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Mike Pence Will Edit All CDC Coronavirus Messages For Mentions Of Science, Truth, Boobies

coronavirus

In a move that no one could have seen coming, one of the White House's first jobs for Mike Pence after making him Donald Trump's coronavirus czar was to tell the federal bureaucracy that "all statements and public appearances" concerning about the epidemic will have to be cleared through Pence first. The New York Times reports the administration wants y'all to understand this is not an attempt to subordinate scientists to the administration's political agenda, heavens no, why would anyone think that?

Officials insist the goal is not to control the content of what subject-matter experts and other officials are saying, but to make sure their efforts are being coordinated, after days of confusion with various administration officials showing up on television.

Yes, we're sure this has more to do with Larry Kudlow declaring the virus was all bottled up (Mmmm, bottles!) than with silencing that terrible Deep State Scientist lady all of wingnuttia is mad at for trying to make Trump look bad. If there's one thing this administration worries about, it's having a consistent message at all times, not people saying inconveniently true things.


The Times dutifully reports the official line that this is all about having clear lines of communication during this very important situation, yes that's definitely it.

The announcements from the White House were intended to show that Mr. Trump and those around him are taking the potential threat to the health of Americans seriously. Aides said the president wanted governors and members of Congress to have a single point-person to communicate with, eliminating any jockeying for power in a decentralized situation.

And if that happens to mean we won't be hearing from any CDC doctors warning it's "inevitable" the virus will spread and cause serious disruptions to Americans' everyday lives, well then that's a happy coincidence. Trump was visibly annoyed at his press conference Wednesday night, saying he didn't think it was inevitable and insisting the "very few" cases in the US will soon be "zero" really soon.

Mind you, Pence didn't exactly eliminate the possibility of multiple competing voices when he announced today that Dr. Deborah L. Birx, who's already running Trump's very special project to eliminate HIV/AIDS, will now serve as the White House's "Coronavirus Response Coordinator." Way to delegate, Mike. We should also point out maybe Pence wasn't supposed to delegate his job away, though, since as the Times notes,

The decision to put Mr. Pence in charge was made on Wednesday after the president told some people that the vice president didn't "have anything else to do," according to people familiar with the president's comments.

So now he'll have even more nothing to do. He'll be taking care of business, and working overtime.

The Times suggests Birx was selected to put an "experienced scientist and physician" in charge of managing the federal response, but also pointed out a bit of a complication, namely that there are now three people "in charge" of coordinating the coronavirus response. WHOOPS.

Mr. Trump said that "Mike is going to be in charge, and Mike will report back to me." Mr. Pence said it will be Dr. Birx. Meanwhile, Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, remains the chairman of the government's coronavirus task force.

Funny thing: People noticed, even if they misspelled Dr. Birx's name:

And finally, a bit of confusion that doesn't appear to have anything to do with the White House, for a change. In a fairly epic example of the "telephone" game gone wrong, The Times's Maggie Haberman either passed on (very likely) or created (who knows?) an unfortunate mis-hearing, from a pool report of a briefing by Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease:

No, no. That would be a "civet cat," which is indeed an animal eaten in China, but which is neither a cat not especially civic. (Update: In a reply to a reply, Haberman notes that a correction to "civet" was sent out, so no, it wasn't her error.)

So there's one more bit of misinformation for the internet to play with, THE END.

[NYT / Maggie Haberman on Twitter]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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