Fox News' Hume on Swine Flu Hysteria: 'This is Insane!'

The swine flu story has captured the news cycle for three days and counting now and that’s perpetuating the hysteria, according to Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume.


Hume appeared on the FNC’s “The Live Desk with Trace Gallagher” April 27 and blasted the media in general for hyping the swine flu story 24/7.


“I realize it’s been a slow weekend in terms of news,” Hume said. “The president went out and played golf on Sunday. The White House reporters don’t have much to work with today, so they’re trying to get a piece of this swine flu story, which you know, all the cable news channels are agog about, bug-eyed about. But so far, it doesn’t amount to much in the United States of America.”


Hume expressed his anxiety over the protectionist reaction from other countries over the hysteria surrounding the outbreak, most notably Russia’s ban of U.S. agricultural exports.


Russia canceled beef and pork imports from the United States of America, notwithstanding the fact that you can’t get this disease from eating beef or pork either,” Hume said. “Besides that, nobody has implicated beef in this. This isn’t cow flu, it’s pig flu. And, you can’t get it from eating pork. I mean this is insane!”


Hume explained the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) briefing had summed the actual implications of the outbreak, which were minimal.


“The definitive briefing on this issue was given today, earlier by the Center for Disease Control,” Hume said. “And what we know about that now is we’ve had, what several dozen cases of this ailment breaking out, only a fraction of which required hospitalization.”


However, the declaration by the Department of Health and Human Services of a “public health emergency” was an issue of semantics meant to free up public funds, but has spurred a massive public reaction, Hume explained.


“So, while a public health emergency, which is an important term of art, has been declared – that is for the purpose of releasing funds for various preventive actions that could be taken,” Hume said. “Is there a public health emergency like the rest of us laypeople, not government law writers, would consider that term? Absolutely not.”


So far, the reach of the swine flu outbreak is small in comparison to seasonal flu the Fox News commentator explained.


“Consider this – tens of thousands of people, Trace, die every year from ordinary seasonal flu,” Hume said. “Here we have a case of a few dozen – only a couple of which require hospitalization and no deaths. What this is, is much ado about – I’m afraid to say this – not very much.”


The economic impact of the Russia ban on U.S. beef and pork products are uncertain, but the outbreak could really hurt the Mexican economy – already plagued with a drop in tourism over drug violence and now a health scare, in a time of a global economic slowdown.


“I question how long these bans on imports will last and how important economically they will be,” Hume said. “I do have some sympathy for the country of Mexico, which has a struggling economy, a Titanic population and a kind of slowdown in tourism, which is being recommended by the State Department at this time and I suppose it’s a necessary precautionary action to cover their hindquarters over there in case some people get sick. But that’s going to be very damaging to the Mexican economy in the near-term and an economy already reeling like so many others around the world. Nothing much is helped by the kind of handwringing though that we see 24/7 in some quarters.”