The White House is now insisting that all scientific and government-health related communication about the cdc be routed through the Trump administration before going public. And that person in charge of this communication funnel? Vice President Mike Pence, who as a governor previously took his sweet-ass time doing anything to address a major HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana.
From The New York Times:
The White House moved on Thursday to tighten control of coronavirus messaging by government health officials and scientists, directing them to coordinate all statements and public appearance with the office of Vice President Mike Pence, according to several officials familiar with the new approach.
Officials insist the goal is not to control the content of what subject-matter experts and other officials are saying, but to make sure their efforts are being coordinated, after days of confusion with various administration officials showing up on television. And they say they are not focused on specific news releases rather with a streamlined effort around television appearances.
The instinct to try and control epidemic news isn't necessarily bad if it's in good faith. People can panic and make bad decisions when they're scared, which can also make it easier for predatory conmen to exploit that fear for profit. Scared and panicked people could potentially overwhelm medical services out of paranoia, preventing people who are actually infected with the condition from getting the help they need. Hell, I can even understand why my own doctor lied to me about swine flu. ("You have a viral infection," he told me, after 5 straight days of vomit, diarrhea, and fever. Yeah no shit.)
Unfortunately, there's little reason to take this disaster response in good faith. And considering what happened to the late Doctor Li Wenliang, who literally died because the Chinese government was trying to control the flow of information relating to coronavirus—there's very good reason to be skeptical about the potential problems of Pence's pandemic information filter.
Pence Will Control All Coronavirus Messaging From Health Officials [Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman / New York Times]
Pence's New Coronavirus Role Raises Questions About His Public Health Record [Miles Park / NPR]
Image: Gage Skidmore (CC 2.0)