by Dick Polman of the University of Pennsylvania
Six days after printing an article that stated Covid-19 was the most cited concern of Ohio voters polled, the Gazette chose to print what I consider to be one of the most dishonest and reckless columns I’ve ever seen. I just can’t figure out why! Did they think that Dick’s column was funny? Did they like the fact it scored points against President Trump? Did it match the rhetoric coming from Vice President Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, President Trump’s opponents in the upcoming elections. If not one of these reasons, why would they print it? Maybe they printed it as an example of the kind of column that should never be printed in a reputable news paper? Whatever the reason, someone at the Gazette thought it was worthy of printing and reading!
The column starts off with the following:
“Here’s a pop quiz. Which of these rash acts is the stupidest?
a. Frying your had in cooking oil
b. Breaking your thumb with a hammer
c. Swimming laps in a polluted river
d. Volunteering to be Donald Trump’s guinea pig”
The column finishes with:
“If a vaccine suddenly appears before Election Day, the first person to inject it and demonstrate its safety should be Donald Trump. In a public ceremony. Let’s see if he’s willing to put his body on the line.”
Any reasonable person reading the column would come away with the belief that Dick Polman was attempting to convince people that it would be foolish to take a vaccine if one were made available any time soon. Because of his past comments and the words he chose in this one, Dick probably believes it would be foolish to take a Covid-19 vaccine as long as President Trump is in office. But if he were to lose in November then it would suddenly be okay? Or do we have to wait until Biden and Harris actually take office?
The column isn’t only reckless, it is extremely dishonest! Not all the vaccine research is being done in the United States. And even the research that is being done in the US is being done under the watchful eye of the FDA and other regulatory agencies. And possibly most important in ensuring that any vaccine released for public use is the fact it turns out not to be safe it would destroy the reputation of the company that produced it. Companies are usually cautious about destroying their reputation in a capitalistic economy. The only place they aren’t concerned is in socialist economies where they are protected by government.
But what might be worse is the fact that Dick knows his proposal isn’t even possible when he proposes:
“…the first person to inject it and demonstrate its safety should be Donald Trump.”
Donald Trump can’t be the first person. That’s not because he is President, though that might be a good reason for not being first. By the time it is released for public use it will already have completed Phase I, Phase II and Phase III trials. And what are Phase III trials. They are trials where humans have volunteered to be injected to test the safety of the vaccine. So already hundreds, if not thousands of individuals have felt comfortable that the vaccine has proved to be safe after Phase I and Phase II trials, that they are willing to volunteer to be part of Phase III trials.
But if that’s the case, why is Dick attempting to convince readers of his column they would be fools to be vaccinated? Considering how serious the Covid-19 virus is and dishonest and reckless Dick’s column is, why did the Gazette chose to print it?
That’s a question I’ve asked of the Gazette’s editor and the president of Gannett News. I’ve also written to others who I think would be concerned like Gov. Mike DeWine. If you have a concern, please express it too!
Editor, Chillicothe Gazette, 50 West Main Street, Chillicothe, Ohio 45601
Maribel Perez Wadsworth, President, Gannett News, 7590 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Virginia, 22107-0150
And after this column, I hope we never see a column by Dick Polman in the Gazette again. That would show some good judgement on their part. Maybe all Gannett papers should do the same!