A senior US Department of Health and Welfare official angrily defeated dozens of journalists, accusing them of being “tricked” by what he said. misleading story of eliminating federal funding for 13 coronavirus testing sites.
The tirade made by spokesman Michael Caputo led to the sudden halt of the teleconference that HHS held for reporters with Admiral Brett Jiuar, king of the Trump administration’s Covid-19 testing.
“The reason we got this call so fast and why we had more than 75 reporters is because you were hyped up,” Caputo says indignantly, for the first time after almost an hour, silently interrupting the conversation, almost without saying a word.
“Someone gave you misinformation,” Caputo said loudly. “You understand? I’m old enough to remember when it was considered unfair to undermine public confidence in the public health system. ”
“This is what the people who twisted you in this story are trying to do,” said Caputo, HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Relations, who was appointed to work in April after several years as a Republican in New York and working on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for the White House.
Caputo and to a lesser extentGiroir opposed a series of news stories detailing how the federal government would eliminate funding for 13 community coronavirus testing sites in five states by June 30. Seven sites are located in Texas.
Giroir spent a considerable amount of time during this call, detailing how these sites will remain open, albeit with state and local funding, and that there are already hundreds of other Covid-19 testing sites run by private organizations that are supported directly or indirectly by federal money.
Giroir said on call that testing opportunities across the country would not be reduced by stopping funding for 13 sites, but instead would actually be expanded.
Towards the end of the conversation, one reporter was called to ask a question, but Caputo intervened after the journalist was not heard.
“This is less than one thousandth of the test equipment in this country. Less than one thousandth! ” Said Caputo, his voice rising.
“And yet you spend an hour on a phone call, and we distract people from fighting the coronavirus so that you can … so that your information can be corrected!” Caputo said.
“The people who told you this are undermining the public health system,” he said.
“I urge you, and I’m recorded with you to call them back and ask them why they are working to undermine the public health system in the midst of a pandemic,” Caputo said.
“Please report it accurately. Many thanks.”
After this article was first published, Caputo kept up the heat, taking into account its title.
If CNBC article reporters “knew me, they would have known that I had not lost my temper,” he tweeted. “A call extension of 20 minutes does not end it all of a sudden. But their story is true. ”
And replying to the Washington Post reporter Page Cunningham that he “yelled” at another reporter during the conversation, Caputo wrote: “If I were yelling, you would know that, Page. You see the stupidity of this planted story. Do you need more time? “
Caputo, before becoming a representative of HHS, already had a reputation as an aggressive, sometimes profane political advocate.
He quit Trump’s campaign in July 2016 after tweeting “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” in response to Trump’s dismissal of his then campaign manager Cory Lewandowski.
Caputo is a longtime friend of Roger Stone, a Republican colleague who was convicted last year of lying to Congress and forging witnesses.
Haput’s installation of Caputo was widely regarded as an attempt to check department secretary Alex Azar, whom Trump reportedly was unhappy at the time he was considering a coronavirus pandemic.
Kaputo is also the author of The Deception of Ukraine: How Decades of Corruption in the Former Soviet Republic Caused Trump’s False Impeachment.