An epidemic of revisionism: In rush to falsely credit Donald Trump for vaccines, media ignores Trump's sabotage of Biden on vaccinations


Last night, President Biden spoke to the nation about the speed at which his administration and Democrats in Congress are moving to accelerate COVID vaccinations, the reopening of the economy, and deliver economic relief to Americans impacted by the pandemic.

The administration has doubled weekly vaccine shipments since they took office, and this week and stood up a whole-of-government effort to more than double the pace at people are being vaccinated to over 2 million a day. The President announced this week that yet another 100 million vaccine doses (of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine) have been purchased, for the first time raising the previously unthinkable possibility that the United States has not only secured enough vaccines to vaccinate every American but will soon have a surplus. In his address Thursday, President Biden made the groundbreaking announcement that every American adult will be eligible to schedule their vaccination by May 1, that we are on pace to beat his goal to deliver 100 million doses in arms in the first 100 days by 40 days, and that if things keep looking up, Americans will have their summer - and 4th of July - back.

On the economic front, the largest economic stimulus ever enacted by Congress - the President's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan to ease financial pain during the pandemic as well as to set up the country for success for a roaring economic comeback  -moved through Congress with breakneck speed, and was signed into law by President Biden earlier on Thursday, the 50th day of his administration. Not only is a host of direct assistance coming to Americans in what is being called the most comprehensive anti-poverty legislation in generations, corporate America is rolling back layoffs and furloughs because of the passage of the American Rescue Plan.

Things have moved so quickly that the former administration - whose rank incompetence in managing the public health crisis has sentenced over 525,000 of our fellow Americans to death - almost seems like a distant memory. One might even say that in the first 50 days of their administration, President Biden and Vice President Harris have moved in warp speed.

But in covering the President's speech, the media's focus was a different kind of warp speed, namely the government's efforts to speed the development of vaccines, an effort known as Operation Warp Speed. The mainstream press is murmuring that President Biden did not credit his predecessor, insurrectionist Donald Trump, for the development of the vaccines in the first place, since it was his administration that started Operation Warp Speed.

From the New York Times to the Washington Post to ABC News, conflict journalists stampeded over each other to get to press stories claiming that Biden's success in vaccinations is merely the natural progression of the Trump administration's efforts, and as such, President Biden is essentially taking credit for his predecessor's work without sharing any with his predecessor. Mean, mean Biden.

It's almost like the media ate up Donald Trump's childish tweet masquerading as a statement from his office demanding he be given credit and became instantly hypnotized by it.

The problem with all the bellyaching over Trump being credit for Operation Warp Speed, though, is that he doesn't deserve any. Operation Warp Speed, in many ways, succeeded in spite of Trump, not because of him.


It's not that Operation Warp Speed doesn't deserve any credit. It does. It played an important part in speeding up the development of what typically takes years to create, test through clinical trials, and bring to market: vaccines. But Operation Warp Speed's success in fast-tracking vaccines did not sprout from nothingness. A Government Accountability Office report published last month notes that OWS vaccine candidates followed the approach first developed during the ebola epidemic by the Obama administration to speed clinical trials for vaccines by running what are usually consecutive phases of the trial concurrently. One of the main technological breakthroughs in vaccine development that enabled the quick development of COVID vaccines - namely the advent of something called mRNA vaccines - also first demonstrated practical application under the Obama administration's fight against ebola. I don't remember either Donald Trump giving credit to President Obama for creating an approach that the Trump administration got to capitalize on. Nor, for that matter, do I remember the media being particularly concerned at Trump's failure to credit his predecessor.


Still, I am not suggesting that Biden snubbed Trump as a payback for Trump snubbing Obama. While Operation Warp Speed began under the Trump administration, Donald Trump himself sabotaged its credibility in damaging ways. For months before the election, Trump tried to publicly and artificially align the vaccine development timeline with the November election in order to improve his chances of retaining power. It risked undermining the public's confidence in the eventual vaccines so much that the drugmakers developing the vaccines and the FDA were forced to take the rare step of contradicting a sitting president in order to salvage the reputation of the scientific process.

And when he did lose the election, Trump publicly accused the FDA and pharmaceutical companies of conspiring with Democrats to delay approval of the vaccines in order to doom his re-election chances.

Trump continued to sabotage the public confidence in vaccines by refusing to encourage the public - especially his supporters, who, according to a recent survey are the most likely to reject the vaccine - to take the vaccine, even though the coward that he is, he made sure to vaccinate himself and his family in private before he left the White House. Every other living former president, first ladies, and the then-President-elect and Vice President-elect chose to be vaccinated in front of cameras in order to boost public confidence.

Sabotage was the name of the game when it came to how Donald Trump handled the COVID pandemic. He sabotaged public health officials' efforts to tame the spread of the virus by mocking masks and railing against stay-at-home orders, he downplayed the deadliness of the coronavirus and bragged about it, and he sabotaged the public's confidence in the vaccines themselves. Donald Trump remains, to this day, the single greatest purveyor of lies and misinformation about the public health risks of the pandemic.


Trump also - and this is crucial - sabotaged the incoming Biden administration after he lost the election in November. Once the election was called on November 7, Trump became consumed with trying overturn the election through ridiculous legal challenges, the (potentially criminal) attempting to bribe and intimidate public officials, and spreading the big lie that the election was stolen - the big lie that would culminate on January 6 in an armed insurrection against the United States Capitol by a domestic terrorist mob that Trump assembled and gave marching orders to. Trump never did care about the actual responsibilities of being president, but he cared even less in the months following his election loss.

During that time, Donald Trump and his cronies also moved to obstruct the incoming Biden team in every way they could. The Trump administration denied the then-President-elect classified intelligence briefings, access to congratulatory messages for him at the State Department from foreign heads of state, and information about internal plans to distribute vaccines. Emily Murphy, Trump's appointee at the General Services Administration, refused for weeks to ascertain Joe Biden's win and make official transition resources available to the incoming president before finally relenting on November 23.

But even after the Biden-Harris transition was granted official access, the sabotage continued. After Donald Trump fired the Defense Secretary in December, the acting head of the Pentagon he installed cancelled briefings and meetings with the Biden transition team, keeping them in the dark as Trump went on to install more cronies that he believed Biden could not remove once he became president.

And the Trump's team continued to stonewall the incoming president and his health team on their COVID and vaccine distribution plans all the way up until the day they left office. We would later find out that part of the reason for Trump's stonewalling was that he had no comprehensive plan to distribute the vaccine.

It showed. By the end of December, the US had put just 2 million shots in arms, a paltry sum compared even to the Trump administration's own goal of 20 million. They didn't even meet that 20 million goal as of January 20, the day Donald Trump hid away to Florida and ducked President Biden's inauguration ceremony, when the US had administered just 14 million doses. By contrast, as of this writing, the US has administered over 98 million doses. Put another way, six out of every seven vaccine doses in the arms were administered under the Biden administration, even as they had to essentially start from scratch to stand up a national strategy.

Joe Biden did not give Donald Trump credit because there was no credit due to Donald Trump. And the President, in my humble opinion, exercised extraordinary restraint by not laying out a laundry list of Trump's failures and sabotage.

The national media's attempts to rehabilitate the image of a disgraced insurrectionist must not be allowed to stand.

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