Right now there are two stories, one above the other, on the interview FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn gave CNN this morning:
The first story, by CNN analyst Maeve Reston, focused on Hahn's refusal to correct Bunker Boy:
On Saturday night, President Donald Trump made the dangerously inaccurate claim that 99% of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless.” On Sunday morning, one of his top health experts failed to correct the assertion, a stunning breakdown of the government's core duty to keep Americans safe and protect the public health.
Meanwhile, the second story, by two CNN reporters, highlighted Hahn’s refusal to stand by the Great Orange Shitgibbon:
The commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration on Sunday declined to defend President Donald Trump's unfounded claim that 99% of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless” and repeatedly refused to say whether Trump's remark is true or false.
There is actually no contradiction here. Rather, what it shows is yet more evidence of just how dangerous His Inferior Majesty is to our way of life, to democracy, to fidelity to reality. At the same time, we see how the few remaining adults in his maladministration are trying somehow to warn the public while at the same time not sending the Deranged Orange Mange into such a rage that they will be cut off from public access (like Fauci has been). Can you imagine, in any other administration, a senior figure repeatedly dodging the question of whether the president has his head screwed on tight? Hahn cannot say what he really knows, which is that The Incompetent One is spewing total garbage, so he wink-winks, and by not giving the standard answer, in effect gives the opposite one.
It’s not the greatest profile in courage, true. But the White House is blocking Fauci, Birx, and even Redfield from speaking to the press, as well as any other government expert who actually knows what he’s talking about.
In explaining Fauci’s absence from television, an administration source told CNN that Fauci’s interviews had too much “doom and gloom” to fit the Trump view that everything is fine. And it seems even other public health experts such as Birx and Redfield, who have more often toed the president’s line, have also deferred to reality too many times for the administration’s liking.
That leaves Hahn.
[T]he politically savvy Hahn no doubt understood that his job Sunday was to deal with the president’s claim on Saturday that “99 percent” of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless.” Not surprisingly, Hahn dealt with such a gobsmacking claim by dodging it entirely. When ABC’s Martha Raddatz asked for “any evidence that is an accurate statement,” Hahn immediately pivoted to case numbers. When CNN’s Dana Bash pointed out that the CDC estimates that “only about a third of coronavirus cases are asymptomatic” and the World Health Organization estimates that 20 percent need hospital care or oxygen, Hahn said, “I totally support the CDC and the information that they’re putting out with respect to this pandemic.” And when Bash directly asked whether the president was wrong, Hahn said, “I’m not going to get into who is right and who is wrong.”
That’s the level of messaging we have to resort to in the face of The Worst Liar in the History of the United States. (I’m running out of epiphets; feel free to suggest some new ones.) One has to wonder how much even Hahn will be allowed to speak before his dodging and weaving gets to be too much.