2014 Archives

SMU experts sought by media covering the Ebola virus outbreak

October 24, 2014

SMU faculty expertise on issues related to the law, fear and reputation has been sought by the news media as coverage of Ebola cases in the U.S. continues. The coverage includes:

Fake Ebola Treatments and Other Legal Issues

On Oct. 23, KERA science reporter Lauren Silverman talked to SMU Law Professor Nathan Cortez about companies falsely advertising cures for Ebola, everything from snake venom to herbs. The FDA's public warnings to such companies amount to "public shaming," said Cortez. Read about or listen to the interview audio icon

On Oct. 14, KERA public radio's Think talked about the intersection of health care and the law with Professor Cortez; Laura Reilly O’Hara of Strasburger & Price, LLP; and KERA health and Silverman. Listen to the discussion audio icon.

Political Fallout

On Oct. 16, SMU Political Science Professors Cal Jillson and Matthew Wilson talked to KERA reporter Shelley Kofler after the political fallout from the Ebola outbreak:

SMU political science professor Matthew Wilson says Ebola has sucked the oxygen out of the room for other stories, including politics.

“Which means if somebody’s trying to drive a particular political story right now it’s really hard to get people’s attention off Ebola," Wilson said. "Which tends to kind of freeze the races where they were before this story broke."

Wilson’s SMU colleague, Professor Cal Jillson, says that’s bad news for Democrat Wendy Davis, who may have been gaining on Abbott when the Ebola crisis began.

“This might have squashed that because the people’s attention is gone and Greg Abbott has $30 million to close out the last weeks," Jillson said. "She had $5.7 million a couple of weeks ago so she doesn’t have the cash to close out the race."

Jillson says candidates will have to get their messages out through expensive broadcast commercials if news media aren’t providing free exposure.    

Jillson says that if the public continues to focus on Ebola, fair-weather voters might stay away from the polls and the Nov. 4 election could produce a historic low turnout.

Read the full story or listen to the interview audio icon 

Worrying is not a Waste of Time

On Oct. 6, KERA public radio talked with Professor Alicia Meuret, director of SMU’s Anxiety and Depression Research Center, about our fear of Ebola as part of a discussion on Think.

Meuret said that worrying about Ebola is not a waste of time: "And that is true when you take measures that really make your life safer – for example, washing your hands. . . But worrying about the catastrophic outcomes that may occur won’t change the odds."

Read the full story and listen to her comments

The Fate of the Nurse's Pet

On Oct. 13, SMU Law Professor Yolanda Eisenstein talked with Bloomberg News about the fate of the pet of one of Dallas's Ebola patients. 

“It’s just because of the ‘Ebola’ word that seems to have everyone panicked,” said Yolanda Eisenstein, an animal-protection lawyer and adjunct professor at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas. “But if the dog is not going to transfer the virus to people, I don’t see the reason to euthanize the dog except to feed people’s paranoia.”

Read the full story.

Ebola, Faith and the Church

The Rev. Maria Dixon Hall, an associate professor of organizational communication and non-profit studies at SMU, wrote in Patheos that "What is really frightening is how Ebola has exposed the underbelly of the fine, upstanding people of my city. If this disease had reared its head in almost any other American city, I would have expected this Code Red hysterical freakout. But in Dallas, where the level of educational attainment exceeds the national average for composition of college graduates and post-graduates, I frankly thought we were smart enough to get the facts FIRST and freak out second." Read the full essay.

The Long-Term Effects of the Ebola Cases on Dallas and Presbyterian Hospital

SMU Business Professor Mike Davis talked with CBS 11 News about the long-term effects of the Ebola outbreak on the reputation of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Answering a question from a CBS 11 News reporter, SMU Communication Studies Professor Rita Kirk talked about whether the Ebola cases experienced in Dallas would have a long-term effect on the city’s reputation, saying “We have pretty short memories, actually, of things that have happened once the situation is contained and controlled.”

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