Media Hoaxes: No, Trump did not “disband” WH pandemic office, cut CDC work from “49 to 10” countries, or refuse WHO “testing kits”
Exercises in Democrat-media hoaxing to create out of nothing a sense of hysteria, outrage, panic, and anger
It’s absolutely stunning to see Democrats and the media (all the usual nods to repeating myself) continue to attack President Trump with a range of outright lies in the midst of a global pandemic.
It’s almost as if they aren’t worried about Wuhan coronavirus at all and instead see it as an opportunity to fulfill their dream of ousting our duly elected president from office. Never let a crisis go to waste being the mantra of the power-hungry left, after all.
I’ve previously covered two media hoaxes: one, involving Democrats and the media incorrectly stating that Trump called the coronavirus a “hoax” and the second involving the inaccurate media speculation—published as “news”—that the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, was “muzzled” by the Trump administration.
I could make a full-time job out of covering every one of the Democrat media hoaxes involving the president, but that not being in the offing, I am focusing on three of the latest and more onerous examples.
No, Trump did not “disband” WH pandemic office
Numerous headlines have harped on the disingenuous “reporting” that Trump “disbanded,” “eliminated,” and “closed” the White House pandemic response office.
ABC News: “Trump disbanded NSC pandemic unit that experts had praised”
MSNBC: It’s not ‘nasty’ to ask why Trump disbanded his global health unit
Boston Globe: “Trump attacks CDC over coronavirus preparedness, though he eliminated office dedicated to pandemic prevention”
WaPo: “I ran the White House pandemic office. Trump closed it.”
The impression intended by these misrepresentations of the actual facts is that Trump is incompetent, careless, and / or unconcerned with public health. None of those things are remotely true. Many of the top experts from that office are still there, they’re just working under the umbrella of the counterproliferation and biodefense office on the National Security Council (NSC).
Tim Morrison, former senior director for counterproliferation and biodefense on the NSC, explains the streamlining of departments and offices that took place to increase efficiency.
It has been alleged by multiple officials of the Obama administration, including in The Post, that the president and his then-national security adviser, John Bolton, “dissolved the office” at the White House in charge of pandemic preparedness. Because I led the very directorate assigned that mission, the counterproliferation and biodefense office, for a year and then handed it off to another official who still holds the post, I know the charge is specious.
. . . . It is true that the Trump administration has seen fit to shrink the NSC staff. But the bloat that occurred under the previous administration clearly needed a correction. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, congressional oversight committees and members of the Obama administration itself all agreed the NSC was too large and too operationally focused (a departure from its traditional role coordinating executive branch activity). As The Post reported in 2015, from the Clinton administration to the Obama administration’s second term, the NSC’s staff “had quadrupled in size, to nearly 400 people.” That is why Trump began streamlining the NSC staff in 2017.
The left, of course, does not think logically. Their solution to everything is more government, bigger government, more dedicated (and overstaffed) offices of this and that, and, naturally, throwing lots of American taxpayers’ money at whatever the perceived problem. More employees and more money is always better, even if the results don’t support that premise.
Just look at the mountains of money thrown at “the war on poverty” to see how this works. Or take a look at the stats regarding black employment, life spans, relative health, and income levels from the start of Democrats’ purported efforts to help black people back in the ’60s. Most of these markers are the same as or worse than they were when they started tossing money and opening useless offices and whole agencies to address the perceived problems. Try to streamline or adopt plans that would actually have a positive affect, and they scream “RAAAACISM!” even though their own policies have done nothing to improve—and have arguably negatively impacted—the lives of black Americans over the past 60 years.
So it’s no wonder that Democrats and the media upon learning that overlapping offices and departments have been streamlined into one cannot comprehend that it has made the U.S.’s pandemic response stronger, not weaker. In fact, Morrison notes, since he left the NSC and staff cuts have continued, the biodefense staff has not been affected.
One such move at the NSC was to create the counterproliferation and biodefense directorate, which was the result of consolidating three directorates into one, given the obvious overlap between arms control and nonproliferation, weapons of mass destruction terrorism, and global health and biodefense. It is this reorganization that critics have misconstrued or intentionally misrepresented. If anything, the combined directorate was stronger because related expertise could be commingled.
The reduction of force in the NSC has continued since I departed the White House. But it has left the biodefense staff unaffected — perhaps a recognition of the importance of that mission to the president, who, after all, in 2018 issued a presidential memorandum to finally create real accountability in the federal government’s expansive biodefense system.
Richard Goldberg, another former NSC official, also pushed back against the media hoax:
Weird. A year later I was inside the NSC working with talented global health/biodefense professionals who coordinated an incredibly effective response to Ebola. They’re still there. Working hard. On #Covid_19. https://t.co/XSoBtXtAC5
— Richard Goldberg (@rich_goldberg) March 13, 2020
So the White House pandemic office still exists, its top researchers and best professionals in their fields are still there. They just now work within the counterproliferation and biodefense office. The horror.
No, Trump did not cut CDC work from “49 to 10 countries”
Democrats and the media have also falsely claimed that Trump slashed the CDC’s global pandemic work. They “reported” that the CDC was forced to cut its global efforts from 49 to 10 countries.
While this move appears to have been proposed at one point in 2018, it never happened. In fact, the CDC was instead provided more funding that year for its global pandemic efforts.
Rather alarmingly, the false claim is also made at the .gov Senate Democrats official website.
And it’s probably, right now, most dangerous and most egregious when it comes to Coronavirus. It wasn’t just that the president cut CDC last year—it follows years of drastic cuts to the global health division at CDC by the Trump Administration. In 2018, CDC was forced to reduce the number of countries it operated in from 49 to 10. That’s how bad it is.
President Obama set up anti-pandemic programs in 47 vulnerable countries, as a way to protect against something just like Coronavirus breaking out across the world.
Experts begged Trump to keep them open.
He closed 37 of them.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 27, 2020
Mother Jones: “Here Are 17 Ways the Trump Administration Bungled Its Coronavirus Response”
Business Insider: “Trump spent the past 2 years slashing the government agencies responsible for handling the coronavirus outbreak”
The New York Times claimed in an article entitled, “White House Asks Congress for Billions to Fight Coronavirus,” that “In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention narrowed its epidemic work to 10 countries from 49, declaring victory on the global health security agenda started by the previous administration.”
To source this lie, they link to another New York Times article that specifically notes in the title that the “White House Hails Success of Disease-Fighting Program, and Plans Deep Cuts.” Plans deep cuts.
Those cuts, however, never materialized, and apparently no one at the former gold standard of newspapers bothered to check. Nor did any of the other “news” outlets reporting this false claim.
As the COVID-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus has spread around the world, a number of politicians, news organizations and public figures have made the false claim that the Trump administration cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s anti-pandemic work in over 40 countries to just 10. The CDC told us that’s not true.
The claim appears to have been based solely on outdated news reports from early 2018 that said the CDC was preparing to dramatically reduce its work helping to prevent infectious-disease epidemics. Those reports said much of that work on the Global Health Security Agenda, a pact between over 60 nations that began in 2014, had been funded by a five-year, nearly $600 million supplemental package that was dwindling. That one-time funding, which Congress originally appropriated in response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, ran out at the end of September 2019.
The director of the CDC’s Center for Global Health did say at the time that, without additional funding, its Division of Global Health Protection “will have to scale its global health security portfolio to focus efforts based on existing resources,” as the Wall Street Journal first reported in January 2018. If that happened, the official said the CDC would shift its focus to just 10 “priority countries” and “plan for the completion of its country-based programs” in 39 other nations, the Journal’s story said.
Those hypothetical cuts were avoided, however, because Congress later provided more funding for the CDC’s global health programs, the CDC told us in a statement.
Not only did the CDC receive greater funding in 2018 but has every year since, and Trump is requesting even more CDC funding for FY2021.
CDC operating budget plans show that its funding for global public health protection — which includes global disease detection and emergency response and global public health capacity — increased from $58 million in fiscal year 2017 to around $108 million in fiscal years 2018 and 2019. (And that does not include any remaining supplemental funds available for use.) The increases included nearly $50 million more each year for CDC’s global health security initiatives.
Those amounts went up again in fiscal year 2020, when the CDC was awarded $183 million for global public health protection, overall, and $125 million specifically for its global health security efforts. For fiscal year 2021, President Donald Trump has requested that CDC funding for global disease detection and other programs be increased further — to $225 million total, with $175 million going directly to global health security.
It’s difficult to know whether this particular hoax was down to sloppy journalism or a malicious desire to say anything, to tell any lie, to harm the president. Maybe it’s both?
No, Trump did not refuse WHO testing kits
Another hot topic hoax Democrats and the media have been pushing is Joe Biden’s claim during Sunday’s Democrat debate that President Trump refused an offer of Wuhan coronavirus test kits by the World Health Organization (WHO).
No, look, the World Health Organization offered — offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them. We did not want to buy them. We did not want to get them from them. We wanted to make sure we had our own. I think he said something like we have the best scientists in America, or something to that effect.
Biden appears to have come to this incorrect conclusion from a Politico piece entitled, “How testing failures allowed coronavirus to sweep the U.S.” The subhead reads, “The Trump administration’s decision to forgo a World Health Organization test and create its own had fateful consequences, experts say.”
The media ran with it. Of course.
It’s not hidden but your administration rejected a test that would’ve helped find out where it was weeks ago for reasons you can’t explain. https://t.co/hMmfS9xJtE
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) March 17, 2020
could've been a lot less hidden with those WHO test kits https://t.co/FtKfSBZj04
— Dave Levitan (@davelevitan) March 17, 2020
The problems here are many. First, WHO doesn’t actually provide materials for testing to first world countries, it focuses its resources on developing nations that need assistance. Second, WHO acts as a clearinghouse of sorts for the various testing models of countries that have developed tests; a country can use whichever of the formulas (or recipes) that it likes. Third, the U.S. has historically always developed its own tests and provided its own materials.
From Politifact (yes, really):
The countries WHO helped are ones that lack the virology lab horsepower that exists across the United States. The outreach work by the Pan American Health Organization is a case in point.
The group is WHO’s arm in the Americas. It conducted trainings and sent materials to conduct tests to 29 nations. The list included Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and many others.
The group said it focused most of its efforts on “countries with the weakest health systems.”
“No discussions occurred between WHO and CDC about WHO providing COVID-19 tests to the United States,” said WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris. “This is consistent with experience since the United States does not ordinarily rely on WHO for reagents or diagnostic tests because of sufficient domestic capacity.”
. . . . WHO lists seven different approaches — including that of China, the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, France and Germany — each one targeting different parts of the COVID-19 genetic profile.
Christopher Mores, a global health professor at George Washington University, said that when faced with an outbreak, the WHO will usually adopt the best test that a research group brings forward.
The German one became the approach WHO circulated as its preferred model.
Aid groups, such as the Pan American Health Organization, took that model and built their training and supplies around it. If the model was like the recipe in a cookbook, the supplies were the ingredients in a home meal kit from Blue Apron.
Any country could use whatever recipe it preferred, and even if the United States had picked the WHO’s protocol, it wouldn’t need the WHO to sell it the materials to follow it. Germany released its protocol on Jan. 17, but the U.S. decided to have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention develop its own. That protocol was published Jan. 28.
The so-called “testing kits” don’t exist in the sense that people seem to think of them. WHO doesn’t send out a physical box with the ingredients needed to conduct the test to first world countries; instead, they act as an “information exchange.”
On March 7, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn made it clear that there were no WHO “testing kits.”
“We’ve seen reports about a WHO test, and that WHO is distributing a diagnostic test to countries. And I want to be really clear about this: We’ve been in constant contact with WHO. The WHO does not have its own test that it is distributing globally. It has only posted on its website protocols from some test developers, including our own CDC,” Hahn said, the Federalist’s Margot Cleveland noted. He clarified that the WHO doesn’t actually develop tests, but it does “act as an information exchange.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar explained that the “test kit” the WHO put out was not its own, but rather the “recipe protocol for a lab-developed test” from the Berlin test. “That’s what’s often been called—misleadingly—the WHO test,” Azar explained. The WHO has also distributed the CDC’s recipe, for what it’s worth.
In other words, that’s just the way it is done, the way it has long been done. Our CDC’s coronavirus test formula has been distributed by WHO since January 28th.
Bashing Trump for “rejecting” WHO “testing kits” is nothing but an exercise in Democrat-media hoaxing to create out of nothing a sense of hysteria, outrage, panic, and anger.DONATE
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