Republicans and Fox News have won PolitiFact’s lie of the year award for spreading inaccurate information and hysteria about Ebola.
PolitiFact explained why they chose the right’s Ebola hysteria as the lie of the year.
PolitiFact and PunditFact rated 16 separate claims about Ebola as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire on our Truth-O-Meter in 2014. Ten of those claims came in October, as Duncan’s case came to the fore and as voters went to the polls to select a new Congress.
Fox News analyst George Will claimed Ebola could be spread into the general population through a sneeze or a cough, saying the conventional wisdom that Ebola spreads only through direct contact with bodily fluids was wrong.
“The problem is the original assumption, said with great certitude if not certainty, was that you need to have direct contact, meaning with bodily fluids from someone, because it’s not airborne,” Will said. “There are doctors who are saying that in a sneeze or some cough, some of the airborne particles can be infectious.” False.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., described Ebola as “incredibly contagious,” “very transmissible” and “easy to catch.” Mostly False.
Members of Congress even came up with their own scenarios, with some suggesting that Ebola could be a security threat to the United States carried in by illegal immigrants or terrorists. But such ideas contradicted basic facts about the disease.
In early October, Fox News posted a list of the top nine scariest pandemic movies. At the top was the 1995 film Outbreak, in which a virus mutates, becomes airborne and forces the Army to consider dropping a nuclear weapon on a sleepy California town.
PolitiFact also called out the cable news networks for endlessly hyping the hysteria, but make no mistake about it; the hysteria was being fueled by false information being delivered by Republicans on a daily basis. President Obama spent the better part of a month debunking Ebola misinformation that Republicans kept putting out there.
Republicans lied about Ebola because they were using panic and fear to create mistrust of the government in order to win an election. Once Republicans won control of the Senate, Ebola stopped being a pressing issue. Ebola was such a non-issue that House Republicans took the country to the brink of another government shutdown that would have delayed more funding for combating Ebola last week.
The cable news networks tried to use Ebola to increase rating. Republicans used Ebola to win an election. Lost in all of the needless hysteria was the fact that the American people never had anything to fear about Ebola.
The Ebola panic demonstrated that fear based politics didn’t die with the Bush administration. Fear remains the Republican weapon of choice, and the corporate media are happy to go along for the ride if it means increased ratings and profits.
The lie of the year award has returned to its rightful right-wing place in 2014.