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Tuesday 11 February 2020

Steve Walsh - The Next Press Hate Figure

[Update at end of post]

You may not have heard of Steve Walsh. And before today, you would not have been interested in who he was. But thanks to our free and fearless press, you are now hearing all about him. Before long, you will hear that he is A Very Bad Person Indeed, even though he is not. Because the press right now is panicking about the Coronavirus. And Steve Walsh, even though he is now recovered, caught it.
Steve Walsh

As the BBC has reported, “A British man linked to 11 coronavirus cases has spoken for the first time, saying he is ‘fully recovered’ from the illness. Steve Walsh, who remains quarantined in hospital, says his thoughts are with others who have contracted the virus. He said his family have been asked to isolate themselves ‘as a precaution’”.

There is more. “The gas salesman, from Hove in East Sussex, caught the virus in Singapore and is thought to have infected 11 others at a French ski resort. Five of the cases linked to Mr Walsh are in England, five are in France and one is in Majorca, Spain … Two of the new UK cases are understood to be GPs - one of whom works at the County Oak medical centre, in Brighton, East Sussex, which was temporarily closed on Monday”.

Walsh cannot have known at the time of his contact with those other 11 in France that he had the virus. But that will not be enough for the press, which has now identified him as a “Super Spreader”, and with its demand that anyone in that position exercise 20/20 hindsight, will take very little time in casting him as their next hate figure.
After all, the authorities in China have locked down whole cities, such as Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated, in order to contain its spread. And locking down cities of that size - Wuhan, with eleven million inhabitants, is larger in terms of population than London - is not an easy option even for a totalitarian state.

Sure enough, the Murdoch Sun has now told readersTHE British scout leader revealed today as the coronavirus super spreader says he has fully recovered from the killer bug. Businessman Steve Walsh, 53, is feared to have infected at least 11 people across Europe and the UK over the past two weeks”. The Mail was not far behind.

The Brighton coronavirus 'super-spreader' who infected at least 11 Britons is a 53-year-old scout leader and family man who has already beaten the deadly virus in five days, MailOnline can exclusively reveal today”. And guess what? "It is feared Mr Walsh, who is in an isolation unit, came into contact with hundreds of people on his return to Britain”. Aaarrghhh! Jibber! JIBBER! Don’t panic! DON’T PANIC!
And to its shame, the BBC is now discussingSuper-spreading, where individual patients pass on an infection to large numbers of people, is a feature of nearly every outbreak.
It is not their fault but can have a significant impact on how diseases spread” before admitting “[Superspreader] is a bit of a vague term, with no strict scientific definition”.

To which one emergency Doctor has responded “What an awful piece of journalism. There is no such thing as a superspreader. This poor guy has done absolutely nothing wrong”.

That won’t matter to the press. Welcome to the hate machine, Steve Walsh.
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[UPDATE 1800 hours: as the Hacked Off campaign has observed, Walsh "could not have known he had the virus at the time he came into contact with others".

Nevertheless, "Some newspapers are treating him more like a biological terrorist than a victim of this terrible illness". Their report continues "No-one should have to see their personal medical information splashed across national newspapers for friends, neighbours, colleagues and everyone else in their life to see.  There is no public interest in identifying affected individuals by name".

The conclusion? "This coverage is invasive and unethical, and if IPSO were halfway a competent regulator it would act immediately". IPSO will, of course, do nothing.

Our free and fearless press is bang out of order once more. But you knew that already]


Anonymous said...

Incredible, even for tory corporate media skunks.

Yet another demonstration of their complete lack of decency and disregard of truth.

Stinking cowards the lot of them.

Arnold said...

Even if there was such a thing, it wouldn't have been his fault.

QTWTAIN said...

Are these media shits providing Mr Walsh with bodyguards to protect him from threats of violence?

d.mclintock said...

Glad the man's recovered, and hope he can survive the media.
They could have gone with explaining how he had "beaten the deadly virus in 5 days", and praised the people who helped him. I might like a paper who went for the positive, but no, always negative.

As John Prine said,
But all the people who don't fit
Get the only fun they get
From people puttin' people down
People puttin' people down.

Sums up the media for me.

Anonymous said...

Well if the IPSO get involved they're going to be very busy because eveey single newspaper, news agency (and TV news programme) has covered the exact same story. And I mean every single one, including the local papers. But yeah just single out the ones you don't like as is your wont.

Burlington Bertie from Bow said...

Another feather in your cap, Tim; on what other political blog would John Prine get a mention?

And if you haven't already, read Stewart Lee's Observer column from last Sunday. It brilliantly references all your favourites: Neil, Parsons, Liddle, Staines, Montgomerie, Pearson, Kuenssberg, old Uncle Dom Cumming and all.


Anonymous said...

The press dusting down their 'Typhoid Mary' cliches.