News & Politics

Former NYT Reporter Alex Berenson Swings Back at Harsh Critics

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Alex Berenson’s Twitter timeline has been one of my reliable reads since the start of the pandemic. Without missing a beat, he asked relevant questions about the information we were being given. He also dug into data sources that weren’t getting any attention. Perhaps most important, he began to point out when the ‘expert’ data that was governing when residents of some states were permitted to go outdoors was horribly wrong.

You only need to look at his pinned tweet, which is absolutely correct, to see why he may have made some enemies in the media and is certainly disliked by tinpot tyrants like Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer:

Politics and Pandemics

Berenson is unique because he refuses to politicize the pandemic response. He relies on data and demonstrable fact to advance his opinion. He has brought much needed skepticism to the discussion regarding predictive models, which is simply not allowed. As a former New York Times reporter, his detractors have a hard time attacking him. As he states in a blog post on his website:

But that game doesn’t work with me; I’m as credentialed as the people shouting at me, only I follow the facts where they go. (This is why these people hated Tell Your Children so much; one can know cannabis has serious mental health risks and still want it legalized, but the blue-checks had been telling each other the same nonsense for so long they genuinely didn’t understand that cannabis was dangerous. They’re still trying to figure out what to do with that news. And they can’t stand knowing it.)

So yelling at me to shut up doesn’t work, and trying to bait me into arguments doesn’t work, and telling me my tone is wrong doesn’t work (even when it is); I keep on merrily presenting studies and facts, and even if the media won’t pay attention, other people will.

Just the Facts Please

Likewise, I prefer research over emotion and facts to narrative. On Twitter and Facebook, I have been accused of not taking the pandemic seriously. When I loudly opposed my local mayor’s shutdown, even friends questioned my sanity.

After Dr. Drew Pinsky got panned by Media Matters, I got hounded for quoting him and questioning the media narrative. I also wrote a piece in early March called “My plan for living through Coronavirus despite the media.” With the exception of going to the gym, which I was forbidden to do by local order, my plan has not changed.

I have been advocating to open the economy in most parts of the country pretty much since ’15 days to Slow the Spread’ was announced. At the time I felt there was no way to contain a virus that spread asymptomatically where large numbers of those who caught it had mild symptoms at most. Turns out a Stanford researcher now agrees.

The only way forward is to give people the information they need to make their own independent risk assessment. Clearly there are people who will need to take greater care, and specific communities that need to be protected. Let’s do that and move on.

We may never get a vaccine. Therapies will get better and there are some promising new ones on the horizon. In any case, keeping people in their homes until either of these is a reality is not an acceptable policy. We are social creatures who need to interact. There are only so many virtual happy hours we are going to tolerate, and with kids out of school, Berenson makes another excellent point:

Berenson’s Clap Back

So, it is time to stop politicizing this pandemic. I am sure there are any number of policies Berenson and I would disagree on. The fact that we are pretty much lockstep in terms of ending lockdowns should be a clue. This is about data, facts and making a personal decision about how you and your family wish to proceed. Berenson summarized with some truth:

The third reason is the most obvious: the hysterics have been wrong. They know it, whether they admit it or not. Except for the most at-risk populations – who should be the focus of our protective efforts – #COVID looks to be a minor risk. And with every day that goes by, every state and country that reopen without catastrophe, the lockdowns appear more insane.

We should all be THRILLED about this fact, but too many of us aren’t. So the media (and the lockdown governors) are stretching further and further to try to scare people – the recent pediatric stuff being only the grossest example. I’m going to keep calling them out. Plenty of other people will too, but not necessarily as aggressively.

Amen, sir.