Congressman Peter King Says Ebola Is Airborne, and Other Incorrect Things


It’s important to calibrate one’s expectations in life.

You don’t go to Burger King for fine cuisine, for example, and you don’t look to New York’s foremost conspiracy theorist, Long Island Congressman Peter King, for nuanced, well-reasoned arguments. Saying things that have no basis in fact is sort of what this guy does. It is the essence of Peter King.

But Peter King has been particularly Peter Kingy in the last few days, helping gin up panic about Ebola and somehow managing to lay New York’s latest act of apparently religiously motivated violence at the feet of the New York Times.

He was off and running with an appearance on Long Island Radio on Sept. 16, when he suggested — with flagrant wrongness — that Ebola is now an airborne virus.

In discussing the now virus-free Dallas nurse Nina Pham, King said that doctors “have been wrong” in suggesting that Ebola was difficult to catch.

You know, my attitude was, it’s important not to create a panic and it’s important not to overreact and the doctors were absolutely certain that this cannot be transmitted and it was not airborne, and yet we find out the people who have contracted it were wearing all protective gear.

Ebola is, of course, pretty hard to catch. And there is zero evidence that the virus has “mutated” and become transmittable by anything other than direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected people.

Despite attacking doctors for saying things that are factually true, King wanted to be clear that there are no hard feelings. They’re doing their best:

Listen, I don’t blame doctors or medical professionals for not being up to date on the latest mutations. They should try to be, and they should work at it. But I think they should be less definite when they make these pronouncements. That there’s absolutely nothing to worry about, that this can’t be transmitted airborne. That there’s nothing to worry about. Because what happens when you see somebody wearing this protective gear coming down and almost dying from the disease, then you think, “Well, how about me? How about if I’m next to them on a plane, how about if I’m next to them in a supermarket, how about if I’m next to them in a dentist’s office, without any protective gear?” Then people start panicking, people start assuming the worst, and that creates the panic that doctors are trying to avoid in the first place.

If we can just take a moment to unpack that: Doctors, in King’s view, are creating panic by explaining the actual method of transmission of a dangerous disease. It’s doctors, by wearing protective gear, who are somehow inducing hysteria about scenarios — like being on a plane or in a dentist’s office — that are exactly how one does not catch Ebola.

If there’s one thing that King can’t stand, it’s all these medical professionals and their fancy book-learnin’. It’s just arrogance, is what it is, to think that seven years of schooling might make you somehow more qualified than King to talk about a medical issue.

“I’m sure there are a lot of doctors listening to the show who are going to
attack me on this…if there’s one mistake doctors make, it’s to think that medicine is an absolute science…doctors are so certain of their theories and they think their theories are facts.”

After spreading some good old-fashioned misinformation about Ebola, King, in an appearance on MSNBC on Friday, turned his attention to an incident in New York City the day before, when a disturbed man — apparently a recent convert to Islam — attacked two NYPD officers with a hatchet, seriously injuring at least one of them.

King didn’t blame the crazy guy with a hatchet for the attack, nor, in a refreshing change of pace for this guy, Islam in general. Naturally, he blamed the media.

People have to be careful of what they say…in New York, when you have a person like this who does feel aggrieved, who does feel isolated, and then he hears people in the media, and I’m talking about the New York Times and others, somehow spread this feeling that the police are an occupying force, that they’re going after Muslims, they’re profiling Muslims. A person like this who is deranged, he sees that, he sees that type of talk, he sees ISIS calling for attacks against police, and he responds.”

Never mind that the NYPD has, ahem, been profiling Muslims in recent years. A wide-ranging program revealed in 2011 had NYPD officers surveilling mosques and entire neighborhoods in a potentially unconstitutional dragnet.

Of course, in perfect King form, the widespread surveillance of Muslims by the NYPD was actually revealed by the Associated Press, not the Times. But these are details, details.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 27, 2014


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