One If By Contact, Two If By Inhalation

NOTE:  The following is a reprint of a "Letter to the Editor" sent to our local newspaper.  Some of the content is copied from the February 28 post titled, "CULTure in America."

In what can only be called a textbook example of shooting the messenger, News-Leader columnist Howard Pines joined fellow columnist Steve Nicklas in disparaging Dr. Nancy Messonnier, CDC-based director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.  Dr. Messonnier was removed as CDC’s coronavirus response chief after suggesting at a February 25 White House briefing the disease represented “a severe illness” which had the potential of significantly disrupting Americans’ daily lives.

On February 28, Nicklas wrote in the News-Leader:

Most health officials will not exaggerate the potential impacts of a malady, but in contrast, Dr. Nancy Messonnier’s performance sounded like an exaggeration on steroids.  She is head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and is FBI agent Rod Rosenstein’s sister.

FACTUAL NOTE:  Rosenstein was not an FBI agent, but deputy attorney general under Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr.  If you are going to peddle conspiracy theories, the least you can do is keep your supposed “deep state” actors straight.

In his April 29 column, Pines attacks Messonnier claiming Dr. Messonnier “jumped the gun and issued a blunt warning—without the president’s consent.”  Please keep in mind, Dr. Messonnier, by virtue of her position either helped prepare the President’s Daily Briefs (PDB) or, at a minimum, had access to the information contained in them.  And as we now know, the PDBs, beginning in January warned Donald Trump the virus would likely spread to the United States and represented a national security threat.  Yet, on the day before Dr. Messonnier’s statement, Trump tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”  Two days later, Trump patted himself on the back, saying, “When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty job we’ve done.”

So, you have two people with access to the same information.  One rightfully warns the public of the potential devastation, recommends preparedness and is taken off the field.  The other continued to deny the inevitable, and according to Pines, Trump was so angry Messonnier had...

…scared people unnecessarily.  He then canceled the meeting (of the coronavirus task force) and replaced it with a news conference where he announced that the White House response would be put under the command of Vice President Mike Pence (instead of HHS Secretary Alex Azar who had also tried to get Trump to focus on the pandemic in early January) and stalled any move to take more assertive action.”

It is a good thing Pines and Nicklas were not around in 1776.  Pines would have accused Paul Revere of “jumping the gun,” warning Boston residents of the British invasion before receiving permission to do so.  And Nicklas might had questioned Revere’s loyalty to the colonies because he once served as an altar boy in the Church of England.  And we might be singing “God Save the Queen” instead of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

For what it's worth.