Commentary: Without dramatic changes, apologies won’t save the CDC’s reputation

The CDC thrived on misinformation and arrogance. And they did it all while deeming well-intentioned Americans who questioned their monopoly as "deniers."

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky and President Joe Biden visit with CDC staff. (White House/Flickr)

By lowering our expectations, we can credit CDC Director Rochelle Walensky for recently admitting that, “For 75 years, the CDC and public health have been preparing for COVID-19, and in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations.”

If we place a more trained eye on the exercise, Walensky avoids taking responsibility for the agency’s dishonest “guidance” regarding how to slow the spread of coronavirus; instead she only belatedly admits some of the agency’s past edicts were flawed.

CDC personnel undermined many non-governmental doctors and experts who disagreed. Those people have since been vindicated, albeit too late. Whether mask mandates, social distancing, shutting schools and businesses, or promoting unnecessary universal vaccination without acknowledging the risks, the CDC thrived on misinformation and arrogance. And they did it all while deeming well-intentioned Americans who questioned their monopoly as “deniers.” This eroded public trust, to put it mildly, in science and government.

Walensky’s apology came before the release of an internal review of the CDC’s mismanagement that she ordered this spring due to legitimate criticism, including the threat of a congressional commission to investigate wrongdoings.

With no private sector input, the report is a bureaucratic exercise to assuage gullible liberal elites but unlikely to regain trust in the agency among everyday Americans.

For instance, the report finds that CDC scientists are too focused on producing papers for “peer-reviewed journals” rather than “practical research;” so instead, CDC researchers will be evaluated on how they “produce data for action,” not “data for publication.” That’s all a Washington word salad.

Predictably, like recent IRS claims, Walensky’s review says the CDC is underfunded. That’s her chief excuse for its appalling inability to provide accurate information on life-and-death matters?

Just like failing public schools flush with cash, this excuse is balderdash. Congress appropriated huge sums for “data modernization” at the CDC, and the last three budgets alone gave more than a billion dollars to improve its information systems.

Walensky has insisted that the idea for the CDC’s review was her own and not the White House’s. Is she covering for Team Biden’s failures? She’s been very political the last 20 months.

Walensky bowed to rogue teachers unions when dictating anti-science guidance on school closings. Tragically, shutting public schools — most often in the largest and most desperate cities — caused childhood mental illness to soar while crushing vulnerable families and children infinitely more than a virus that doesn’t affect kids. Anthony Fauci and his $400,000 annual pension can arrogantly lie about their effects, but it’s the truth.

Will acknowledging failure and offering contrition recapture public faith in the CDC? The organization’s failure to detect COVID’s presence early and its failures to deliver a containment strategy are redolent to the AIDS epidemic a generation ago and monkeypox in 2022, but on a larger scale.

But the main problem may be intrinsic; the CDC forgot their foremost task is preventing epidemics of communicable disease, not lecturing or politicizing.

To hold the public’s trust again, Walensky should ask Congress to dramatically trim the bloated CDC and restore its now-distracted focus. The agency’s ancillary endeavors can be sent to other government agencies within the post-Fauci National Institutes of Health.

So, yes, drastic changes are needed, in addition to mea culpas. As governmental agencies rarely remedy errors, the jury is still out.


A.J. Kaufman

A.J. Kaufman is an Alpha News columnist. His work has appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Florida Sun-Sentinel, Indianapolis Star, Israel National News, Orange County Register, St. Cloud Times, Star-Tribune, and across AIM Media Midwest and the Internet. Kaufman previously worked as a school teacher and military historian.