90 Miles From Tyranny : Media, Democrats Ran With False Claim Trump ‘Disbanded’ Pandemic Office

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Media, Democrats Ran With False Claim Trump ‘Disbanded’ Pandemic Office

The official who once ran the White House pandemic program dismissed a false Democratic talking point that Trump eliminated the pandemic-response team and criticized reporters for parroting the claim in news stories.

"No, the White House didn’t ‘dissolve’ its pandemic response office. I was there," wrote former National Security Council adviser Tim Morrison for the Washington Post on Monday.

"It has been alleged by multiple officials of the Obama administration, including in The Post, that the president and his then-national security adviser, John Bolton, ‘dissolved the office' at the White House in charge of pandemic preparedness," Morrison wrote. "Because I led the very directorate assigned that mission, the counterproliferation and biodefense office, for a year and then handed it off to another official who still holds the post, I know the charge is specious."

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said in a March 1 interview that Trump "eliminated that office." Journalists soon began taking up the former vice president's talking point as fact. The Boston Globe picked up the narrative, running a piece titled, "Trump attacks CDC over coronavirus preparedness, though he eliminated an office dedicated to pandemic prevention." The accusation was a particular favorite of the Washington Post, which furthered the narrative by running an op-ed from former Obama NSC staffer Beth Cameron headlined, "I ran the White House pandemic office. Trump closed it." Not including Cameron and Morrison's op-eds, the Post mentioned the accusation in five other op-eds or pieces.

As part of an effort to slim down the historically bloated National Security Council, the directorate of global health and biodefense was merged with two other positions—not eliminated—according to Morrison.

"If anything, the combined directorate was stronger because...

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