The New York Times overlooked months of failures by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s newest director to publish a fawning puff piece about her career.
The NYT article headlined, “The C.D.C.’s New Leader Follows the Science. Is That Enough?” describes Director Rochelle Walensky as “a fierce advocate and an empathetic scientist” dedicated to “following the science.”
The author uses every opportunity to take jabs at the Trump administration while propping up Walensky as a “leader who put science above politics” and boosted morale in the agency. The article even cites Dr. Anthony Fauci as giving the director his vote of confidence even though his own reputation is largely tainted.
“Give her a little time,” he said. “By the end of one year, everybody’s going to be raving about her. I guarantee it.”
The author’s commitment to propping up Walensky is not hidden, but her inability to mention any of the severely flawed and even scandalous decisions the new director took part in is quite masked.
Walensky has a long list of anti-scientific sins to her name but none of them are mentioned in the article. Last year, she wrote a letter explaining that “if people are masked it is quite safe [to reopen schools] and much more practical to be at 3 feet.” It wasn’t until after she joined the Biden administration that she claimed, “schools should require physical distancing of at least six feet.”
In addition to flip-flopping on physical distancing in schools, Walensky publicly admitted that her agency’s school reopening guidelines issued in February were informed by the opinions of anti-in-person-learning teachers unions, many of which increased their political donations to Democrats since schools shut down.
“I recognize that the decision, on when and how to begin in-person learning is one that must be based on a thorough review of what the science tells us works and an understanding of the lived experiences, challenges, and perspectives of teachers and school staff, parents, and students,” Walensky said in a COVID-19 update on Friday.
“We have conducted an in-depth review of the available science and evidence base to guide our recommendations, and we have also engaged with many education and public-health partners to hear firsthand from parents and teachers directly about their experiences and concerns,” she said.
Walensky has also given her fair share of mixed messaging. The NYT author praises the director for kicking off her new career by announcing that vaccinated people could remove their face coverings but does not mention how Walensky was reduced to tears at the end of March, claiming the US was facing “impending doom” and begging for people to stay in a state of fear.
It isn’t until the 29th paragraph when the author concedes that Waslensky’s few months heading the CDC hasn’t been perfect.
“The day of her urgent plea, she appeared on MSNBC’s ‘The Rachel Maddow Show,’ where she said vaccinated people ‘do not carry the virus’ — an overly optimistic statement that the C.D.C. had to walk back. Later that week, new guidance from the agency said that vaccinated people could safely travel, but Dr. Walensky added that the agency did not actually want them to travel at all, a stance that left some Americans perplexed,” the article states.
Even then, the article concludes by elevating Walensky for “when she spoke emphatically about measures to increase diversity and inclusion in the agency’s work and in its ranks” and when “she reinstated diversity training, and has promoted two Black scientists into management positions.”