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At the start of 2021, the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet ran an article titled: “We failed”.
Hardly news, the fact they went on to apologise was.
For they admitted they had stopped being journalists during Covid and forgotten that their job was to question and analyse.
My initial reaction was cynicism. This was the Covid Krone was running dry, so they were moving onto the sorry Krone, with phase three – the redemption Krone – waiting in line. My second reaction was to think they should shove it, based on the above.
In a way, my feelings still rest there.
Closer to home, you won’t get an apology though. Some media have become entrenched and are doubling down, some are trying to twist the truth and pretend that the current-day problems were down to Covid rather than restrictions, as if the virus entered parliament and voted on rules and signed them into law.
There are a few too who you can see being tortured by reality. Fergal Bowers comes to mind as on Twitter you can witness the weird defences of his job and that of his colleagues throughout the pandemic. His desperation to convince others of their efforts is clearly meant for the mirror as he tries to convince himself.
I’m angry at journalism. I think frankly it has fallen apart and, regardless of what it does in terms of reputable work, faith won’t simply be restored. I also think a lot of people leeching a living and a lot more people trying to get ahead by such influential positions don’t have the ability to engage in reputable work. But being such a kind guy, I decided to help them out.
Not just for a day or a week, but for the rest of the year. I’ve decided to do their jobs for them so that they can just pop in here and the research is there to copy and past.
It’s too late of course to stop the unfolding catastrophe, and that shouldn’t be forgotten, but some amends could be made by a degree of accountability. That comes from the questions that Danish publication said it had forgotten how to ask. So here were the 52 queries that needed to be thrown by journalists over 2023, towards politicians and scientists, opposition parties and government, medics and academics, the EU and the WHO.
The lot of them.
- We know that Covid was prevalent and common in Italian health staff at the latest in September 2019. And it was in London and Paris a month later, also at the latest. So given there were no restrictions, and life went on as normal for another six months, how was it that Covid wasn’t an issue come March? It’s either that it wasn’t that transmissible which is unlikely, which means it naturally peaked and troughed without us doing anything. So why did we do anything?
- Was there ever a suspicion that the videos coming out of China of people dropping dead on the streets and in supermarkets in an instant were fake given this happened nowhere else? And if there was a suspicion why trust Chinese advice after that?
- Why weren’t the pre-pandemic plans for a pandemic followed and, instead, why were they torn up and replaced with a lockdown model that hadn’t been tried in history, that China demanded, and that began with those Chinese boots on the ground in Italy telling the government there that the lockdown wasn’t strict enough?
- Why did the WHO help China cover-up the pandemic for months before we even knew it had left the communist state, with The Sunday Times reporting that the global health organisation put the Chinese economy before the pandemic, having long since been infiltrated by it.
- Why should we still listen to WHO warnings about this not being over, given they didn’t tell us it had started such was their self-interest?
- While not being experts, how can we call anyone an expert who even in the unknown phase of Covid took the elderly who had Covid from hospitals and stuffed them into nursing homes with those who were most vulnerable to the virus? Where are the minutes of these meetings and how was the decision arrived at because a shaved monkey would have the ability to call it lethal?
- Why were doctors in nursing homes getting elderly patients, who weren’t allowed anyone at their side and often weren’t of sound mind and body, to sign their own “do not resuscitate” orders that condemned them to definite death not if but when they caught this given the policy at the time?
- When and why did antigen tests stop becoming snake oil?
- Was there not a conflict of interest VIA the head of the only Irish lab processing PCR tests was also Chair of the NPHET Coronavirus Expert Advisory Group who stopped antigen tests?
- Why were there no epidemiologists on NPHET?
- WhY were there only medical-minded people on NPHET given this wasn’t just a medical problem but a social and economic disaster, and those factors needed to be balanced out by experts from those areas?
- What was the purpose of NPHET modelling given it gave numerous scenarios? For instance in December 2021 there was a lockdown when the actual numbers were better than the most optimistic models.
- Why were those behind the NPHET models not held to account for being continuously wrong, and why were they two of Philip Nolan’s students whose previous work in that area amounted to studies on scoring in snooker?
- Was a cost-benefit analysis around lockdowns ever done? And if not, why not, given the implications around not just life but also the level of death for years to come as an effect of them rather than Covid itself.
- Was it not inappropriate for government TDs under a state of emergency – meaning a bypassing of the tender process – to have family members receive millions in contracts. Such as Eamon Ryan’s brother and also the family of Jennifer Carroll-MacNeill who received €3.2m for trying to bring home zero-hour contract nurses in a pandemic, and with such figures and clients on their books later sold their company for €318m to a Japanese business.
- Why were leaked files around ISAG, which showed their attempts to lie and deceive to detrimental levels, not brought up by Irish mainstream media in their endless interviews with the group, rather their members were given endless column inches to further push these lies?
- Did it ever occur that printing money at an incredible rate to give some people to sit at home and some businesses to stay closed might lead to brutal inflation due to the devaluing of money. And if not why not? And if so what was the plan to deal with it?
- Why was a method that showed multiples of actual Covid deaths used before Leo Varadkar admitted as much in the Dail chamber, and why was that method and the bloated figure it provided used thereafter too?
- Why did the WHO state in October of 2020 state that their very best estimate suggested one in 10 people globally had already contracted Covid at that point which meant a 0.16 per cent infection mortality rate, and if this was to be ignored as it wasn’t reliable, why were the WHO used as a credible source in their many warnings after this?
- Why, at a time when half a million people were forced from work and onto €300 a week at best, and knowing that the borrowing would be landed on those same people as record debt was run up, did TDs see it fit to four times vote through different pay rises for themselves so that at worst they reached a six figure pay packet?
- Why did Micheál Martin get away with breaking the rules when holding an indoor event in a boxing club to remember his father, while telling the numbers there to take off masks for photos? And why was he allowed to lie when saying it was an official department event when his own department said it wasn’t.
- Was it a case of NPHET leaking recommendations to get their way, the government leaking them so they could say they’d no choice, or both, and who exactly was behind the many leaks? Or better, as journalists, who was leaking to you given you know the answer?
- Why was the grounds for lockdown allowed to continually shift so that when one target was met, the problem was shifted to another? Such as hospitalisations being replaced by R number being replaced by incidence rate being replaced by caution no matter the above.
- While Sweden got much wrong at the start (and while many make bad comparisons with neighbours when demographics are vitally different and claim there’s low population density when 80 per cent of Swedish people live in towns and cities the size of Limerick or greater), why was their relatively open system that led to low deaths for much of the pandemic never studied and looked at as a potential for the best of both words? Indeed, why was it completely dismissed based on almost a lust for it to fail and for us to keep lockdowns?
- Why did the Chinese government go strong after Sweden, including their newspapers calling them a danger to democracy, suggesting they wanted to kill people, and have their hockey team show up in space suits for a photo opportunity at Stockholm Airport with the purpose being how dangerous this place was due to their policies?
- Why was the fact New York had a higher death rate per capita than Texas and New Jersey than, Florida despite the length and severity of lockdown, not taken into account in restrictions here? Or at least looked at as data that went against what we were doing and worthy of investigation rather than dismissal?
- What was the point of €9 meals?
- Why was the traffic light system developed early on, and that allowed counties to have a target, meaning a carrot as well as a stick, dumped so quickly?
- Why were the Department of Health spending some of their budget on tracking the comments of private citizens, journalists and elected officials who questioned their approach, who signed off on this, and what was the purpose?
- Given the problem was oft cited as the health service, despite all the billions spent, while no extra hospital beds were created, why was that health service not improved, and what plans are now in place to make the sixth most expensive health service on earth efficient rather than merely costly?
- Why were those with similar qualifications and backgrounds, if not better although such terms can be arbitrary, not only not given a platform to voice an opposing view but in many cases like that of Dr Martin Feeley forced from the HSE?
- Given so many views, including the likes of Dr Feeley became policy ultimately, why were certain opinions dubbed disinformation and both heckled by media and banned by social media? The idea of herd immunity, vitamin D, vaccine passports and more were at various times but forward as valid opinions that ultimately came true but flagged as conspiracy theories? And should media not be pushing for social media to allow rather than control opinion rather than letting the likes of Twitter and Facebook push certain strands of views that suit a specific narrative that just so happens to benefit them and their business?
- Will journalists look to their boardrooms and try and see why many were told to write certain stories, take apart certain angles, promote certain people, and demonise certain others, leading to a narrative of lockdowns no matter what, which happened to see these publications return to profit no matter the cost to society?
- How can Long Covid be pushed as a certainty given Covid hasn’t existed for a long time thus we don’t know what effect it will have.
- How can vaccines be pushed as safe in the long term given they haven’t been in people a long time, big pharma has a history of skewing results to get drugs to market regardless of safety, and there have been previous vaccines with unknown side affects pushed as safe but that caused damage in many people in the medium to long term?
- Given the above, why would you vaccinate children who are statistically not at risk from Covid?
- Why was there no punishment for those handing out vaccines to friends, and their kids’ teachers at a time of in-school grading rather than state exams, when the elderly were at winter risk and each injection that went for a benefit in kind left someone of age in big trouble a little longer?
- Why were private hospitals rented out at a huge price when hospitals were least at risk based on seasonality, meaning the likes of Denis O’Brien and those refusing to pay compensation for the Tuam massacre among other atrocities were rewarded to the tune of tens of millions when they weren’t needed; and why weren’t they commandeered as part of the all-in-it together narrative when public hospitals actually came under stress?
- Given government funding, and a global crisis, why wasn’t the vaccine treated like penicillin after the second world war where research and production was state funded meaning prices were rock bottom and the patent was state owned and given out to make sure of maximum supply? Why instead did all sides of the aisle in the States and the EU make sure that they’d pay top dollar, maximise pharma profits, and limit supply speed?
- What was and occasionally still is the point of vaccine passports for travel at a stage where they aren’t used domestically and everyone is going to get Covid? In other words what exactly are they there to stop?
- How many jabs are people expected to take and how often given they wane? If we need four now why not five in a few months? What will ever change to stop endless jabs and a forever threat over your basic rights if you don’t.
- How much thought was given to the level of poverty restrictions created, what with 100m children alone driven into abject poverty so far while the 10 richest people doubled their value to 1.6 trillion? How many of those in poverty will die compared to Covid? Was there any plan put in place for this?
- Will the companies that benefitted hugely, and won’t be giving their market share back to the local shop, ever be forced to hand back what they made from this and play their part? And if not, why not, given we are able to introduce legislation overnight that makes ordinary people pay to the point of huge suffering?
- Where were the human rights and civil liberties and all these prominent groups over the last two years, as the most basic western liberties and values including the right to protest were curbed and at times banned for people? Why did the likes of Fine Gael promote the need for protest in Belarus in a pandemic and stop it at home; why did the likes of Justin Trudeau promote the shutting down of Indian cities via farmers’ protests in a pandemic but then demand people doing the same in his backyard stand down as they don’t share his values and are dangerous?
- What changed overnight in terms of data that we went from “we don’t know enough and this is still deadly” to “it’s suddenly okay to fill the pubs and get langered again as yesterday was completely different”.
- Why was the South African scientist who discovered Omicron and understood Omicron told by the EU to keep quiet about it being far less deadly?
- Given that governments, oppositions, media, academia, science and the medical profession all took such a one-sided view of bias to the point of bullying, how will any inquiries into the future be independent?
- What are the hard and fast numbers that will spark lockdowns in the future, for there is surely a threshold and this wasn’t a panicked whim?
- How did the health service survive the Christmas just gone, when in fact people were less protected than in 2021 due to booster take up and time since the last booster?
- Why are so many prominent people who demanded lockdowns not pulled up when now bemoaning the effects of what they demanded?
- Since all of the above was as obvious as it was important, why did none of it come from the media lips at the endless press conferences and given the endless access they had to those in charge?
- And will it ever?
Although that last question may be rhetorical…
2 January, 2022.