The New York Times raised eyebrows with a glowing profile of CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who’s been widely criticized for her leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
The piece declares in its headline that Walensky “follows the science” and calls her “a fierce advocate and an empathetic scientist.”
“On her first day as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January, Dr. Rochelle Walensky ordered a review of all Covid-related guidance on the agency’s website. Some of its advice had been twisted by the Trump administration, and her message was clear: The C.D.C. would no longer bend to political meddling,” Times reporter Apoorva Mandavilli began the profile. “Four months later, Dr. Walensky announced that vaccinated people could stop wearing masks in most settings. The recommendation startled not just the White House but also state and local leaders, prompting criticism that she had failed to prepare Americans for the agency’s latest about-face during the pandemic.”
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The piece spun Walensky’s jarring “impending doom” remarks back in March warning that the virus could come roaring back if Americans don’t continue taking precautions, writing that she said in a “voice quavering with emotion” and with “her eyes glistening with tears.” It quotes her husband, who commented on her “genuine anguish” about the pandemic.
“She deeply felt the weight of a half a million dead,” he told the Times.
Mandavilli boasted Walensky’s resume, how she met her husband, how she attends her sons’ “piano concerts, karate tournaments and half marathons,” and even what her “standard lunch” is. However, the Times reporter failed to mention the controversy over the surfaced emails showing the influence of the teachers’ union in dictating CDC messaging.
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While she acknowledges “occasional missteps in communications,” Mandavilli dinged Walensky for announcing that vaccinated people can skip wearing masks indoors despite the Times reporter admitting that scientists supported the latest research.
“But many felt the agency had rushed the decision to end mask use without considering parts of the country where infections were still high, and without grasping the mistrust and culture clashes the new advice would engender,” Mandavilli wrote.
The Times’ report was panned on social media, particularly after the paper tweeted, “By all accounts, the CDC’s new leader, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, is a fierce advocate and an empathetic scientist — but her tenure will be defined by repairing broken trust in an agency once renowned as the world leader in public health.”
“She changes CDC guidance to accommodate lobbying from the teachers union but she’s the one who is following the science and ‘repairing broken trust’ You can’t make it up,” Ruthless podcast co-host Josh Holmes reacted.
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“There are, in fact, some ‘accounts’ that run contrary. geez,” CNN contributor Scott Jennings swiped the Times.
“Director Walensky is only a fierce advocate for items that push a liberal agenda. She refused to listen to science and listened to teachers unions instead,” Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., tweeted.
“My God what a joke this is. Words not mentioned: unions, schools,” Purple Strategies managing director Rory Cooper reacted.