- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2020

It was only a matter of time before Mike Rowe’s millions of fans asked him to apply his long track record of logic and reason to the coronavirus pandemic.

The man behind the mikeroweWORKS Foundation and hit television shows like “Dirty Jobs” and “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” says America’s media may not be doing the population any long-term favors.

He told a fan on his official Facebook page Thursday evening that a constant barrage of “facts and information with extreme urgency but no context” will possibly have dire consequences.

“I just re-watched your Safety Third special on DVD. Genius,” a fan named Greg Marsh wrote. “Couldn’t help but wonder your current take, since you and 7 million of your neighbors in the Bay Area have been ordered to ‘shelter in place.’ What do you think? Is it unreasonable to wonder if this is all a giant overreaction?”

Mr. Rowe first explained that his “Safety Third” phrase came about in 2008 during “Dirty Jobs” filming as a “slightly subversive way for my crew and I to remind each other that our safety was in fact, our responsibility, and that no amount of compliance could ever keep us out of danger.”

The American “everyman” then cautioned Americans against irrationally “ranking Safety above everything else.”

“I’m not an expert, and I’m in no rush to be labeled a ‘virus denier,’ ” he said. “But I am concerned that the medicine we’re prescribing might turn out to be more deadly than the virus we’re trying to kill — especially if we don’t know the criteria by which we can re-emerge from our bunkers.”

“We are being bombarded everyday with facts and information with extreme urgency but no context,” he continued. “Imagine for a moment, if the millions of automobile accidents in America were reported on with the same frenzied, up-to-the-minute drama as each new virus infection? Imagine if all 40,000 annual automotive fatalities from those accidents, were announced in the same fashion as every virus fatality. Would any of us ever drive again?”

Mr. Rowe then warned against offering Americans a binary choice of worst-case scenarios involving mass deaths or another Great Depression when bad decisions could simultaneously produce “both.”

“I don’t say this lightly,” he began his conclusion. “I have two elderly parents solidly in the ‘at risk’ group, and believe me, I want to do all I can to protect them. But I also know that Safety First is no way to live indefinitely. We are at base, a Safety Third nation. We can’t remain in the air raid shelter indefinitely — if we do, they’ll be no country left, when we finally emerge. … Your question is not at all unreasonable. I just wish I had a better answer.”

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