In February 2020, Donald Trump took some time away from his busy schedule of watching multiple hours of TV a day and insisting the coronavirus was fake news to have a little chat with journalist Bob Woodward. Naturally, one of the things they discussed was the very scary virus that had gained a foothold in the United States. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said during a February 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” he said, repeating for emphasis, “This is deadly stuff.” Of course, at the time, Trump had been actively telling the country that COVID-19 was not at all a big deal, that it wasn’t as bad as the flu, that it would “miraculously” go away on its own by April, and that anyone suggesting otherwise was a liar and a fraud. Then in March, a week after the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Trump had another conversation with Woodward, in which he admitted something else: that he had been purposely lying to the public about the highly contagious virus the whole time. “I wanted to always play it down,” he said.
Given that the literal leader of the free world is on the record copping to lying about COVID-19—which killed 400,000 on his watch—it’s not entirely surprising to learn that his foot soldiers in the federal government did everything they could to mislead the public as well. But it’s still colossally messed up and something that should follow them around for the rest of their careers, hence this important report from The Washington Post:
In the same email, Alexander excitedly referenced another example of a change to a weekly report from the CDC that he bragged the agency had made thanks to his demands. Two days later, he asked then White House adviser Scott Atlas—the guy who wanted the U.S. to adopt a “herd immunity” strategy by letting millions get the virus on purpose—to help him discredit a forthcoming CDC report on COVID-19-related deaths among young people. “Can you help me craft an op-ed,” Alexander wrote to Atlas on September 11, claiming the report was “timed for the election” to hurt Trump, as though that was the priority of the scientists at the agency. “Let us advise the President and get permission to preempt this please for it will run for the weekend so we need to blunt the edge as it is misleading.”