Science has long been a problem for conservative columnist George Will, as evidenced by his bizarre series of pieces on climate change. But on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, the syndicated writer went further, questioning the science of Ebola, too.
“The problem is, the original assumption was that with great certitude, if not certainty, was that you need to have direct contact, meaning with bodily fluids with someone, because it’s not airborne. There are now doctors who are saying, we’re not so sure that it can’t be in some instances transmitted by airborne. […]“In fact, there are doctors who are saying that in a sneeze or some cough, some of the airborne particles can be infectious?”
Even Will’s fellow panelists – on Fox, no less – tried to guide him away from such rhetoric, but the conservative columnist seemed as eager to be an Ebola truther as a climate denier.
Pressed for an explanation for saying the exact opposite of scientists, public-health advocates, and subject-matter experts, Will added later in the show, “[T]he University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease, Research and Policy has issued a report saying, quote, there is scientific and epidemiological evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles both near and at a distance from infected patients.”
Is that true? Well, it’s a funny story, actually.
Jon Chait explained:
It is true that the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy’s website published a commentary by two University of Illinois professors suggesting that health-care workers treating Ebola patients should wear respirators. The commentary was misinterpreted by various right-wing media, forcing the Center to post an update explaining that the commentary had been totally misconstrued (“CIDRAP has not made claims that ‘Ebola is Airbone’ or that ‘Ebola [is] Transmittable by Air.’”). Its authors likewise tell Politifact that Will has misinterpreted their work and they do not endorse his conclusion.So even the renegade Freedom Doctors cited by Will turn out not to agree with him. Instead, they agree with “the Oxford Journal of Infectious Diseases and summarize issued by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the New England Journal of Medicine.”
What we’re left with is George Will being given a national platform to provide wrong information to a frightened public. He speaks with the certainty of a man who has convinced himself of his own misguided righteousness, but Americans who turn to Will for accurate commentary are nevertheless left worse off than they were before.