The Trump fantasy projection machine: $250 million HHS COVID pep talk as planned propaganda

A presidency whose essence is publicity and public relations, because the most important thing before declaring the pandemic over, was to “defeat despair and inspire hope”. The most important thing to Trump is to divert attention from what you aren’t doing, and defeating despair is like a war on terror.

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A top Trump administration official inserted “partisan political interests” into a $250 million advertising contract awarded just weeks before the election to “defeat despair and inspire hope” amid the coronavirus pandemic — going so far as to exclude celebrities seen as critical of President Trump or his policies, according to documents obtained by Democratic House lawmakers.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, three high-ranking Democrats wrote that documents showed that HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo sought to use a taxpayer-funded campaign to boost the president only weeks ahead of his reelection bid. During a September meeting, for instance, he proposed that one of the themes be “Helping the President will Help the Country,” according to one document they obtained from a contractor.

The documents show that Trump political appointees and the contractors they hired also vetted celebrities for the public health campaign based on whether they had ever criticized the president, or supported former president Barack Obama, gay rights or same-sex marriage. Of at least 274 celebrities under consideration, only 10 appear to have been approved, according to a document the lawmakers obtained.

Among those who did not make the cut were actress Jennifer Lopez, because she had criticized the president’s immigration policies at her Super Bowl performance; director Judd Apatow, because he “believes Trump does not have the intellectual capacity to run as President”; and singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, described as “not a Trump Supporter” and “destroying our country and everything we care about,” according to a document that outlines issues with numerous celebrities under consideration for the campaign.
None of the celebrity PSAs went live, and the campaign is under review at HHS. Politico first reported about the $250 million contract and the ad campaign.

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The HHS campaign is not the only such administration effort to become overtly partisan. Earlier this week, Trump’s Interior Secretary David Bernhardt shared a video that flashed stunning images of birds, mountains and plains over text hailing President Trump for “preserving the awesome majesty of God’s great creation.” A former Interior Department appointee called the clip propaganda.

www.washingtonpost.com/…

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— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) October 29, 2020

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— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) October 29, 2020

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— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) October 29, 2020

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— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) October 29, 2020

Because publicity can divert attention from a kleptocratic state helping another kleptocratic state.

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— Jordan Weissmann (@JHWeissmann) October 29, 2020

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— Eric Lipton (@EricLiptonNYT) October 29, 2020

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— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) October 29, 2020

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— SafetyPin-Daily (@SafetyPinDaily) October 29, 2020

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