When Donald Trump interrupted his press briefing on Monday to introduce Scott Atlas many people had no idea who the president was talking about.
To viewers of Fox News, however, Atlas was a familiar face.
Dr. Scott Atlas is a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution who regularly appears on the cable news outlet to present his opinions, not shared by the vast majority of other doctors, about the COVID-19 pandemic and urging local governments to open their schools and for college sports to resume despite the well-publicized risks inherent in such moves.
No wonder that Trump — who has quoted medical advice from doctors who believe that gynecological problems are caused by night visits from demons and that alien DNA is being used to treat diseases — has named Atlas as one of his new medical advisors.
“He’s working with us and will be working with us on the coronavirus,” Trump said. “And he has many great ideas. And he thinks what we’ve done is really good, and now we’ll take it to a new level.”
While that testimonial alone should be enough to disqualify Dr. Atlas for any serious advisory role, it does amply demonstrate that as long as you confirm the president’s pre-existing beliefs one can go far in this administration without a shred of credibility on scientific or medical issues.
Apparently, all one has to do is go on Fox News and parrot any false assertions that Trump has made about the COVID-19 pandemic and, poof, a job offer from the White House comes pouring in.
According to CNN:
“Although Monday was Trump’s first public introduction of Atlas, multiple sources with knowledge of the relationship told CNN that Atlas has been informally advising Trump for weeks. Trump first noticed Atlas on Fox News, where he asserted it doesn’t matter “how many cases” there are in the US, wrongly claimed those under 18 years old have ‘essentially no risk of dying,’ implied teachers who are at high risk for contracting Covid-19 should ‘know how to protect themselves,’ baselessly claimed ‘children almost never transmit the disease’ and without evidence blamed a rise in cases in southern states on protests and border crossings.”
There is a bit of a chicken and egg question here.
Did Trump start saying that children were immune from deleterious effects of the coronavirus — ignoring the actual scientific evidence provided to him by his top immunologists like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx — before or after he saw Dr. Atlas on Fox News?
Given that Trump’s brain seems to have a parrot-like ability to simply repeat whatever he last heard on television rather than absorb information from verbal or written reports generated by actual experts, it wouldn’t be surprising if Dr. Atlas is the actual source of the president’s misinformation.
“I’m an adviser,” Atlas told Fox News on Monday night about his new role. “I was asked by the President to advise him and it’s obvious that the answer is, ‘Yes, sir, and any way I can help I will do so.'”
While the Trump administration refuses to say whether Atlas was being paid with taxpayer money, they have confirmed that he has been given space at the Executive Office Building next door to the White House to work out of for now.
Many see the addition of Dr. Atlas to the president’s advisory retinue as a slap in the face of Doctors Fauci and Birx and a way to sideline them after they pointed out publicly that perhaps some of the things that Trump was saying wasn’t exactly factually correct.
Even right-wing bloviator Rush Limbaugh, font of coronavirus misinformation himself, has said that Dr. Atlas was brought into the president’s advisory circle because “he is countering Fauci.”
Trump keeps doubling down on his rejection of science and now he has a willing accomplice with a medical degree to help him justify his spreading of dangerous misinformation that will only prevent the nation from reducing the spread of the pandemic and recovering the economy.
The only solution to this sad state of affairs is to make sure you are registered to vote and use your ballot to eject this pitiful excuse for a president from office.
Original reporting by Kaitlin Collins at CNN.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.