On March 1, Joe Joyce and his wife, Jane, set sail for Spain on a cruise, flying first to Florida. His adult children — Kevin, Eddie and Kristen Mider — suggested that the impending doom of the coronavirus made this a bad idea. Joe Joyce was 74, a nonsmoker, healthy; four years after he opened his bar he stopped drinking completely. He didn’t see the problem.
“He watched Fox, and believed it was under control,’’ Kristen told me.
That weekend, I took my daughter to Universal Studios Florida. I was keeping up with the news, but no one was saying not to travel. No special precautions were being taken at the airport, on the airplane, at the hotel, or at Universal (I did have some sanitizer in my pocket, but I was apparently ahead of the curve). Both flights roundtrip to Orlando were full.
I had a conference scheduled at a major state university later than month. Well after March 1, we got a note via email that the university had consulted with experts at its medical center, and they were told that there was no reason to cancel the conference (though it was canceled later in the month). A local rabbi I know consulted with leading virus specialists in the area just before Purim on March 9, and they said to go ahead with holiday festivities. The first university to announce it was closing was Stanford, on March 6th.
Responsible reporters would note these sorts of thing, and point out that whatever the family believes, no important institutions or media networks were calling on people to stop traveling (or gathering) when the individual in question set off on his cruise. It turns out that we likely should have started serious social distancing at least a couple of weeks earlier than we did. But to blame our not doing so on “Fox News” is just batty.
UPDATE: The author of the Times article is Ginia Bellafante. In addition to the quote above, she goes on about Fox News coverage that took place *after* the man left on his cruise, which obviously could not have influenced him. Meanwhile, some Twitter sleuths have discovered her tweet below, which was in response to the stock market’s drop the previous day. I think it’s fair at this point to say that Ms. Ballafonte is personally responsible for every Coronavirus death in New York.
UPDATE (From Ed):
ANOTHER UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Yep.
Advice to journalists: Don’t want people to think of you as garbage? Stop being garbage. If you can.
Plus, from the comments: “On March 1st, Joe Joyce and his wife, Jane, set sail for Spain. On March 2nd New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was urging New Yorkers to get out and see a play. But yeah, I’d totally blame Fox News.”