Fake News and the 1918 Flu – level 3
The 1918 flu was the worst pandemic in US history. Propaganda, as well as a law threatening prison for criticizing the US government, encouraged newspapers to censor the flu and it cost lives.
Between 1918 and 1919, an estimated 675,000 Americans died of influenza; however, negative news would hurt morale and damage the war effort. The US president Woodrow Wilson assembled a powerful propaganda machine. Some newspapers only covered the war, and they barely mentioned the pandemic, while others called it ordinary influenza. However, the 1918 Sedition Act meant that if journalists wrote anything disloyal about the US government, they faced 20 years in prison.
From this flu, people could die 12 hours after the first symptoms that were bleeding from the nose and also the mouth, eyes, and ears. More Americans ended up dying from the 1918 flu than in the battles from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined.
Difficult words: propaganda (information or ideas that are deliberately published in order to help a cause or a government), censor (to examine media and to cut out any parts that are regarded unacceptable or threatening), morale (the enthusiasm, confidence, and discipline of a person or group).
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