Opinion

US surgeon general pushes back against media attempts to discredit Trump on coronavirus

Fri Mar 27, 2020 - 4:33 pm EST
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Dr. Jerome Adams, surgeon general of the United States. Sean Kief, APG Public Affairs

March 27, 2020 (NewsBusters) — Appearing on Friday’s CBS This Morning, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams lectured the media on hyping “worst-case scenario” projections about the coronavirus pandemic that have so far proven to be “way off.” His comments came after co-host Gayle King took jabs at President Trump for making a similar point in a recent interview, despite having “no medical training.”

“You know, doctors and nurses around the country are saying, ‘Hello, government, we need ventilators, we need ventilators now.’ But President Trump seems to have a different take on that,” King fretted as she teed up a clip of the President talking to Fox News host Sean Hannity Thursday night.

[Editor’s note: Video at this link.]

In the soundbite, Trump argued: “But I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be. I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.”

Despite top medical expert Dr. Deborah Birx making that exact same point during Thursday’s Coronavirus Task Force press briefing, King bemoaned the President’s remarks: “Dr. Adams, the President, to our knowledge, has no medical training, yet he continues to question the advice from the medical experts and professionals. Is that frustrating to you?”

The Surgeon General joined his colleague Dr. Birx in scolding the media for constantly seizing on the most dire scenarios, even as the facts on the ground tell a very different story:

Well, you mentioned ventilators, and Dr. Birx said this, when you look at some of the projections out there, they’re based on worst-case scenarios and doing something. I heard a reporter yelling at Peter Navarro yesterday, “Where is a million ventilators?” A million ventilators for the United States would mean one in 300 people in this country were on a ventilator at once. There is nowhere in the world where we’ve seen that type of spread of coronavirus, not even close. And so, some of these projections are way off.

The hostile interview Dr. Adams alluded to with White House advisor Peter Navarro took place on CNN Thursday afternoon. After promoting wild projections about the number of ventilators needed across the country, anchor Brianna Keilar cut off Navarro and declared that talking to him was a “waste of time” because he fact-checked her claims.

On CBS Friday morning, despite having just decried listening to a politician with “no medical training,” King insisted that the Democratic Governor of New York must “know what he’s talking about”:

But we heard New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ask for ventilators. He gave very specific numbers. Do you think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to this issue? When he’s in constant contact with New York — the top New York hospitals, by the way, that are in trouble.

Again, the Surgeon General, who does have a medical degree, pushed back with facts:

I think that if you talk to experts, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and others, the models in many cases are way off. New York City, we actually have people on the ground who have told us that there are 1,000 ventilators sitting in a warehouse right now that haven’t been used. You heard Governor Cuomo yesterday say, “Look, we actually have resources, they’re just mismatched.”

Obviously everyone wants to prepared as possible, ideally over-prepared, for a major crisis like this. However, it is irresponsible for the media to scare people into thinking they will not be able to receive essential medical treatment when the evidence clearly shows otherwise.

Here is a transcript of the March 27 exchange between King and Dr. Adams:

7:12 AM ET

(...)

GAYLE KING: Dr. Adams, let’s talk about ventilators for just a second. You know, doctors and nurses around the country are saying, “Hello, government, we need ventilators, we need ventilators now.” But President Trump seems to have a different take on that. I want you to hear what he said last night and get your response to that.

DONALD TRUMP: But I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be. I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go in major hospitals, sometimes they’ll have two ventilators. So now all of a sudden they’re saying, “Can we order 30,000 ventilators?”

KING: Dr. Adams, the President, to our knowledge, has no medical training, yet he continues to question the advice from the medical experts and professionals. Is that frustrating to you?

DR. JEROME ADAMS [U.S. SURGEON GENERAL]: Well, you mentioned ventilators, and Dr. Birx said this, when you look at some of the projections out there, they’re based on worst-case scenarios and doing something. I heard a reporter yelling at Peter Navarro yesterday, “Where is a million ventilators?” A million ventilators for the United States would mean one in 300 people in this country were on a ventilator at once. There is nowhere in the world where we’ve seen that type of spread of coronavirus, not even close. And so, some of these projections are way off. But we are leaning into supply. I was on a meeting with the American Society of Anesthesiologists last week and they’ve identified 70,000 ventilators that are in communities right now that can be converted.

KING: But we heard New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ask for ventilators. He gave very specific numbers. Do you think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to this issue? When he’s in constant contact with New York – the top New York hospitals, by the way, that are in trouble.

DR. ADAMS: Well, I think that if you – I think that’s a fair question, and I think that if you talk to experts, Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx and others, the models in many cases are way off. New York City, we actually have people on the ground who have told us that there are 1,000 ventilators sitting in a warehouse right now that haven’t been used. You heard Governor Cuomo yesterday say, “Look, we actually have resources, they’re just mismatched.” And so, we sent a team, a FEMA team to help New York City make sure the resources are getting to where they need. I talked to people in western New York who said they’re furloughing nurses in hospitals in western New York State while people in New York City are suffering. We need to make sure we get the right resources to the right people. And that’s what we’re committed to doing.

(...)

Published with permission from NewsBusters.


  coronavirus, deborah birx, donald trump, jerome adams, mainstream media, media bias, surgeon general, ventilator

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