Death Becomes Him


From top: ‘Death’ from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957); RTÉ News Health Correspondent Feargal Bowers


Frank Armstrong, writing In CassandraVoices [full article at link below

The Irish public service broadcaster RTÉ says that ‘nine out of ten people in Ireland say RTÉ has been their main media source for accessing information on Covid-19.’

The broadcaster recently launched an initiative against fake news entitled: ‘The truth matters at RTÉ – here’s why,’ claiming:

‘Now that society is grappling with the challenges of a pandemic, and the inescapable anxiety that comes with it, the potential for manipulation of the facts is huge.’

But RTÉ has at times provided an unreliable account of the danger posed by Covid-19 to the Irish public.

Throughout the pandemic RTÉ’s Health Correspondent Feargal Bowers has pointed to the exceptional danger posed by Covid-19, which fits within what Nancy Tomes has called the “killer germ genre of journalism”.

Bower’s describes a Grim Reaper that is redolent of the character of Death from Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal:

‘This virus could visit any of us, at any time, in our homes, or in work.’

‘It does not make an appointment. ‘                                                       

‘Going outside involves a certain roll of the dice.’

‘Inside you may also encounter this intruder.’

‘Like any lottery, there are things people can do to improve their chances.’

‘And hold onto the most valuable prize of all – your life.’

In fact, we are dealing with a virus with an infection fatality rate below 1% according to Nature magazine, or ‘possibly as low as 0.2% or 0.3%,’ according to Lone Simonsen, a professor of population health sciences at Roskilde University in Denmark who has worked at the CDC and National Institutes of Health in the U.S.; others such as Professor Johan Gisecke, a member of the WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Infectious Hazards (STAG-IH) previously suggested a figure as low as 0.1%. The IFR has varied from region to region, with New York, Madrid, London and Lombardy particularly badly hit, but in Africa, as indicated, the IFR appears to be exceptionally low.

With better treatments – especially the use of the generic drug Dexamethasone – and protection of vulnerable groups, chances of survival have improved since the early stages of the pandemic.

This seems evident from the relatively low death toll currently witnessed across Europe, including in Ireland, despite rising case numbers. Many of us also harbour T-cell immunity from other coronaviruses.

Yet Bowers has continued to make factually incorrect claims in a succession of articles, including on September 5, which stated:

‘The World Health Organization says data to date suggests 80% of Covid-19 infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infection, requiring oxygen and 5% are critical, requiring ventilation.’

Ventilators are now used sparingly in the treatment of Covid-19, and large orders were cancelled in April. Remarkably, Bowers seems to have copy and pasted that information from a WHO Situation Report from March 6, stating:

‘…data to date suggest that 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic, 15% are severe infection, requiring oxygen and 5% are critical infections, requiring ventilation.’

The continued use of data from March undermines RTÉ’s credibility and should be a source of embarrassment.

Covid-19 in Ireland: Elusive Facts (Frank Armstrong, CassandraVoices)







Stop it.



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30 thoughts on “Death Becomes Him

  1. GiggidyGoo

    RTE news – where you never get the full truth.
    9 out of 10 people say it’s been their main service for news? Usual bullpoo

  2. Joe Small

    I’m loving this from Frank;s own bio –
    “Frank Armstrong graduated with a BA (International) from UCD in 1998, specialising in history, during which time he spent a year at the University of Amsterdam on an Erasmus scholarship.”

    Yeah, Frank, I did an arts degree and went on an Erasmus piss-up year too. Well done you!

    1. Rob_G

      I know that when I am looking for public health advice, my first ports of call are Technical Managers with their own Youtube accounts, and humanities graduates who contribute to obscure blogs.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        That’s why you take it from Stephen Donnelly these days, and a university dropout prior to him. ROFL !

        1. Rob_G

          You know that these nice men have a big department of hard-working men and women doing all the leg-work for them – they don’t actually have to come up with fully-formed policies concerning complicated areas of public health all by themselves?

          Rob: teaching Giggidy about the world since oh, about 2017

          1. E'Matty

            eh, no. You do know they are simply accepting and adopting that which is fed to them by the WHO right? Who were the two largest sponsors of the WHO in 2019? Who is now the largest?

          2. GiggidyGoo

            They don’t actually have fully-formed policies. The quality of poster from the frape room is dismal.

    1. Cian

      I note Cian hasn’t given a pronouncement on the Dutch figures.
      I’m not sure what you are implying? I’ve never mentioned Dutch figures – why would I? What is special about the Dutch figures? Can you give me a hint as to what you are talking about?

      Or the same type of charge for Ireland?
      Nope. While I can understand each word individually… the sentence, to me, is meaningless.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Of course you wouldn’t mention Dutch figures, but more importantly the direction of bars on the charts – which aren’t too far off the Irish ones.
        Same type of ‘chart’ (Misspelling). Of course you didn’t click on the link – any excuse I suppose to depart. Not much deflection or lying can be done I suppose.

        1. Cian

          What are you blabbering about?
          What is your point?
          Re-read the words you wrote above, and ask yourself if they make sense?

          WHAT is of interest in the Dutch figures? WHICH figures are you talking about? Link the figures you want me to be interested in. Tell me and I can look at them (or not).

          “Or the same type of charge chart for Ireland?”
          Nope. still meaningless. Yes, there is a link. And this opens a page with five different charts. WHICH chart? WHAT about the chart is of interest? The bars go vertically. They are nice bars. Some charts have lines. They are nice lines. Do you like the pretty colours on the lines?

          1. Mr .T

            Deliberately obtuse?

            There’s only 2 graphs in the post – one of which is the infections & deaths from Holland. They show a big upshot in cases but no major increase in deaths.

            There’s even a big red circle around it so you dont miss it.

          2. Cian

            Oops. My bad. I didn’t realise that the original post had been updated with additional
            “Meanwhile…” bits.
            GGs post makes a little more sense with that info.

  3. Eoin

    I’d like to see RTE get defunded like the BBC is about to be. If 9 out of 10 people use RTE as their main source of news then 9 out of 10 people are ill informed in this country. They’ve ignored sizeable protests in Dublin in recent weeks, completely failing to even report that they happened. I thought they might at least try to spin them. But no mention at all. At least they tried to spin the anti Irish Water protests back in the day by lying about numbers but they don’t even report anti lockdown protests. I guess if they did mention them they might end up with more people attending?

      1. Nigel

        Don’t worry, if the BBC don’t bend over backwards to make the Tories look good – admittedly an impossible task – they’ll still get defunded in a great blazing celebration of press freedom.

  4. Charger Salmons

    Well done Bodger & Co.
    Covering all sides of the story that our MSM is lamentably failing to do.
    RTE has consistently let this country down since financial crisis.
    The Russia Today of Ireland.

  5. Truth in the News

    RTE spoofing about fake news, in fact they don’t report the news at all be it fake
    true, how come they are unable to include on their website a comment section, it’s
    because they unable to stand up to public critism or contary views, their is
    deep-seated in the outfit is that they are infallable, then there is the claim that
    they are Public Service Broadcaster, how come their news bulletins are
    saturated with ads….as to 9 out 10 people tuning in believing them…this
    Fake News:

  6. dylad

    Doctors know how to treat it now, to keep you off ventilators, but it is still a nasty infection and causes long term problems.

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