The news is just breaking that illegally acting director Chad Wolf ordered intelligence findings to be altered to minimize the threat posed by white supremacists, and play up a threat from nonexistent leftist groups, but it’s not the only such story on Wednesday. Because while Wolf is trying to prevent intelligence officials from telling Americans about the real threats to the nation, an equally threatening effort at deception is going on at Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
As Politico reports, emails from the office of the HHS assistant secretary for public affairs show how the agency has been providing pushback against Dr. Anthony Fauci concerning statements that he planned to make in public appearances. While it might be expected that Fauci is being nudged to provide answers that are more friendly to administration positions, the emails show that Fauci is being pushed to make statements completely counter to known science concerning COVID-19. They not only call on Fauci to support some of Trump’s least defensible positions—like touting convalescent plasma as a miracle cure and insisting that schools must physically reopen—but include attempts to censor Fauci from providing critical information necessary to public safety.
The source for most of these emails is senior advisor Paul Alexander. Working from a preview of what Fauci intended to say, Alexander seemed intent on preventing the public from getting any useful information. “I continue to have an issue with kids getting tested and repeatedly and even university students in a widespread manner,” wrote Alexander, “and I disagree with Dr. Fauci on this. Vehemently.”
That email blasted down a statement that Fauci had intended to give in a Bloomberg interview. Alexander followed up by instructing Fauci, through his PR team, not to follow through on a statement suggesting that students wear masks in an interview with MSNBC. “Can you ensure Dr. Fauci indicates masks are for the teachers in schools. Not for children,” wrote Alexander.
Alexander followed this up with an amazing claim: “There is no data,” he said, “none, zero, across the entire world, that shows children especially young children, spread this virus to other children, or to adults or to their teachers. None. And if it did occur, the risk is essentially zero.” That statement was made this Tuesday. It is completely counter to any number of studies conducted over a period of months showing that middle school and high school students transmit COVID-19 at least as well as adults, that the viral load in children is often higher than in adults, and that children may be responsible for a large number of cases specifically because they are often asymptomatic.
If Alexander was just some flack in the PR department who didn’t know any better, a guy who got his science off of Breitbart and Fox News, this might be understandable. But Paul Alexander is not just some guy at HHS. He is supposedly a doctor himself, a specialist who is supposed to advise the department on pandemic policy. So why is Dr. Alexander ordering Dr. Fauci to change his statements in ways that he has to know are not true?
Testing of students is vital to any possible safe reopening of schools. Masks are absolutely essential for both teachers and students in reducing the transmission of disease. Children not only can transmit COVID-19 to others, they do so at least as well, and possibly better, than adults. Those aren’t just statements, they’re the results of studies in both the United States and South Korea.
Alexander’s efforts to alter Fauci’s statements are not just wrong, they are perverse; reflecting either unimaginable ignorance or deliberate malfeasance. So why is this being not just tolerated, but defended?
Because Alexander reports to assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo. Caputo—who previously worked with Oliver North in the Reagan White House—was actually kicked out of Donald Trump’s campaign in the squeeze between Paul Manafort and Corey Lewandoski. But from there, Caputo waged his own campaign to get back into Trump’s good graces. That included unending media appearances where he talked about how the Russia investigation was a “silent coup” and attacked other Republicans as being insufficiently loyal to Trump. And he showed Trump that he knows how to talk to women.
Michael Caputo, who just started at the department in April, called several women on Twitter “dogface” and made crude insinuations and sexist comments aimed at former FBI attorney Lisa Page prior to joining HHS.
Reminder: This is the guy in charge of public relations at the HHS.
Now Caputo and Alexander are not only trying to censor Fauci, they’re trying to get him to issue statements completely counter to the best science. It’s unclear to what extent their intrusions have kept the American people from getting the best information. It’s absolutely clear that they don’t care.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.