Johnathan Ellis form the Argus Leader was on a tear yesterday on twitter, but saved the “money tweet” for the end where he declared his political allegiance, at the same time he verbally attacked one of the Governor’s senior staff members:
What triggered all of this? On Friday, Ellis filed a story where he went on the attack on Governor Kristi Noem’s administration because he claimed he wasn’t receiving some information he was seeking:
What’s in a model?
Turns out South Dakota health officials are reluctant to share that information.
The people behind the state’s coronavirus response model, which Gov. Kristi Noem unveiled one week ago, have failed to release data used to make their assumptions. Meanwhile, health officials from the state’s three large health Systems – Avera, Sanford and Monument Health – won’t elaborate on how they contributed to the process.
That story kicked off an exchange that got a little testy when the Governor’s communications person Maggie Siedel sent a note back to Ellis, pushing back a bit because it’s not as if the Governor and Department of Health are ignoring questions in their near daily pressers.
In the E-mail communication provided to me, Seidel pointedly asked Ellis “if you weren’t satisfied with the answers you were getting, why didn’t you take advantage of the dozen media availabilities at your disposal (both the Governor and Secretary of Health as well as the Department of Health held daily briefings last week…)?
Jonathan – This is the headline (What’s behind South Dakota’s coronavirus model? Health officials won’t say.) and story that epitomize what the Governor is referring to when she talks about not telling both sides of the story…
The issue isn’t that we haven’t shared what is behind the projections; it’s that you aren’t satisfied with the answers we’ve provided. Those are two very different things, and the overly simplified headline and story are misleading at best.
In last Friday’s 68-minute press conference, the Governor, Secretary of Health, Dr. Clayton, and the chief medical officers of Avera, Monument, and Sanford, walked everyone through the agreed upon hospitalization projections as well as all the different models we used to inform those projections and what data served as the inputs.
If that wasn’t sufficient, why didn’t we dive into the details then? Every person on that panel was available to answer questions.
You looped me in on Monday about your request for more detailed information. We traded emails, and then on Tuesday, we spoke and talked through your questions.
On that call, I reiterated what Dr. Clayton had already said about many of the data inputs:
- 2018 mid-year Census estimate for SD: 882,235
- 5% hospitalization rate
- 26% of hospitalized patients require ventilatory support
- Length of stay: 7 days for hospitalized and 10 days for ventilatory care
I then shared the mathematical formula we used with you, and you asked for even more information following that – none of which is enumerated in this story.
I know you were trying to write before your furlough, but if you weren’t satisfied with the answers you were getting, why didn’t you take advantage of the dozen media availabilities at your disposal (both the Governor and Secretary of Health as well as the Department of Health held daily briefings last week…)?
I don’t think it’s fair to accuse the state of not being transparent when we’ve made all of the officials associated with these projections, including Dr. Clayton and the chief medical officials at Avera, Monument, and Sanford, available for direct questions in an open forum on a dozen occasions since publicizing them.
Btw – I know you’re out/furloughed, so I’ve included Cory on here as well.
Literally, she asked him if he wanted to know, why didn’t he ask? The reply as attributed to Ellis?
I had to go for a nice long run before I could deal with your bullshit. Also, this was really good for my pace. Send me more crap like this and I’ll be ready to run some races.
Questioning Jonathan as to why didn’t he ask was “bullshit?” To which Seidel offered a fairly reasonable request if he didn’t care for the response. Publish it, and let the people decide.
Publish my response. Put them side by side. Let the people read them.
Ellis’ unnecessary name calling didn’t escape notice from others as well, including former Rapid City Journal and current SDPB contributor Kevin Woster:
In the past I’ve found Johnathan to be pretty decent, albeit his rant about weed explains a lot about his story biases. Ultimately, the Argus is here to sell papers. As I’ve heard, on-line stories earn the right to go to their ever-dwindling print edition based on how many clicks they receive. So, controversy is the name of the game.
But, I find it hard to find fault with “health officials from the state’s three large health Systems – Avera, Sanford and Monument Health” and it may not exactly be fair when Ellis goes on the attack saying they “won’t elaborate on how they contributed to the process,” if Jonathan might not have been asking the question.
At the least, I don’t know that it should rise to the level of name calling and verbally beating up the Governor’s senior communications staffer.
If you take a step back, the times we are in are historically unprecedented. Literally, there is no roadmap in this country for dealing with this type of situation. And you hate to say it, but as we’re all sadly aware, not all of us are going to make it through to the other side.
The Administration’s job is exceedingly difficult. They’re trying to manage the public’s health, as balanced against our constitutional rights, and at the same time keep a functioning society. Because people are not going to be served well by emerging from a pandemic if we’re in the middle of “America’s second great depression,” because a majority of the country’s businesses collapsed, we’re left with widespread unemployment and we’re left bartering for crops in the Midwest while we hear stories of people eating dogs in our urban environments.
We should be concerned about everything we see every day. And we should be wary. But, we can also afford a little patience, and try to set aside our cynicism for a moment, and attempt to believe our leaders are touched by the better angels of our nature, as they try to bring us through to the other side of all of this as intact as possible.
In other words, try to be a little more patient with one another. And maybe a little less name calling.