President Donald Trump and his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been ruthlessly criticized and mocked by many Democrats and liberal media figures, often via undeniably “fake news” that grossly misleads about what has and hasn’t been done to combat the infectious disease.
Typically, those fake news attacks involve taking the president’s remarks out of context or acting as if proposed budget cuts that never materialized caused actual damage.
But there is one fake news narrative that has caught hold with the left and been repeated ad nauseam — that Trump completely shut down a special directorate within the National Security Council dedicated to guarding against pandemics.
That narrative received a substantial boost last week when The Washington Post published an Op-Ed from a former administration official — an Obama-era holdover named Beth Cameron — who titled her piece “I ran the White House pandemic office. Trump closed it.”
Her lengthy and highly critical article explained how former President Barack Obama had, in the wake of the Ebola virus outbreak, picked her in 2016 to head up the newly created Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense within the NSC.
Cameron went on to describe what the directorate was supposed to do in the event of a pandemic and public health crisis in terms of raising the alarm and helping to coordinate a response on the federal, state, and local levels.
She went on to claim that then-National Security Adviser John Bolton had disbanded her unit completely in May of 2018 and strongly implied that such an action had left the federal government completely unprepared for the arrival of the new coronavirus pandemic.
Needless to say, this narrative was dutifully picked up and run with by the anti-Trump left.
But, according to another Op-Ed written to counter Cameron’s claims, it simply isn’t true. The piece, surprisingly published by The Post as well, is by Tim Morrison, formerly the senior director of counterproliferation and biodefense at the NSC under President Trump.
Morrison titled his piece “No, the White House didn’t ‘dissolve’ its pandemic response office. I was there.”
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.”
The former administration official attributed the “tendentious accusations” that Trump had disbanded the pandemic office to the fact that it was an election year and politics rules everything. Morrison suggested that being in the middle of a “worldwide health emergency” was neither the time nor place for such partisan hackery.
He also acknowledged that, yes, President Trump had made cuts to the admittedly bloated NSC, but those cuts, rather than completely do away with certain aspects, were simply focused on streamlining the organization to make it more effective and efficient.
As it turns out, the counterproliferation and biodefense directorate that he led was actually the consolidation of three separate directorates that had similar and, at times, overlapping areas of responsibility — namely, arms control and proliferation, weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, and global health and biodefense.
“It is this reorganization that critics have misconstrued or intentionally misrepresented,” Morrison wrote. “If anything, the combined directorate was stronger because related expertise could be commingled.”
He further noted that in spite of even further reductions in the size of the NSC since he left the administration, the staff dedicated to biodefense had been left untouched. He pointed out that President Trump had actually taken steps during his tenure to shore up and strengthen the nation’s defenses against biological threats like a global pandemic.
As to why any of this matters, Morrison wrote, “It matters because when people play politics in the middle of a crisis, we are all less safe. We are less safe because public servants are distracted when they are dragged into politics.
“We’re less safe because the American people have been recklessly scared into doubting the competence of their government to help keep them safe, secure and healthy.”
Morrison decried the “political gamesmanship” inherent in this and other fake news media attacks on the administration.
He suggested that everyone come together in a united fashion to not only ensure Americans could survive this and future pandemics, but also to hold the communist Chinese regime accountable for its failure, deliberate or otherwise, to warn the rest of the world during the initial spread of the new virus.
“There are real threats emanating from this pandemic. We need to focus on getting our response right and save the finger-pointing for what comes after. This is the United States — we will get through this. And for the love of God, wash your hands,” he concluded.
As Morrison’s Op-Ed claims, the media has been gleefully perpetuating an absolute lie about Trump disbanding a pandemic response group in the NSC.
It is grossly misleading narratives like this one that have earned the media their “fake news” label and the distrust of most Americans — and deservedly so.
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