When politics reigns

An extended CBS interview with Dr. Deborah Birx aired January 24th on Face the Nation and on Margaret Brennan’s podcast. Here’s a transcript. I was surprised that there was no full time team in the White House working on the coronavirus. Dr. Birx, Dr. Antholy Fauci, and others were brought in from various agencies. Tyler Ann McGuffee, was the White House staff–a very valuable support person for Dr. Birx.

Dr. Birx was forthcoming about what went wrong. She kept extensive notes because she wanted us to be better prepared for the next pandemic. We needed more air time with Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci, rather than sound bites on newscasts. The CBS interview filled in some blanks. For example, Dr Birx said:

I am convinced there were parallel data streams because I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made. So, I know that someone…was creating a parallel set of data and graphics…. I know what I sent up and I know that what was in his hands was different…. It is very important to me that we all agree on how the data is collected and how we use it…. We don’t cut it in pieces and say we’re only going to look at it in these two weeks because we look better than Europe in these two weeks. You can’t do that. You have to use the entire database. … Certainly Scott Atlas brought in parallel data streams. I don’t know who else was part of it, but … when the … people see what I was writing on a daily basis that was sent up to White House leadership, they will see that … I was highly specific on what I was seeing and what needed to be done.

This story was also covered by several news outlets, including The Hill and The Washington Post.

One reason I write this blog is to keep a running dialogue with my children and any friends who are interested and to provide contemporaneous reflections about lessons learned. One enduring lesson is what happens when politics reigns. Politics colors, and sometimes replaces, truth. One reason we have 423,000 COVID-19 deaths is our government’s response has been shaped too much by politics and too little by science.

“Dr. Deborah Birx: Quiet Female Leadership,” by Eva Lynch, The Tower, Spring, 2020 (Photo from U.S. Department of State)

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