Mainstream media outlets pushed fake news this week when they portrayed a recent White House hire as President Donald Trump appointing a labradoodle breeder as the head of his coronavirus response task force.
Brian Harrison, a man tapped to help Department of Health and Human Services’s Secretary Alex Azar, did own a family business breeding labradoodles, but more importantly, he served in three administrations in high level positions at HHS, the Pentagon, and the White House.
“This is so silly. He went home and worked in a family business,” a former colleague of Harrison’s, Jack Kalavritinos, told the Dallas Morning News.
Reuters reported Azar tapped Harrison to assist with the day-to-day response to coronavirus and claimed Harrison had “minimal public health experience.” Their headline boldly declared, “Former Labradoodle breeder was tapped to lead U.S. pandemic task force.”
“Azar tapped a trusted aide with minimal public health experience to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19. The aide, Brian Harrison, had joined the department after running a dog-breeding business for six years. Five sources say some officials in the White House derisively called him ‘the dog breeder,'” Reuters reported.
Vanity Fair, Salon, Newsweek, Business Insider and The Daily Mail were among theother news organizations who parroted Reuters faulty reporting, all portraying Harrison as the new leader of Trump’s coronavirus task force.
“Despite everything we know, it would just be too much to learn that, at one point, a dog breeder was running the administration’s coronavirus task force. And yet!” Vanity Fair exclaimed.
Salon went the extra step by photoshopping Harrison’s profile in front of a basket of puppies.
A simple Google search would lead any consumer to believe Trump actually hired a dog breeder to not just work in, but run the national coronavirus response.
In fact, Harrison has never exclusively led the national coronavirus task force. According to the Dallas Morning News, Harrison was assigned a typical role for a cabinet secretary’s chief of staff. Harrison served as an aide de camp on the coronavirus task force initially run by HHS Secretary Azar until Trump swapped Azar for Vice President Mike Pence.
Harrison held positions in the Social Security Administration, worked on payroll tax policy in the George W. Bush administration, served with Azar in the HHS general counsel during the Bush administration, and worked for former Vice President Dick Cheney in both the White House and the Pentagon. Yet, media outlets are portraying Harrison has having no experience in anything other than breeding labradoodles.
Michael Reilly told the Dallas Morning News. Michael Reilly, who previously hired Harrison for a job at HHS under Bush, told the Dallas Morning News, “Brian was a no-brainer pick. His private sector experience is irrelevant… he was a completely known commodity who had extensive experience.”