Recall that for the remainder of the year, the White House was urging normalcy while many states kept locking down. It was an incredible confusion. The CDC was all over the map. I gained the distinct impression of two separate regimes in charge: Trump’s vs. the administrative state he could not control. Trump would say one thing on the campaign trail but the regulations and disease panic kept pouring out of his own agencies.
Birx admits that she was a major part of the reason, due to her sneaky alternation of weekly reports to the states.
After the heavily edited documents were returned to me, I’d reinsert what they had objected to, but place it in those different locations. I’d also reorder and restructure the bullet points so the most salient—the points the administration objected to most—no longer fell at the start of the bullet points. I shared these strategies with the three members of the data team also writing these reports. Our Saturday and Sunday report-writing routine soon became: write, submit, revise, hide, resubmit.
Fortunately, this strategic sleight-of-hand worked. That they never seemed to catch this subterfuge left me to conclude that, either they read the finished reports too quickly or they neglected to do the word search that would have revealed the language to which they objected. In slipping these changes past the gatekeepers and continuing to inform the governors of the need for the big-three mitigations—masks, sentinel testing, and limits on indoor social gatherings—I felt confident I was giving the states permission to escalate public health mitigation with the fall and winter coming.
As another example, once Scott Atlas came to the rescue in August to introduce some good sense into this wacky world, he worked with others to dial back the CDC’s fanatical attachment to universal and constant testing. Atlas knew that “track, trace, and isolate” was both a fantasy and a massive invasion of people’s liberties that would yield no positive public-health outcome. He put together a new recommendation that was only for those who were sick to test – just as one might expect in normal life.
After a week-long media frenzy, the regulations flipped in the other direction.
Birx reveals that it was her doing:
This wasn’t the only bit of subterfuge I had to engage in. Immediately after the Atlas-influenced revised CDC testing guidance went up in late August, I contacted Bob Redfield…. Less than a week later, Bob [Redfield] and I had finished our rewrite of the guidance and surreptitiously posted it. We had restored the emphasis on testing to detect areas where silent spread was occurring. It was a risky move, and we hoped everyone in the White House would be too busy campaigning to realize what Bob and I had done. We weren’t being transparent with the powers that be in the White House…
Read the whole thing.