According to an email obtained by Axios, staff at the Centers for Disease Control—an organization that’s vital to protecting public health—has been directed to not communicate with the public via the press.
The message—sent by public affairs officer Jeffrey Lancashire and dated Aug. 31—instructs all CDC employees not to speak to reporters, “even for a simple data-related question.”What it said:
- “Effective immediately and until further notice, any and all correspondence with any member of the news media, regardless of the nature of the inquiry, must be cleared through CDC’s Atlanta Communications Office,” Lancashire wrote. “This correspondence includes everything from formal interview requests to the most basic of data requests.”
So the CDC’s mission is “to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S.” And to accomplish that mission, the CDC’s website says, it “conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.” [Emphasis added.]
Except now, under the Trump administration, it can only provide that health information if the bosses say so. So a local reporter writing about an outbreak of say, a Zika virus outbreak in the community can’t get information directly from local or regional CDC sources. That’s not good.