Political appointees at the US Department of Health and Human Services have sought to review and alter reports appearing in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, Politico reports.
Politico obtained emails in which HHS communications aides complained that the reports undermine President Donald Trump's positive messaging about the COVID-19 pandemic. It adds that CDC pushed back against many changes, but has allowed politically appointed officials to review reports and, in a few cases, change the language the reports contain.
"CDC to me appears to be writing hit pieces on the administration," Paul Alexander, an advisor to HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo wrote in an August email to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other officials, according to Politico. Alexander further added that "[n]othing [is] to go out unless I read and agree with the findings, how they, CDC, wrote it, and I tweak it to ensure it is fair and balanced and 'complete.'"
Politico notes that CDC's MMWR is well regarded by public health researchers and has been important in combating various epidemics. "It's the go-to place for the public health community to get information that's scientifically vetted," Jennifer Kates from the Kaiser Family Foundation tells Politico.