CHICAGO – As the federal government moves to implement new guidelines for healthcare workers and other people arriving from West Africa and bring uniformity to the widely disparate policies initiated by states, one aspect of the so called “Ebola scare” is unfortunately being overlooked: the terrible toll it is taking on American television news personalities charged with the responsibility of maintaining a constant state of manufactured panic.
“It’s just terrible. The stress is wreaking havoc with my complexion,” said Tiffany Starr, evening anchor for the local news broadcast of station WNDY in Chicago, Illinois. “I mean, you can’t see it, of course, because we just have the best makeup people, but believe me, the blotchiness and, oh my god, even zits…they’re there.”
Similar horror stories are being told in television station newsrooms from Maine to California. Even the major broadcast networks and twenty-four hour cable news organizations are not immune (pun clearly not intended). “Look at this!” A visibly upset Wolf Blitzer, the CNN news anchor and reporter exclaimed, commenting for this story via Skype and holding out a clump of what looked to be his hair.
And while it’s true that more Americans have walked on the surface of the moon, than have been diagnosed, let alone died, from Ebola, don’t dare tell a television news professional that the story doesn’t have to be told, over and over again and at increasing levels of hysteria with appropriately ominous music and frightening, green-screen graphics. Despite the physical and emotional toll it is taking on them, they won’t hear of it.
As one MSNBC anchor, who asked not to be identified, told us: “Look, this is our job. To find out what’s happening in the world and to make our viewers afraid of it. And if that means we have to pay a price, we pay it. All we ask is that somebody recognize what is happening to us and do something about it. We’re losing a lot of good people out there.”
“I’m old and already sort of fucked up looking, so it’s no skin off my balls,” said Fox News Channel president, Roger Ailes. “But to these young guys and gals, especially the gals, what they look like is their whole career! Of course, I wouldn’t expect this White House to give a crap.”
As if to underscore Mr. Ailes’ point, Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who announced the new federal policy, when asked for comment, said: “Are you kidding me with this? Like I have time to worry…who the hell is this? I’m hanging up.”