Even as they quoted internal CDC documents backing the renewed mask mandates due to the rise in Delta variant Covid-19 cases, both the New York Times and the Washington Post got a tongue-lashing from the White House.
“Vaccinated people do not transmit the virus at the same rate as unvaccinated people and, if you fail to include that context, you’re doing it wrong,” Ben Wakana, the deputy director of strategic communications for the White House Covid-19 response team, tweeted at the New York Times on Friday – in all-caps. He was seriously unhappy about the paper’s coverage of the new findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
VACCINATED PEOPLE DO NOT TRANSMIT THE VIRUS AT THE SAME RATE AS UNVACCINATED PEOPLE AND IF YOU FAIL TO INCLUDE THAT CONTEXT YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. https://t.co/gBkDbJ21xX— Ben Wakana (@benwakana46) July 30, 2021
Wakana also had stern words for the Washington Post, which first published the CDC documents, calling its coverage “completely irresponsible” and countering it with CDC statements from three days prior.
Completely irresponsible. 3 days ago the CDC made clear that vaccinated individuals represent a VERY SMALL amount of transmission occurring around the country.Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated.Unreal to not put that in context. https://t.co/BbmSNvQlrb— Ben Wakana (@benwakana46) July 30, 2021
The Twitter meltdown caught the attention of journalist Glenn Greenwald, who called it “super interesting” and suggested “elite institutions” find time “in between calling ordinary citizens stupid and selfish” to reflect on the “huge messaging failures, inconsistencies and lies that account for much distrust in official [Covid] messaging.”
Wakana’s attempts to whip the corporate media into line follows Friday’s announcement by the CDC that claimed 74% of people who were recently infected by the Delta variant of the coronavirus in a Cape Cod, Massachusetts resort had been fully vaccinated. The Cape Cod study was “pivotal” in informing the decision to recommend indoor masking, said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
While the White House embraced the masking guidelines earlier this week, it has continued to insist on vaccinations as the way forward, arguing that the rise in cases was predominantly a problem “among the unvaccinated.”
Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday that a national vaccine mandate was “not under consideration at this time,” and the US was “not going to head towards a lockdown.”
Jean-Pierre specifically cited Walensky as an expert the White House deferred to on virus matters. “We listen to the scientists, and they tell us that it’s the Delta variant,” she told reporters. “That’s what they’re telling us … These are scientists. They’re the experts.”
Speaking to Fox News on Friday afternoon, Walensky said a federal vaccine mandate might be on the cards. “That’s something that I think the administration is looking into,” she said, only to backtrack later and “clarify” that there would be no such mandate.
The Biden administration was amid introducing mandatory vaccinations for federal agencies when the CDC reversed its guidance on masking, throwing the efforts to promote vaccination into disarray.
Since then, the Los Angeles public school district – the second-largest in the country – has announced it would be mandating tests on a weekly basis for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, in addition to the county mask mandate imposed two weeks ago.
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