NY Times: Birx Has Squandered Her Credibility By Denying Doomsday, Praising President

March 28th, 2020 3:07 PM

In Saturday’s New York Times, Noah Weiland and Maggie Haberman irresponsibly suggested coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx has hopelessly compromised her integrity for remaining on good terms with her boss, President Trump, in “For Trump Adviser, Urging Calm Has Come With Heavy Criticism.”

The press is annoyed with Birx trying to quell panic and doomsaying about the spread of the virus, as the liberal media defaults to worst-case scenarios.

The White House coronavirus task force has featured two trusted medical voices, diplomatic but authoritative, able to gently push back on President Trump without incurring his wrath: Drs. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Deborah L. Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator.

But this week, Dr. Birx’s comments casting doubt on talk of ventilator and hospital-bed shortages, and praising Mr. Trump’s attention to detail in lavish terms, have raised questions about her independence as the number of coronavirus infections in the United States has soared past 100,000.

Practically overnight, Dr. Birx has become a partisan Rorschach test. Conservative commentators have praised her as a truth-teller, pushing back on coronavirus hysteria. Critics of Mr. Trump accused her of squandering the credibility she had developed as a health official in Democratic and Republican administrations.

Dr. Birx’s comments, especially those dismissing ventilator shortages, startled some health experts....

With Birx insufficiently alarmist, the press pounced.

But on Thursday, that delicate balance appeared to tip. After talking to New York officials, Dr. Birx said she had been told that there were still intensive care beds and “over 1,000 or 2,000” ventilators still available. She also dismissed news stories of hospitals drafting blanket do-not-resuscitate orders for critically ill Covid-19 patients.

The reporters imagined a wedge between Birx and Dr. Fauci.

Just a few feet away stood Dr. Fauci, a longtime friend and mentor of Dr. Birx’s, who had his own message: hunker down. He said that the coronavirus could become cyclical. He cautioned that a vaccine was still many months away....


The realities on the ground appear to favor the tone of Dr. Fauci’s warnings. Dr. Mahshid Abir, an emergency physician at the University of Michigan and an expert on hospital preparedness, said on Friday that shortages are inevitable....


Dr. Birx, who has built a well of bipartisan admiration in her years as a health official, has more recently accommodated herself to the political winds with the kind of presidential flattery that Mr. Trump demands from aides.

After vilifying Trump’s supposedly useless coronavirus briefings, the Times hypocritically lashed out at Birx for providing reliable information to conservative activists (who would then helpfully pass that information on to their followers):

....Dr. Birx’s appeals have extended to some of Mr. Trump’s favorite conservative media personalities. She appeared alongside Mr. Pence in a private White House meeting earlier this month to update figures as divisive and confrontational as Dan Bongino and Eric Bolling.