Earlier, Olivia Nuzzi tweeted out a selectively edited statement from the White House. It was both deceptive in how she barbered it and the way she screen grabbed it, she made it look like it was an official White House release when it was actually the opening remarks from a press briefing by Jeff Zients and the rest of the COVID advisory team. In this case disinformation and agitprop wasn’t laundered through the news media. Rather, it was created by a reporter so she could stoke outrage in exchange for clicks.
And here’s the actual statement, which was actually just the opening remarks of a press briefing from Jeff Zients (emphasis mine on what Nuzzi deliberately chose to leave out):
11:06 A.M. EST
MR. ZIENTS: Good morning. And thanks for joining us.
Today, Dr. Walensky will give an overview of the state of the pandemic and on new practices that will help keep schools open, and Dr. Fauci will provide an update on the latest science and the importance of boosters.
But before we start, I want to talk about how we should think about this moment.
As we’ve explained in prior briefings, the Omicron variant is more transmissible and our medical experts anticipate it will lead to a rise in cases.
But unlike last winter, we now have the power to protect ourselves.
Our vaccines work against Omicron, especially for people who get booster shots when they are eligible. If you are vaccinated, you could test positive. But if you do get COVID, your case will likely be asymptomatic or mild.
We are intent on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated. You’ve done the right thing, and we will get through this.
For the unvaccinated, you’re looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm.
So, our message to every American is clear: There is action you can take to protect yourself and your family. Wear a mask in public indoor settings. Get vaccinated, get your kids vaccinated, and get a booster shot when you’re eligible.
We are prepared to confront this new challenge. We have plenty of vaccines and booster shots available at convenient locations and for no cost. There is clear guidance on masking to help slow the spread. And we have emergency medical teams to respond to surges as necessary.
So, this is not a moment to panic because we know how to protect people and we have the tools to do it. But we need the American people to do their part to protect themselves, their children, and their communities.
The more people get vaccinated, the less severe this Omicron outbreak will be. One hundred sixty thousand unvaccinated people have already needlessly lost their lives just since June, and this number will continue to go up until the unvaccinated take action.
So, I’ll say it once more: Get vaccinated.
With that, I’ll turn it over to Dr. Walensky.
What this statement is not, despite Nuzzi’s efforts, is a big Biden Fuck You to the unvaccinated. Rather, it is a tough, but accurate statement to the unvaccinated followed by information about what the unvaccinated can do to get themselves vaccinated and protected combined with a call to Americans to get their civic virtue in gear and do the right thing for themselves and their fellow Americans.
I have no idea why Nuzzi decided she needed to stir the shit this morning and frankly I don’t care. But that’s what she decided to do rather than accurately report that once again the Biden administration’s COVID team dispensed some tough love followed by effective and easily achievable suggestions to Americans who are unvaccinated as the Omicron variant drives a winter surge of COVID-19.
The only thing she got right in her tweet was the link to the actual transcript of the briefing. Which, of course, the people she was looking to agitate would never bother to click on and check the statement for themselves.
Update at 11:50 AM EST
Publishing insiders say that Nuzzi and Politico’s Lizza have struggled to come up with the kind of scoops or access that make political blockbusters jump off the shelves — especially with the public appetite for Washington drama on the wane.
We’re told that while the pair are plenty well-sourced on the Trump side of the saga, senior figures on the Biden team “don’t trust” Nuzzi in particular, and the couple have struggled to tease out prime information because of it.
Hell hath no fury…
PS: Before anyone else bitches about typos, I have recently converted my MacBook workstation set up to standing. My back feels so much better, thanks for asking! But, after two weeks with the new setup, this necessitated getting a bluetooth keyboard that is positioned well below shoulder level, as trying to type at that level was causing shoulder issues. The keyboard arrived yesterday. I’m still getting used to it. So while I already know I can’t spell, but I appreciate everyone letting me know just in case I was unaware, until I get a handle on the new keyboard layout, there will likely be more typos than usual.
PPS: I saw Chetan’s excellent question in the comments of my post last night and I will try to answer it in a post tonight.