The editorial page can get contentious at times, and that’s a good thing. We want to be the marketplace of ideas and a place where great debates can happen.

At times, though, some of the columns and letters slide into personal attacks on people’s credibility or their backgrounds. We’d rather not see that. Last Saturday, for example, The Bulletin published a guest column that challenged the credentials of another writer, Rich Belzer, regarding research he’s done on coronavirus rates.

On one hand these types of remarks can be viewed as fair game. Remember, if letter writers put themselves in the public eye by publishing their opinions for all to read, they also can be held accountable for what they say and open to criticism, just like any public official or even a newspaper editor.

Claiming someone is cherry picking information, or has an agenda or political slant by what they wrote, is fair game. Yet, alleging that a writer doesn’t have the credentials or hasn’t done the research, is not always kosher.

The Bulletin carefully fact-checks all guest columns and Mr. Belzer has always included references to his sources when he submits his columns.

We appreciate all of our writers and online commentators. We want to keep the flow of information coming from all sectors as long as it is accurate and not a personal attack. Thanks for following those guidelines.

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(2) comments


I looked up Mr. Belzer’s bona fides and I would estimate he should have a better grasp than he appears to display when supporting his foregone conclusions with “cherry picked” data. I look up data recreationally and know that there is much better data out there than he used and I have listened to interviews of around 6 covid researchers. None of this proves anything, but does form the basis for my current perspective: Governor Brown’s mandates more likely led to excessive deaths stemming from the mandates than lives were saved by the mandates. As of this moment, I am unaware of any research showing mandatory measures reduced covid transmission more than voluntary measures.

The CDC has published data, “Provisional Life Expectancy Estimates for January through June, 2020,” showing that the average life expectancy of all Americans, especially blacks, has taken a nose dive in the first half of 2020 in excess of what can be explained by covid related deaths. In other words, the “cure” might be worse than the disease. Mr. Belzer’s clear politicization to make Governor Brown look good, when in fact she deserves severe criticism based on the current research is particularly disappointing given my expectation of his educational level and experience, which is ironic on two levels.

Look at page 3, figure 2 of “Life expectancy at birth, by Hispanic origin and race: United States 2019 and 2020. This is just from the first half of 2020, before covid really started having an impact later in the year.

Here is the CDC link:

Perhaps the criticism by Bill Rich will sit a little better if one realizes how manipulative Mr. Belzer's column is. Shouldn't we be more concerned about not causing excessive death than making political points?


The CDC data is not specific to Oregon, and they mention the geographic disparities of the COVID-related data during the first half of the year in the report. COVID first showed up in Seattle and had likely spread throughout the region first before reaching other parts of the country, making Oregon one of the first states to experience rapid growth in the disease.

Also, drug overdoses increased over the same period and may potentially account for the excess death rate outside of COVID-related deaths. Worthy of its own discussion, but not relevant to Belzer's piece.

Lastly, I'd love to see data on how COVID-related control measures led to "excess deaths" vs. the alternative of... what exactly? Letting hospital capacity collapse leading to an increase in both non-COVID and COVID-related deaths due to lack of available care?

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