This will surprise precisely nobody. Trump appointed officials at the Department of Health and Human Services are trying to undermine the work of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention by demanding to review and revise its reports on coronavirus, so that they comport with Donald Trump’s agenda. Trump appointed Michael Caputo in April as the spokesperson for HHS and since that time he’s made “substantial efforts” to align the reports of the CDC with Trump’s statements, “including the president’s claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or [trying to] stop the reports altogether.” Politico:
Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC’s findings, including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior, according to the individuals familiar with the situation and emails reviewed by POLITICO.
Caputo’s team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports, including delaying a report that addressed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The report, which was held for about a month after Caputo’s team raised questions about its authors’ political leanings, was finally published last week. It said that “the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks.”
This is Trump v. Science, Trump v. Experts, and he’s got a willing cabal of appointees to go in and do his dirty work and sabotage existing systems of research and information gathering to get a result that he wants — the truth be damned. That’s the awful danger here. And worse, they make no bones about their agenda. In pure Looking Glass fashion, there is a belief that the CDC is in business to buttress Trump’s propaganda, not that Trump’s job is to accurately report the findings of the CDC and guide the nation effectively through the pandemic.
In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump’s optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation. […]
“CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration,” appointee Paul Alexander wrote, calling on Redfield to modify two already published reports that Alexander claimed wrongly inflated the risks of coronavirus to children and undermined Trump’s push to reopen schools. “CDC tried to report as if once kids get together, there will be spread and this will impact school re-opening . . . Very misleading by CDC and shame on them. Their aim is clear.”
Alexander also called on Redfield to halt all future MMWR reports until the agency modified its years-old publication process so he could personally review the entire report prior to publication, rather than a brief synopsis. Alexander, an assistant professor of health research at McMaster University near Toronto whom Caputo recruited this spring to be his scientific adviser, added that CDC needed to allow him to make line edits — and demanded an “immediate stop” to the reports in the meantime.
“The reports must be read by someone outside of CDC like myself, and we cannot allow the reporting to go on as it has been, for it is outrageous. Its lunacy,” Alexander told Redfield and other officials. “Nothing to go out unless I read and agree with the findings how they CDC, wrote it and I tweak it to ensure it is fair and balanced and ‘complete.'”
This is one of those moments when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. An associate of a Trump-appointed hack wants to editorialize on the work of the CDC so as to make sure that it’s not too damaging to the imbecile in chief, who regards the pandemic as a public relations snafu? Seriously? And are you ready for this? Caputo finds this necessary to avert a “Deep State” plot.
Caputo also said that HHS was appropriately reviewing the CDC’s reports. “Our intention is to make sure that evidence, science-based data drives policy through this pandemic—not ulterior deep state motives in the bowels of CDC,” he said. […]
Caputo defended his team’s interventions as necessary to the coronavirus response. “Buried in this good [CDC] work are sometimes stories which seem to purposefully mislead and undermine the President’s Covid response with what some scientists label as poor scholarship — and others call politics disguised in science,” Caputo told POLITICO.
The simple reality here is that Trump will do anything to stay in office and right now he feels undermined by Anthony Fauci, Robert Redfield, and the lot of them. Fauci has spoken of the risk of the coronavirus to children, in direct contravention of Trump rhapsodizing that children can’t get the virus, due to “their beautiful immune systems.” A recent study from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association reported over 513,000 American children have caught the virus, including 70,630 between Aug. 20 and Sept. 3, so that shot the hell out of that talking point. Redfield has reportedly “pushed back” on the report modifications, as well.
It’s like everything else since Trump came into our lives, do an end run around the professional for personal and political gain.