That’s Not How It Works

Bad journalism is not needed right now.

I shook my head after seeing this headline in the New York Post: “Kentucky sees highest spike in coronavirus cases after lockdown protests.”

Kentucky experienced its highest single-day spike in coronavirus cases after protests broke out in the state to lift lockdowns, according to reports.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced there were 273 new cases Sunday, bringing the total to 2,960, news station WCPO reported.

“We are still in the midst of this fight against a deadly and highly contagious virus,” Beshear said. “Let’s make sure, as much as we’re looking at those benchmarks and we’re looking at the future, that we are acting in the present and we are doing the things that it takes to protect one another.”

The Bluegrass State is among the regions that have seen demonstrators take to the streets last week to call for the end of lockdown restrictions.

Around 100 protesters gathered Wednesday on the lawn of the Capitol building in Frankfort during Democrat Beshear’s coronavirus briefing, shouting “Open up Kentucky!” and “King Beshear,” the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

The same group returned Friday to the Capitol building, where they were met by barricades, the newspaper reported.

Instead, they circled the area in cars for a drive-through protest of Beshear’s coronavirus restrictions, the report said.

It’s unclear whether the protests had any impact on the surge of deaths reported Sunday in the state.

No, it’s crystal clear: protests within the past week had no impact whatsoever on yesterday’s death count. None. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

I yield to no man in my contempt for yahoos out protesting in the streets over the inconvenience of sheltering in place to help save their fellow citizens from catching a deadly disease.

And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least of the deviation from social distancing from this protest contributed to the spread of the coronavirus and eventually led to a spike in deaths.

But we know for a fact that we don’t go from exposure to death in 3-4 days. Indeed, that’s part of the rationale behind the sheltering in place: people can display no symptoms for two weeks or more, unknowingly spreading the disease.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. John A Peabody says:

    Thanks for pointing this out. The headline led to dozens of FB posts last night. I silently deducted smart points from each person who commented “Dummies!” “Told you!” and “What did they expect?” Simply a blatant example of a headline being technically true but implying something entirely false.

  2. CSK says:

    My impression was that the NYPost is pro-Trump, and thus pro-protests, so I’m surprised this got past an editor.

  3. steve says:

    Focus should have been on the fact that these pro-Trump protestors, were pushing to open up the state against the guidelines set up by their own leader. (I think of these protests as really just being campaign rallies.)


  4. inhumans99 says:

    Fair enough, but the protests and Georgia’s plans to re-open some movie theaters got me to thinking about any reports that might pop up say 10-14 days later after attending a protest/movie regarding any new cases of the Covid. I think it is premature of parts of Europe to open up venues where large numbers gather and I think it is premature for States in the U.S. to do the same.

    Finally, most of the places with protesters were late to the game regarding statewide SIP orders so I call baloney that after having to stay at home by themselves or gasp, with their family or loved ones for a few weeks that they are going insane and acting like the world is ending. I thought folks in the Mid-West/South, and thereabouts were made of sterner stuff and it is us Californians that are supposed to be the snowflakes?

    Seriously, if my 74 year old Aunt (I think I got her age right) with light health issues can hang tough by herself in Turkey where violating orders during the lock down can get you arrested than some dairy farmer in WI, or salt of the earth guy in MI who used to build cars can survive a few more weeks of not going out to the local watering hole. The protesters are showing the world how fragile we in the U.S. are which is not a good look for someone as image obsessed as our President.

  5. Bob@Youngstown says:

    It seems that people have a real problem distinguishing between causation and correlation or association.
    The unfortunate comment in that article was ” it is unclear…”. I agree @James that there is nothing unclear about it (the association of the number of deaths and the protests having just occurred).

    OTOH, can the protests themselves, or the reaction to those protests, give rise to future illness and death. Sure the answer is YES, if viewed in the context of “CAN”.

  6. Stormy Dragon says:

    The article never says the protests caused the spike, it’s pointing out how disconnected the rhetoric of the protest (the pandemic is over and we need to reopen) is from the actual situation (pandemic is not over and is in fact worse than ever).

  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Watching all these protest videos, I’m reminded of the corollary between toting guns and wearing tech clothing in public, and little teenie wieners.

  8. Scott F. says:

    From sub-head:

    Bad journalism is not needed right now.

    The bad journalism in this case rises from giving these protests much more oxygen than they deserve – either in support or opposition.

    These protests are astroturf, they are relatively small, and they are stupid as all hell. Ignore them.

    From where I sit, and as the polling would indicate, the country is in a remarkable place of unity in support of the front line workers in the healthcare and service industries, while predominantly following the science. I know that the “news” tends to focus on the “man bites dog” stories, but considering how fractious the country has been in the last decade, isn’t what is different now the solidarity?

  9. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: even though I know what technical clothing means, every time I hear that phrase the first thing I think is ‘there must be some really elaborate stitching or something.’

  10. Teve says:

    “Wow Julie, those are some really elaborate jeans.“
    “Thanks Jim, I’m a senior, it’s for my Technicals.”

  11. gVOR08 says:

    I’ll give the Post credit for noting it was around a hundred protesters. It would be nice if they mentioned they’re astroturfed kabuki, but I guess that’s a reach. Although how hard would it be to find someone to he-said/she-said that DeVos and Mercer are funding these things?

    I don’t know how the Post covered the protests against W’s Iraq War, but in general these Tea Party II protests, like the Tea Party I protests, get more coverage from the supposedly liberal MSM than the quarter million protesters in NYC against Iraq War II got. If they must cover these silly protests, can they please at least report that they’re feeble.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Doesn’t tech clothing have a wifi connection? Everything else does. Actually I’m bemused by the 21st century when I realize that go out on the lanai and ride my non-electric exercise bike I carry five batteries, in my watch, phone and blue tooth headphones for tunes, iPad for books, and a pulse/blood ox meter.

  13. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I think you mean tactical clothing not technical There’s a big difference between SWAT and camo cargo pants and an Arc’teryx shell jacket.

  14. John430 says:

    “Bad journalism is not needed right now.” Yeah, hold it for the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd.