWolffNYC