Circling the News Accused of Yellow Journalism

Robin Williams was a master of improvisation.

In my May 13 musings (“Just the Facts: California Covid-19 Death Breakdown”), I cited the following statistics for California deaths from Covid-19, utilizing the website ( on Monday, May 11:

Ages 0-17, no deaths.

Ages 18-34, there were 26 deaths (although it’s broken down by race, is not broken down by whether there were underlying causes).

Ages 35-49, there had been 130 deaths.

Ages 50-64, there had been 399 deaths.

Ages 65-79, there had been 838 deaths.

Ages 80 + there had been 1,245 deaths.

As of May 8, residents in skilled nursing facilities accounted for 1,020 of the Covid-related deaths.

After I posted my report, I received the following email with Yellow Journalism in the subject line:

“1. You list the # of cv deaths. Do you consider that maybe the preventive measures maybe lowered the #\’s or do you believe its all a democrat/media hoax? Take a stand. 2. Did you read the beach rules? Swimming etc. ok. Do you want the LAPD to dedicate scarce resources to parking etc., you wanted the beach opened…still need to complain? 3. Do some research next time, PH heads are seldom Drs. Her Phd program at Brandeis encompassed Public Health. If you\’re going to be biased, own it or change the name to Circling Fox News.”

L. A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer

In my posting, I mentioned that Dr. Barbara Ferrer, L.A.County Public Health Director, has a bachelor’s degree in community studies from the University of California and master’s degrees in public health from Boston University and in education from the University of Massachusetts. She received her Ph.D. in public welfare from Brandeis University. She is not a medical doctor.

Ferrer was paid $413,865 by taxpayers in 2018, according to Transparent California, plus $77,905 in other pay and another $61,479 in benefits.

When Mayor Eric Garcetti notes that all decisions in the City are being based on science, I think many of us believe it’s medical science. With Ferrer, it is based on social science. I leave it up to readers to come to their own conclusions.

I do think that half a million dollars a year in total renumeration is a lot of money for any job, and that my hairdresser, who can’t work at this time and depends on $100+ for a haircut, is struggling to make ends meet. I think that Ferrer is making decisions on what works in her life, rather than looking out for the millions of people in L.A. whose livelihood depends on working.

I used to work as a standup comic for about 15 years, playing clubs around the country. As I waited for a chance to go on stage at the Comic Strip in New York City on Second Avenue, Robin Williams came in and “took” over the stage. He was a master of improvisation and he let any of us come on stage and “play.”

The key to improv is “Yes, and…” If someone pops up on stage and gives you a prompt, such as “Where did you get that purple bug in your hair?,” your response is, “Oh, is it purple now?” or “It followed me home from school,” or “Oh, I knew I should have opted for a professional hairdresser.” You take the response, acknowledge it and try to give something back to the other person, so the scene can develop.

The one thing you don’t do is say, “I don’t have a purple bug in my hair.” Scene over.

I feel that when we interact with others, whose viewpoints we may not agree with, all dialogue ends when we name call.

I would urge all of us to acknowledge viewpoints we may not agree with and then ask more questions. We do not have to agree with a person, but name calling, much like bad improv, stops all discussion.

John Wesley wrote in 1770, “If you agree with me, well: if not, we can, as Mr. Whitefield used to say, ‘agree to disagree.’”

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4 Responses to Circling the News Accused of Yellow Journalism

  1. Scott Quigley says:

    You were very kind to Barbara Ferrer in your article. Another publication described her education as:
    “ Not only do those degrees sound irrelevant to her current job, but they sound irrelevant to work of any kind.”

    Your article did a great job of disclosing facts that are generally not disclosed by our City and County officials. If these facts make people think and question our “leaders”, you did your job as a journalist. Thank you!

  2. Reeve Chudd says:

    Loved your response, Sue. It’s always easy to yell names instead of thoughtful disagreement. That’s the problem with our divisiveness today: everyone listens to the voices they want to hear and not the voices to which they should listen. Only through attentive dialogue can we develop balanced concepts and truth, i.e. understanding the perceptions of others. Just as watching only Fox or CNN or MSNBC, all of whom have content editors, will never give one the full picture. Thanks again for CTN.

  3. Tony lynn says:

    Im hoping this individual shelters in place until new years of 2021.

  4. sarah says:

    This person has a few screws loose. To attack your facts as support for some sort of right-leaning agenda would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Small minds rarely see the bigger picture…

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