The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis has issued a statement and a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky naming 11 former Trump officials over what they say are “more than 88 incidents of political interference” by the administration in the public pandemic response.
The committee, chaired by Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, announced the expansion of their probe into the pandemic response in a Monday morning release.
“Today, Chairman James E. Clyburn and all Democratic Members of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis advanced their investigations into the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic by requesting documents and transcribed interviews from three former Trump Administration political appointees and eight current and former public health officials who were involved in the prior Administration’s failed response efforts,” the statement reads.
The committee cites the number of incidences of political interference they say were identified by staff analysis, which documented “at least 88 incidents of the Trump Administration’s political interference in the coronavirus response,” a number which includes 27 the committee identified in December of last year.
In the letter to Secretary Becerra and Dr. Walensky, the Democrats expand on that point.
To date, the Select Subcommittee has identified at least 88 instances in which Trump Administration officials injected politics into public health decisions—including attempting to alter, delay, or block the release of scientific reports and guidance on the coronavirus, pressuring public health experts to adopt politically motivated talking points that downplayed the threat of the virus and conflicted with science, and seeking to retaliate against public health officials who provided truthful information to the public. These incidents degraded every major facet of the prior Administration’s public health response and severely hindered the country’s ability to respond effectively to the pandemic.
The committee’s statement also references an email, released today (PDF), “containing additional evidence that high-ranking Trump Administration appointees, including former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, may have instructed career CDC staff to conceal evidence of political interference.”
The statement lists the names of each of the individuals with whom the committee is seeking interviews, and includes links to the individual letters constituting those requests.
Those names are:
• Amanda Campbell, former Deputy Chief of Staff, CDC
• Kyle McGowan, former Chief of Staff, CDC
• Nina Witkofsky, former Acting Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor, CDC
• Dr. Nancy Messonnier, former Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC
• Dr. Anne Schuchat, former Principal Deputy Director, CDC
• Jay Butler, Deputy Director of Infectious Diseases, CDC
• Christine Casey, Editor, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC
• Kate Galatas, Deputy Director for Communications, CDC
• Bill Hall, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, HHS
• Michael Iademarco, Director of Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services, CDC
• Mark Weber, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, HHS
Fox News has condemned an incident during which a man confronted Tucker Carlson at a Montana fly-fishing store over the weekend and told the prime-time host he was the “worst human being known to man.””Ambushing Tu…
Ufot, who’s the CEO of the Stacey Abrams-founded New Georgia Project, said their organization is trying to lay the groundwork to overcome the Republican attack on voting rights in the state, but “if there isn’t a way for us to repeat what happened in November 2020, we’re fucked,” she said. “We are doing what we do to make sure that not only our constituents, our base, the people, the communities that we organize with, get it. We’re trying to make sure that our elected officials get it as well,” Ufot added.
In other words, yes, we’re organizing on the ground, but hey, elected officials, how about you do your part too?
Activists across the country are desperately trying to disabuse White House officials of the notion that inaction is a reasonable course of action to combat the raft of GOP-led voter suppression laws already passed in some 18 states.
In Georgia, one of the most onerous changes to state voting laws is the voter identification requirement for mail-in ballots that could prove prohibitive for nearly 300,000 voters who lack such identification. In addition, the GOP’s severe reduction in the availability of drop boxes could jam hundreds of thousands more voters in the Atlanta suburbs who used those boxes to cast ballots in 2020, along with voters in other parts of the state. Taken together, those two changes alone threaten to impact hundreds of thousands of voters in a state where then-candidate Joe Biden eked out a win by roughly 12,000 votes.
The Georgia State Democratic Party is rushing to reactivate its 2018 midterm network in order to train county chairs, Democratic activists, and voters in all 159 state counties on the new voter ID laws, according to Politico. The party has also hired three new outreach directors for Black, Latino, and Asian American communities.
Democratic activists in the Peach State will get somewhat of a trial run for their new organizing efforts later this fall during the Atlanta mayoral election. While the political contours of Atlanta-based Fulton County are somewhat distinct from other areas of the state, it’s also the most populous county and critical to Democratic fortunes.
But Democratic organizers in states across the nation face similar hurdles, and organizers continue to be baffled by the lax response from Democrats in Washington.
“I’m super worried,” said Max Wood, founder and CEO of progressive data analytics firm Deck. “I do think there are times when this kind of stuff can galvanize enthusiasm and turnout,” Wood added, “but I don’t know that that will be enough, especially with how extreme some of these laws are.”
And for all the pitfalls the Biden administration has avoided repeating from the Obama administration, failing to properly elevate 2018 and spearhead a coordinated midterm campaign could potentially prove catastrophic for Democratic fortunes nationwide, not to mention President Biden’s agenda.
“I don’t think the Democratic Party as a whole is prioritizing this issue and its potential damage in the way that they should,” said Doug Herman, a lead mail strategist for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. “We just went through an insurrection that was stoked by voter fraud lies, and the reaction to that from the Republican Party is to restrict the voting process so severely that only their voters can participate. And I don’t understand the lack of fierce resistance to that from Americans and Democrats.”
Pro-life Americans, which I define as people who want to defeat the pandemic, should welcome support from all quarters – including the darkest precincts of the Fox propaganda machine.
Hence it was nice this week to hear Sean Hannity utter these sentences:
“Please take COVID seriously. I can’t say it enough. Enough people have died. We don’t need any more death…Research like crazy, talk to your doctor, your doctors, medical professionals you trust based on your unique medical history, your current medical condition, and you and your doctor make a very important decision for your own safety. Take it seriously. It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccination.”
It shouldn’t be news when a guy with a national audience declares that the Earth is round, but, hey, we’ve always set the Fox bar pretty low. And Hannity wasn’t alone. One of the Fox News morning hosts, Steve Doocy, made the same plea: “Look, the pandemic right now is really just with people who have not been vaccinated. Ninety-nine percent of the people who died have not been vaccinated…If you have the chance, get the shot, it will save your life.”
So what do we think is going on here? Are there internal corporate qualms about lying non-stop to the network’s gullible couch potatoes? Has there been some kind of calculation that Fox has killed off too many Americans, that perhaps it’s bad form to root for the pandemic’s delta variant by pumping nihilistic BS into the empty heads of red-state fans?
It’s theoretically possible that Fox has been stung by some of the criticism it’s getting lately. A former Fox executive, Preston Padden, said earlier this month that the infauxtainment outlet is “poison for America,” that its relentless ridicule of public health measures “has contributed substantially and directly to the unnecessary deaths of many Americans.”
A recent national poll says that 45 percent of Republicans who regularly watch Fox are hesitant or unwilling to get vaccinated; what’s truly repugnant is that the various hosts who attack the vaccines (and especially the Biden administration’s efforts to popularize the vaccines) are in fact vaccinated – and that Fox, to protect its returning staffers, is creating a vaccine passport.
So has Fox made a corporate decision to change its ways? Is it feeling the heat?
Let’s not get too excited. Most likely, Hannity and Doocy (and another anchor, Bill Hemmer) are merely trying to help Fox cover its rear.
Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham continue to fulminate against mass vaccinations – Carlson says the prospect of health workers going door to door is “the greatest scandal in my lifetime, by far. Another talking head, Brian Kilmeade, said the government has no business trying to safeguard the public’s health (“It’s not their job to protect anybody”), an ignorant remark that’s contradicted by the U.S. Constitution, which establishes a government to “promote the general welfare.”
So when Hannity and a few others make nice with reality, the Fox spokespeople can claim that the network really covers “both sides” of the debate (even though one side is bogus).
Besides, Hannity and Carlson are hotly competitive for program ratings. Hannity’s foursquare endorsement of vaccines looks like a shot across Carlson’s bow, who appeared to retaliate when he grumbled about people who offer “medical advice on television.” In all likelihood, this is not even a policy disagreement – it’s probably just a peeing contest.
So it’s a pipe dream to believe that Hannity’s vaccine announcement signals a Fox U-turn, or any kind of mea culpa about killing off so many Americans (indeed, its own viewers). But with the pandemic raging anew most glaringly in the low-vaccinated states (what I call the Dumbbelt), any help from any quarter is welcome.
If retweeting Hannity can save even one life, go for it.
Copyright 2021 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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