* This article compares two reports of the same event. One is objectively detailed by a
European News agency. The second is an updated version of a Daily Beast story that at first included no details other than to link the words anti-vaxxer, dies and Covid-19. Links to both articles are at the bottom of the page as documentation for this review.
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It is bad enough that the American people have been subjected to a revolving door of conflicting information spread by its own government officials but when a reputable news agency like The Daily Beast chooses to taunt a dead man in hopes of shifting public opinion to a course of action that is as much supposition as fact, the result harms everyone, not just journalistic integrity.
Opting for headlines rather than fact, even quality media outlets are now leaning into the repugnant practice of verbally hanging the body in the public square as proof that vaccines "save lives" and that vaccination is the only way out of this crisis (an opinion which is questioned by more than few well educated physicians). Confusing their role in society with marketing or public relations, media has taken on emotion-based rhetoric akin to the old fashioned party line telephone line. That in itself is dangerous on many different levels.
According to both articles, an admitted anti-vaxxer, Maurizio Buratt, 61, was diagnosed with double pneumonia and died in a Verona, Italy hospital on December 28. Both state that Buratt stood by his anti-vaxxing position even after being admitted. Neither article reports a positive COVID-19 test. Only The Daily Beast article uses the Covid-19 term in its headlines as the cause of death.
The ANSA article appears to have been researched and written by its own staff. There is no reference to Twitter feeds or copying and pasting from another website. On the other hand, The Daily Beast article comes almost entirely from two sources--the ANSA article and a local newspaper (Brescia Today). Interestingly, the local news account admits reporters had to ask the attending doctor repeatedly about COVID-19 before the doctor would "admit" to a COVID connection. As one reads the article however, the doctor's statement was to say it "seems" to be COVID--not to definitively label COVID as the cause of death. Reporters apparently were looking for that phrase and targeted that information regardless of any other factors which might have come into play.
Had The Daily Beast looked into the definition of "double pneumonia", it would have found that the condition can be caused by any thing that irritates the lungs to the point the body cannot remove fluid in a timely manner. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 750,000 children died from pneumonia in 2019, the year before COVID hit. Causes listed on this website include multiple viruses, bacterial infections and even such common contaminants as mold or other fungi. The webpage does not, however, mention adult pneumonia number but general figures found elsewhere report a case rate of between 15 and 20 cases per 100,000 people in industrialized countries **Italy would expect between 9000 and 12000 cases each year.
Then there is he habit of news agencies going for the popular conclusion and skipping over other more relevant information. How often do reporters ask any other question that might change the viewpoint of the reader? Did Buratt have a health directive that prohibited treatment that might have saved his life? Was Buratt on any of dozens of medications that compromised his immune system? Were there any other health issues that came into play in his anti-vaccine beliefs? And finally, was his "Communist" comment about healthcare an actual judgement of today's health care system or a cultural ideology left over from Italy's 20 year period of Fascist control? The story isn't complete until these questions are considered. To condemn a man for his beliefs without understanding his motivation is not just bad journalism but the sign of a closed minded industry.
Too often in this political climate, it is the narrow-minded focus of major media that seeks to steer public opinion in one direction regardless of its basis in fact. Only when the news is reported objectively does it serve to educate the public rather than subdue it.