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Oh, nothing. Just Ivanka Trump overruling scientists at the CDC. That's all.

4 min read

Whoever stuck the Tin Man funnel in my head and power-blasted a veritable Niagara of DMT into my brain, please just stop. I get it. Nothing makes sense. And if I see the White Rabbit I’m gonna bite his head off. And I’m a fucking vegan, for fuck’s sake.

So, yeah, according to The New York Times, everything — and I mean everything — at the CDC had at least a patina of politics encrusted on it over the duration of this horrible, horrible year. Maybe that’s why we are where we are, huh?

But here’s the kicker. Oh, yes.

The New York Times:

Often, Mr. [Kyle] McGowan [a former chief of staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and [his deputy] Ms. [Amanda] Campbell mediated between Dr. Redfield and agency scientists when the White House’s guidance requests and dictates would arrive: edits from Mr. Vought and Kellyanne Conway, the former White House adviser, on choirs and communion in faith communities, or suggestions from Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and aide, on schools.

Wait, you’re saying Ivanka overruled career employees in the CDC’s handbag design and marketing division, right? Not on anything having to do with actual scien … Oh, what fresh hell is this?

“Every time that the science clashed with the messaging, messaging won,” Mr. McGowan said.


Oh, there’s a lot more at this here click-nozzle. But here are a few highlights:

“Everyone wants to describe the day that the light switch flipped and the C.D.C. was sidelined. It didn’t happen that way,” Mr. McGowan said. “It was more of like a hand grasping something, and it slowly closes, closes, closes, closes until you realize that, middle of the summer, it has a complete grasp on everything at the C.D.C.”

Hmm, sounds like a great horror movie. In 3-D. Oh, and you’re on set, and it’s not actually a movie after all but palpable, creeping dread that wholly dominates your life. Fun!

The White House insisted on reviewing — and often softening — the C.D.C.’s closely guarded coronavirus guidance documents, the most prominent public expression of its latest research and scientific consensus on the spread of the virus. The documents were vetted not only by the White House’s coronavirus task force but by what felt to the agency’s employees like an endless loop of political appointees across Washington.

Mr. McGowan recalled a White House fixated on the economic implications of public health. He and Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the C.D.C. director, negotiated with Russell T. Vought, the White House budget director, over social distancing guidelines for restaurants, as Mr. Vought argued that specific spacing recommendations would be too onerous for businesses to enforce.

“It is not the C.D.C.’s role to determine the economic viability of a guidance document,” Mr. McGowan said.

And …

Ms. Campbell said that at the pandemic’s outset, she was confident the agency had the best scientists in the world at its disposal, “just like we had in the past.”

“What was so different, though, was the political involvement, not only from H.H.S. but then the White House, ultimately, that in so many ways hampered what our scientists were able to do,” she said.

Top C.D.C. officials devised workarounds. Instead of posting new guidance for schools and election officials in the spring, they published “updates” to previous guidance that skipped formal review from Washington. That prompted officials in Washington to insist on reviewing updates.

So, yeah, it was just as bad as you thought. But at least you know Ivanka was doing something in her position. Not so great that that thing was, you know, aiding and abetting a killer virus. But whatevs. Who among us is perfect?

This guy is a natural. Sometimes I laugh so hard I cry.” — Bette Midler on Aldous J. Pennyfarthing, via Twitter. The first history of the Trump Error is complete! Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump is hot off the presses! Along with Dear Fcking Lunatic: 101 Obscenely Rude Letters to Donald Trump, Dear Prsident A**clown: 101 More Rude Letters to Donald Trump and Dear F*cking Moron: 101 More Letters to Donald Trump, you’ll see the Trump years from a hilarious new perspective. Click those links, yo!

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