This Enormous Anti-Trump Coronavirus Myth Has Just Been Debunked

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There’s an enormous bit of fake news swirling around the Beltway and the major media has been all-too-glad to pick it up, run with it, and spread it to their millions of viewers and readers. At a press conference on Saturday, a reporter even confronted President Trump with it directly. We called it a “myth” in the headlines, but even that word makes you think about internet memes and rumors posted on social media. That’s not what this is. This is a piece of news that has been reported in the Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, and every other mainstream outlet.

It goes like this: President Trump is directly responsible for a poor federal response to the coronavirus. Why? Because in 2018, he shut down the “Pandemic Response Office” in the White House that had been so carefully, responsibly set up by President Obama in the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak. Had Trump not been so reckless in firing all of these people, the U.S. would have been in a much better position to deal with COVID-19.

You’ve heard that one, right? Hmm, sounds pretty bad.

Except…it isn’t true.

On Monday, former White House official Tim Morrison, who used to be the “senior director for counterproliferation and biodefense on the National Security Council” wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post explaining why this narrative is utterly fictitious.

“It has been alleged by multiple officials of the Obama administration, including in The Post, that the president and his then-national security adviser, John Bolton, ‘dissolved the office’ at the White House in charge of pandemic preparedness. Because I led the very directorate assigned that mission, the counterproliferation and biodefense office, for a year and then handed it off to another official who still holds the post, I know the charge is specious,” wrote Morrison.

Morrison went on to explain that, for years, the NSC has grown to an uncoordinated, unsophisticated bureaucracy where various “departments” have little overlap with each other. Because this bloat actually makes our national security weaker and slower – not stronger and more efficient – the Trump administration took steps in 2018 to streamline staff and consolidate interrelated operations.

“One such move at the NSC was to create the counterproliferation and biodefense directorate, which was the result of consolidating three directorates into one, given the obvious overlap between arms control and nonproliferation, weapons of mass destruction terrorism, and global health and biodefense. It is this reorganization that critics have misconstrued or intentionally misrepresented,” Morrison wrote. “If anything, the combined directorate was stronger because related expertise could be commingled.”

Perhaps the most important thing that Morrison explained: “The reduction of force in the NSC has continued since I departed the White House. But it has left the biodefense staff unaffected — perhaps a recognition of the importance of that mission to the president, who, after all, in 2018 issued a presidential memorandum to finally create real accountability in the federal government’s expansive biodefense system.”

This is a time – if there ever was one – for our media organizations to put aside their hatred for this president and get their stories straight before they go to press. If there are serious accountability questions, they can be saved for the aftermath. For now, these partisan, factually-challenged journalists need to put their knives away and help us unite against a common enemy: The coronavirus.

Anything less is a colossal distraction from the mission and a shameful abdication of responsibility.