CNN Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter blasted Surgeon General Jerome Adams for asking reporters to take a break from their partisan and biased reporting to help rally Americans affected by the coronavirus.
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“We really need you all to lean into and prioritize the health and safety of the American people,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said at a White House briefing on Saturday. “No more bickering, no more partisanship, no more criticism or finger pointing. There’ll be plenty of time for that. But we all need to hit the reset button and lean into moving forward the health and safety of the American people.”
In his newsletter, Stelter said Adams should back off.
What Adams called “bickering” and “criticism” is what most of us call accountability. Is there value in focusing on the future? Yes, but when Adams said he wants “less stories looking at what happened in the past,” I hear him saying “stop exposing the Trump administration’s failures.” There is value in all of the coverage. And government officials don’t get to decide that — readers and reporters and whistleblowers and editors do.
Stelter also told Adams he should not be telling the media how to act.
Adams used the word “need,” talking to the press corps. So I will too. He needs to spend his time educating the public about how to protect each other, not lecturing the press about what’s newsworthy.
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Stelter also quoted Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty’s tweet in his newsletter:
Karen Tumulty summed it up perfectly: “Surgeon General admonishes reporters that they should not be holding government officials accountable for their actions. The real danger to the nation’s health is not to.”
Here’s what Adams said on Saturday:
I want you all to understand some straight talk from the nation’s doctor: We really need you all to lean into and prioritize the health and safety of the American people. No more bickering, no more partisanship, no more criticism or finger pointing. There’ll be plenty of time for that.
But we all need to hit the reset button and lean into moving forward the health and safety of the American people as their top priority. More stories on how people can protect themselves, more people on — or how people can get the resources that they need that we’ve unleashed from the federal government and state and local governments. Less stories looking at what happened in the past. Again, there’ll be time for that.
I want you all to understand, as [National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] Dr. [Anthony] Fauci said, this will get worse before it gets better, but we are making progress to flatten the curve. We are making progress.
Three important points: Number one, almost all people will recover. Ninety-eight, ninety-nine percent of people will recover. People need to know that. And we heard a great story on NPR this morning about an 89-year-old from that nursing home facility in Seattle who is recovered.
Number two, we must lean into protecting the most vulnerable: those with chronic or severe medical conditions, especially seniors. Now is the time for us to lean into that, and we are taking the measures to protect them at HHS. Secretary [Alex] Azar, Bob Kadlec, Bob Redfield, Admiral [Brett] Giroir are hard at work right now, leaning into that from the federal level.
But we need your help. Social distancing and mitigation, they’re not to protect the 30-year-old or the 20-year-old from getting coronavirus. They’re to protect your nana, they’re to protect your granddaddy, they’re to protect the people who you love in your lives. And we need your help.
And finally, we all have a role to play. If we are complacent, selfish, uninformed, if we spread fear and distrust and misinformation, this situation will last longer and more people will be hurt. But if we pitch in and we share the facts, we will flatten the curve and we will overcome this situation.