There's a war on reality at the White House, and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is the battlefield general. Every morning he huddles up with princeling Jared Kushner and White House comms director Alyssa Farah to map out their coronavirus strategy. This is not about combating the disease, which is why Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci are not invited. No, the White House Brain Trust is meeting to devise ways to revive Trump's electoral prospects by spinning 1,000 COVID deaths a day as a marvelous victory over Chinese aggression. Priorities, people!

This requires Americans to disregard the fact that the rest of the world is returning to normal life, even as we're facing massive unemployment, community spread coast-to-coast, and uncertainty about schools reopening. Which is perhaps why this Meadows-Jared joint is going exactly as well as every other shit sandwich the White House presents to America on a silver platter while shouting "bon appétit!"


The Washington Post had a long piece this weekend on Meadows's PR approach to the worst public health crisis in a century. Apparently Meadows, who has an AA degree, has decided he understands the science better than those annoying dorks at the NIH and FDA.

"My comments to all of our doctors is [sic] that they need to stick with the science, comment on the science and do not become media commentators and opine on what may or may not happen," he told the Post. "I've been consistent from the very first day I was here. I want us to question every assumption that we make and rely only on the facts that are before us. When we are communicating to the American people, we need to make sure that any comments that we make are backed up by good modeling, good analysis and are free from commentary."

And we all know that Mark Meadows, whose salary is paid by America's tax dollars, hates commentary!

In practice, what Meadows means is that no one in the federal government is allowed to make policy recommendations that contradict Trump's preposterously rosy projections. Dr. Birx can tell Tennessee health officials behind closed doors that they risk becoming the next Florida if they don't mandate masks and shut down bars, but in public she's only allowed to mumble generalities about MASKS GOOD or she'll get a bollicking from Meadows about "staying on message" and not making policy.

"She comes across as very knowledgeable, but not pushy." said Columbus, Ohio, public health commissioner Mysheika W. Roberts, expressing her gratitude that Birx suggested they could just close bars down early if they didn't want to shutter them altogether. Because no one likes a pushy woman telling you how to stop your citizens from dying, amirite?

Inside the White House, Trump has finally succeeded in building that wall. Multiple sources described a "Potemkin village" atmosphere where no bad news is allowed to penetrate. Well done, Mexico! Hence that disastrous Axios interview where Trump insisted "you're not allowed" to use metrics that make him look bad and argued that 1,000 deaths a day were a sign of a well-managed outbreak. "It is what it is."

And in the absence of real data, while the Trump administration places all its chips on a bet that actually the doctors are wrong and this thing will magically disappear, the charlatans have rushed in. The My Pillow Guy, who is also not a scientist, has sicced some biopharma dipshit on the White House with the next big Hydroxybonercream miracle drug.

The president recently hosted Andrew Whitney, a biopharmaceuticals executive on the board of a company called Phoenix, who met in the Oval Office with Trump. Whitney, who has a limited health background, pitched Trump on a botanical extract called oleandrin as a treatment for the coronavirus, according to two senior administration officials with knowledge of the discussion.

Hooray! No longer will Americans have to travel to the pet store to poison themselves with aquarium cleaner — now they can just head out to the garden. Except that wouldn't enrich any of the president's pals, so don't do that! Whitney has apparently been pressuring FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn directly, so look for several million doses of this highly toxic folk remedy to be added to the strategic national stockpile immediately.

The Trump administration is making a two-part bet: Either all the experts are wrong and this pandemic thing will just disappear on its own, or they can make more political hay out of letting 'er rip and blaming China and Democratic governors for the ensuing mass death. They're not going to cure COVID; instead they'll cure public perception of it with a good, old-fashioned PR blitz.

"He has a better story to tell than he has told so far," said Trump's BFF Lindsey Graham. Come and get your shit sandwich, America, it's delicious!

[WaPo]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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