Less medical info, more optimism

The political hacks Trump hired have been forcing the CDC to water down its reports to make Trump look less like a mass murderer.

The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.

By “health department” they mean HHS.

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.

That’s like the PR people for the fire department telling the fire trucks to slow down because all this rushing about with sirens going will undermine the mayor’s optimistic messages about the house fires.

Optimistic messages are all very well (unless they’re just lies, as Trump’s generally are), but they’re not the goal of HHS or the fire department. Use the right tools for the job. When there’s a catastrophe happening the goal is to mitigate or halt it, rather than cheering people up about it at the expense of mitigating or halting it.

The people at the CDC have tried to resist but they’ve given way a few times. That is not good news.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports are authored by career scientists and serve as the main vehicle for the agency to inform doctors, researchers and the general public about how Covid-19 is spreading and who is at risk. Such reports have historically been published with little fanfare and no political interference, said several longtime health department officials, and have been viewed as a cornerstone of the nation’s public health work for decades.

But now the hoodlums in the employ of the biggest hoodlum are messing with that. Never mind the public health, it’s all about perpetuating Donald Trump’s reign of destruction.

[S]ince Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department’s new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump’s statements, including the president’s claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.

Nothing must be allowed to remain independent of the political needs of the criminal Donald Trump. The survival of 331 million people is worth nothing compared to the continued dictatorship of the criminal Trump.

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.”

So the CDC was prevented from saying that for a month. One wonders how many people took hydroxychloroquine as a result.

In one clash, an aide to Caputo berated CDC scientists for attempting to use the reports to “hurt the President” in an Aug. 8 email sent to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other officials that was widely circulated inside the department and obtained by POLITICO.

“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.”

Well, yes, their aim is clear: to control disease. Trump’s aim is to boost Trump. We the people are more interested in avoiding COVID than making Trump dictator for life.

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