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The Media Is Finally Beginning to Come Clean about COVID-19
Scott Atlas provides an insider’s account of the horrendous mistakes made throughout the first year of the pandemic
When I first learned of the Midwestern Doctor who authors The Forgotten Side of Medicine Substack, I was drawn to their deep understanding both of medical history and medical propaganda. Soon after we connected, I requested a discussion of the recent plea for COVID-19 amnesty, a request that has evolved into a series.
As the establishment finds itself in an ever more difficult position of defending the grotesque narrative it forced upon us over the last few years, a series of attempts to appease the public and return to business as usual have been published. When these attempts are viewed collectively and in relation to the events occurring at the time, they provide invaluable lessons for each of us.
In school we are taught that we study history so we can avoid repeating it. I in turn would argue that a future of repeating tragedies is never set in stone because there will always be courageous individuals (like those discussed in this article) who at great risk to themselves are willing to challenge the narrative. However, for the narrative to actually shift, in addition to these brave individuals speaking out, the public must collectively become aware of the historical context behind the current dysfunctional narrative.
This article does an phenomenal job of breaking down much of what actually went wrong in the first year of COVID-19 (which set the stage for the vaccines being pushed on the public) and what those issues mean for our society which has now been left struggling to pick up the pieces from this debacle. I consider it an honor to host this article for my subscribers.
Lastly, I will note that I have recently become a big fan of Idiocracy, and it is quite depressing how close it comes to accurately portraying the almost surreal federal response to COVID-19.
In many ways, the modern era is a product of Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who decided to make a name for himself by using the developing science of psychology not for psychotherapy but rather for controlling the behavior of the public. Bernays’ message resonated with the ruling elite of the era, who, like Bernays, believed that the masses were inherently irrational and needed to be guided to “civil” behavior which could maintain what the elites judged to be the progress of society.
Many debated the wisdom of this approach (activists of the time opposed it), and arguments on the topic frequently touched upon the increasing technological complexity of society. Advocates of a propagandist based government asserted that society’s complexity had reached the point that the masses lacked the capacity to make informed decisions about the appropriate course of society, while those opposed to the propagandist model argued that the educational system needed to be reformed such that it empowered the public to address the complexities of the modern age.
The propagandist side eventually won, largely due to the recognition that the mass propagandizing of society was necessary to win the world wars. However, in recent times, the utility of propaganda has changed, primarily due to the internet breaking the monopoly on propaganda previously held by the legacy media. Propaganda campaigns often cost millions to develop and disseminate throughout the society, yet many people, like myself, can now, at no cost, create counter-narratives in our free time that often suffice to upend these propaganda campaigns.
Whenever I observe a propaganda campaign in action, I frequently wonder how far away from reality its message can go before it falls apart. In some cases, like Nazi Germany, the collective hypnosis that bewitched the country was so powerful that nothing could break that spell—it took a world war to end it. Within the United States, as the decades have gone by, I’ve observed an increasingly sophisticated propaganda apparatus come into place and reciprocally, a stronger and stronger anti-propaganda citizens’ movement to oppose it.
In general, I’ve found the propagandist side tends to succeed, but once the lies reach a certain point of discordance with reality, they are no longer able to “win,” and a significant portion of the population begins to reject the existing narrative. Over the last 8 years, I’ve noticed a very distinctive shift with all of this, as the propaganda system which could ensnare the public has weakened, due to the machine making increasingly audacious lies as well as the internet being implemented to oppose the lies.
This trend is best shown by a few recent political events, such as Trump’s presidency, the COVID-19 lockdowns, and the COVID-19 vaccine mandates. In all of these, the propaganda infrastructure failed to persuade the majority of the public to adopt the official narrative and instead, its over-the-top attempts to do so significantly increased the public’s distrust in the official narratives put forward by “authorities.”
Although I am continually awed by what mass propaganda can get the public to believe. I believe mandating the COVID-19 vaccines was something so egregious that no amount of propaganda could overcome the widespread distrust it would create. I believe this because:
1. Many were forced to choose between prolonged economic hardship or submitting to a vaccination they did not want; being dominated in this manner is something people rarely forget.
2. Many either directly suffered a significant adverse effect from vaccination or saw it happen to someone they knew (I believe this now applies to over half of the USA’s adult population). Since many of those events were sudden deaths, the link to vaccination is both unambiguous and difficult to forget.
3. The ever-shifting promises from our healthcare authorities about the vaccines have over and over again been proven to be lies. Because of the two previous points, the public remembers exactly what was said and no amount of propaganda can rewrite the history of what happened.
All of this has led to the situation where we are continually watching the narrative implode in real time, as those in charge realize what they had previously hoped for is untenable (e.g., the public compliantly vaccinating every 4 months indefinitely). Instead, major concessions will need to be made to regain the public’s trust and something (e.g., long COVID or climate change) will need to be offered up as an explanation for the epidemic of sudden deaths and permanent disability we are now facing.
Note: Ed Dowd, whom I consider to be a reliable source, has stated he has been told what was described in the previous paragraph by contacts within the Biden administration.
Pleas for Amnesty
One interesting snapshot of the collapsing narrative is provided by a series of articles written by mainstream publications.
The first, published in The Atlantic on 3/22/21 acknowledged that so-called “experts” had made some minor mistakes but simultaneously had the audacity to state that we nonetheless must trust them rather than our own instincts:
Note: Many people I know who have been severely injured by a pharmaceutical have told me that they did not want to take it (or continue taking it), and that their biggest regret was ignoring their intuition, which told them to avoid it, because of the pressure that the authority figure (e.g., the prescribing doctor) imposed upon them to take the pharmaceutical.
The Atlantic essentially argued that we depend on experts for the world to go round, and that the tasks delegated to them are complex enough that we can’t always expect them to perform perfectly:
The rest of us, however, can do better. We are capable of being serious adults who understand, if we choose to try, and accept that in every crisis, risks and imperfect solutions exist, while still maintaining our faith in expertise and its achievements.
I get a little shaky thinking about being alone on a boat hundreds of miles from land, just as I do about getting a shot in my arm to protect me from something no one knew existed a year ago. But I know that dedicated and decent people created such miracles. They have done their part, and I will do mine.
Given the fact that we now know the experts (e.g., Anthony Fauci) deliberately lied throughout the pandemic, and provided extremely harmful advice (while deliberately suppressing helpful advice), I am not the most inclined to believe these arguments. Fortunately, this attempt by The Atlantic never caught on, and I only learned about it long after it had been published.
The next attempt on 10/30/22 built upon the 3/22/21 article’s message and instead of commanding us to continue trusting experts, simply made a plea for amnesty so that we could all move on and forget what happened.
This plea (which I discussed here) was justified by the argument that the complexity of handling COVID-19 and the uncertainty of available information at the time made it impossible to make the correct decisions for handling the pandemic. I did not believe this held water because:
•The available information showed that what the experts were doing was wrong; the experts just deliberately suppressed it to protect their narrative.
•Uncertain information does not justify poor decision making—every leader throughout history has had to navigate uncertainty and has been judged by their success or failure in handling the situation with which they were presented.
One of the key challenges for those who advanced the narrative is how to reconcile how they got things so wrong (as their tribe typically prides itself on being the “smart” ones). This is why excuses that absolve them from responsibility for their severe errors of judgment, such as “we had no way of knowing” are so well received in this tribe. Similarly, to them, the only conceivable reason why those with differing beliefs could have actually been correct was, to quote Oster:
In the face of so much uncertainty, getting something right had a hefty element of luck. And, similarly, getting something wrong wasn’t a moral failing.
Note: When Scott Adams on 1/21/23 admitted his errors in supporting the COVID narrative, he, like Oster, also argued that those who got things right by opposing it succeeded purely due to their luck in picking the correct side. I mention this because throughout my life I have observed that unsuccessful people tend to blame their mistakes on bad “luck,” while successful people are dramatically more honest with themselves when they make mistakes.
Unlike the first plea, Oster’s plea attracted significantly more attention due to widespread outrage triggered by her disingenuous and condescending attitude (e.g., she asked for forgiveness without admitting she did anything wrong, continued the demonization of those opposed to the narrative, and repeatedly made false claims throughout the article). My favorite response to the article was someone paying to fly this over her house:
Since Oster’s message was not effective at restoring the public’s trust in the health care system, something else needed to be done to solve the pickle the medical industrial complex had created for itself (such as the overall vaccination rate significantly dropping due to COVID-19).
Newsweek, another establishment publication, took over for The Atlantic and published this editorial authored by a medical student (which I discussed here):
Note: many of us suspected that the Bass article was ghost written by a public relations firm (as its well- crafted language differed significantly from Bass’s past writings and recent interviews).
What was interesting about Bass’s editorial was that on the surface it appeared to be exactly what we had asked for after Oster’s piece—a direct admission of fault for each aspect of the COVID-19 response, which did not attempt to make excuses like claiming it was impossible to know what to do at the time. However, when I read deeper into it, I noticed that:
•He labeled those on front lines trying to stop all of this as “conspiracy theorists and a cottage industry of scientific contortionists,” and in a later tweet stated that many leading figures in this movement were not real or serious scientists.
•He deliberately avoided touching on the topic of COVID-19 vaccine injury (which for many is the most concerning issue).
•He deliberately avoided addressing the topic of the unprecedented spike in deaths in the working class following Biden’s illegal vaccine mandates for them.
As such, I interpreted this piece to be a forced apology that the medical industrial complex really did not want to have to provide (e.g., Bass also mentioned the tragedy of declining vaccination rates but did not discuss the severe consequences of the COVID-19 vaccines which the American public is now alarmed about). Nonetheless, I also viewed it as immense progress, since it demonstrated that the medical system is feeling enough pressure from the blowback of its COVID-19 policies that it is willing to bring quite a bit to the table to regain the public’s trust.
Fortunately, we were able to prevent Bass’s apology from gaining traction. I was thus, quite eager to see what would be presented next since we had made it clear that the previous insincere attempts would not suffice. On March 6, Newsweek delivered:
While the previous pleas for amnesty were written by people who simply supported the narrative and did not have much to offer (beyond a decent online following), Scott Atlas is the real deal.
Scott Atlas is a renowned physician (e.g., he was chief of neuroradiology at Stanford for 14 years and authored a fundamental textbook in his field), who transitioned to becoming health policy analyst for the Hoover Institution. Atlas was frequently consulted for advice by leading political figures, and came to prominence during COVID-19 by dissenting against the lockdown policies when the hysteria behind them made it quite dangerous to disagree with the narrative. Because he chose to speak out publicly on the issue, the Trump Administration requested for him to join the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
What I find fascinating about Atlas is that by the standards of the not-too-distant past, he was clearly a moderate, and held mainstream positions endorsed by the scientific community. Unfortunately, because of the hysteria which overtook the medical field Atlas was instead painted as an extremist and mass murderer.
[Note from Pierre Kory: Atlas was not the only moderate who was targeted. I also learned of the sad story of a highly regarded public health official in Hawaii who was sanctioned and defamed for daring to suggest using ivermectin to treat COVID-19.]
Atlas later published a memoir about his time there, which I believe provides the best available summary of what went wrong during COVID-19 (discussed further here) that I would highly recommend reading. Since that time, he has spoken out publicly about the dangers that scientific censorship poses to our democracy, and the profound mistakes made throughout the COVID-19 response due to the extreme suppression of free speech and open scientific discussion.
Note: Peter Navarro, another skeptic of the narrative at the White House, like Atlas, could see that something was greatly amiss with the existing pandemic narrative. From the very start (as discussed in his memoir), Navarro tried to implement policies which could have averted the disaster we experienced, but like Atlas, was sidelined by forces within the White House. Based on what I’ve read from both their accounts, I hold the opinion that the Trump Administration had a shortage of personnel to advance Trump’s populist agenda, and as a result, many policies I felt needed to be enacted never could be implemented.
The White House Coronavirus Task Force
Much of what happened behind the scenes on the Coronavirus Task Force was quite surreal, and Atlas compared it to being at the Mad Hatter’s tea party from Alice and Wonderland. Although I understand his rationale for this analogy, I personally believe that the events he chronicled are more accurately encapsulated by the movie Idiocracy—many of the events Atlas recounted resembled scenes straight from the movie like this one:
The essential problem with the Coronavirus Task Force was that very few members of the Trump Administration had a good grasp of the science behind COVID-19, and instead deferred to the expertise of the doctors within the White House.
Then reality hit me. The vice president had some papers in his hands. With great pride, he excitedly showed me a printout that had just been handed to him. It was a very simple, frankly crude, chart documenting the increasing number of PCR tests administered by the day in the United States. “Congratulations!” I replied, feigning excitement. But inside, I realized something far more significant was being revealed.
The White House was looking at the simplest indicators—rudimentary numbers without detail, without context, without any concept of what actually mattered. The total number of tests was far from the critical part of the situation. We were already more than six months into the pandemic. What should have mattered was who was tested, when they were tested, what the testing revealed about contagiousness, and what positive testing meant in terms of action. That was my first “OMG” moment.
Note: During the pandemic, the media regularly catastrophized not having enough ventilators, which led to a national drive to produce as many ventilators as possible (despite their excessive use being a key cause of death during the pandemic), and did something similar with the vaccines (whose increased administration likewise caused harm). Likewise, the media (and celebrities) continually admonished the Trump Administration for not offering an ever- increasing number of COVID-19 tests to the public, which led the administration to keep on increasing their deployment, despite no tangible benefits (and only harms) resulting from their mass implementation.
The three most vocal doctors on the task force, Anthony Fauci, Deborah Birx, and Robert Redfield (the CDC director) were all career bureaucrats with deep ties to the Department of Defense, whose experience with handling infectious diseases primarily came from HIV, a virus which behaves completely differently from SARS-CoV-2.
What was less understood was how closely connected they were to each other and their previous mutual involvement in questionable research studies (such as this one by Redfield and Birx discussed in Vaccine A or Fauci’s long history of atrocious human experimentation throughout the HIV era detailed within The Real Anthony Fauci). Because of their longstanding ties, they consistently echoed identical (and often nonsensical) policy positions on the task force, and it was later revealed that they had formed a pact that they would all resign in unison if Trump dismissed a single one of them from the task force.
Prior to Atlas’s involvement, for the prior six months, the Coronavirus Task Force had committed itself to handling COVID-19 through doing the following:
•Encouraging as much mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing as possible.
•Performing as much COVID-19 testing as possible.
•Using the positive results from the COVID-19 tests to justify as many lockdowns as possible for all segments of the population.
This approach had a few major issues:
•Everyone already knew the COVID mitigation approaches (e.g., washing your hands) within a month of COVID-19 beginning in the United States, so there was no point in continuing to belabor the point (governors eventually got so frustrated with Birx spreading this message but doing nothing more, that they stopped accepting her solicitations to visit).
•They were abjectly failing to prevent those most vulnerable from dying from COVID-19 (e.g., the elderly).
•They were devastating the American economy and creating significantly greater health consequences than those caused by COVID. These consequences primarily arose from the poverty they created, the severe mental health issues resulting from social isolation (particularly for adolescents), and the harms from individuals having to forego routine necessary care.
Note: many other issues also arose due to the lockdowns such as significant increases in domestic abuse.
Atlas instead advocated for the following:
1) Continue the basic COVID-19 mitigation measures (e.g., washing hands).
2) Prioritize the available resources for protecting those at high risk of dying (e.g., at the nursing homes).
3) Allow everyone not at a high risk of dying to live their lives as normal without a large number of harsh mandates placed upon them. This was especially true for allowing children to return to schools.
Unfortunately for Atlas, while these three approaches were both absolutely critical and clearly logical, many entrenched interests strongly opposed doing them. In turn, many of the pleas for amnesty we are now witnessing are seeking forgiveness for blocking the policies Atlas (and many other prominent academics) advocated for.
The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
One of Atlas’s most disturbing discoveries on the COVID-19 Task Force was the extreme lack of medical knowledge presented by the de facto leaders of the COVID-19 Task Force, Birx, Fauci and Redfield (e.g., they did not appear to understand that most of the population were at very low risk from a fatal infection, or that different risk factors entailed very different risks of a severe COVID-19 infection). Since these three individuals were effectively able to dictate the national COVID-19 policy we suffered through for years, I will share some of Atlas’s observations.
Evident from my first encounter was what appeared to be a functioning troika of “medical experts” composed of Drs. Birx, Fauci, and Redfield. They shared thought processes and views to an uncanny level. One depressing commonality was that none of them showed detailed knowledge of ongoing scientific literature on the pandemic. As opposed to what I had experienced with my colleagues in academic research centers, I never witnessed any of them provide any detailed critique of any journal publication. Unlike scientists with whom I had worked for decades, I never saw them voice any critical assessment, methodological or otherwise, of the pitfalls of any published studies. That analytical process is an extremely important part of evaluating medical research. Likewise, none of the three ever brought scientific publications into the meetings that I attended. And unlike other doctors I had worked with, none showed familiarity with clinical medicine or had any clinical perspective on medical journal publications or any facility with clinical terminology in meetings I attended during my time in Washington.
Atlas thus found himself in the curious position where he (with the assistance of anonymous academics around the world—some of whom I suspect migrated to Substack) had to compile and critique the existing data on COVID-19 and make it available to the Coronavirus Task Force as no one within the federal government was fulfilling this critical role.
Even though I handed out a number of these published studies to everyone at the table, no one ever mentioned them in the Situation Room. My guess was that no one in the Fauci-Redfield-Birx troika ever opened them.
I will now share some of Atlas’s most salient observations on these three individuals.
First, in Fauci’s case, although he continually spoke to the media (to the point that many in the White House questioned how he had the time to do it), Fauci was rarely present at the task force meetings. In the cases where he was present, his primary focus was on how to further terrorize the (already terrorized) public about COVID-19. I could not help but notice that this was almost identical to the playbook he developed during the AIDS epidemic (detailed within the Real Anthony Fauci), which allowed him to become one of the most successful bureaucrats in history.
Because of Fauci’s narrow focus on all the potential, but unknown harms of COVID-19, Fauci rarely contributed anything to the task force, nor appeared to be able to grasp the merits of approaches less fearful than the ones he relentlessly promoted to the public.
I described data verifying the absence of unusually high risk to teachers. I was doing almost all of the talking. Fauci listened. He offered no other studies, no other data, and nothing in dispute, other than commenting, “Well, what if we aren’t totally sure?” I was taken aback, because this was not the sort of thought process I anticipated in a data-driven scientist or public health expert.
Interestingly, there was only one time during Atlas’s time on the task force where Fauci discussed a research paper he had reviewed with them. In this instance, Fauci excitedly shared a study (which Atlas had already reviewed) suggesting an association between COVID-19 and myocarditis. What was noteworthy about this instance was that Fauci demonstrated not only that he failed to understand the study (it did not support what Fauci was claiming it did), but also to Atlas’s great surprise, that Fauci did not even understand how to pronounce standard medical terminology contained within the paper.
Note: One of Fauci’s claims to fame is that he is a chief editor of the foundational textbook for internal medicine. I checked the version which was published shortly before COVID-19 and found the mispronounced term, encephalomyelitis, was used 33 times within “his” textbook.
Since Fauci appeared to be unable to logically defend his policies, he would often use the media to attack Atlas from afar. False statements about Atlas were frequently provided to the media and in certain cases, Fauci directly attacked Atlas on national television.
Redfield, the CDC director, appeared to be the most reasonable of the three (however he almost always ended up 100% agreeing with Fauci and Birx). Nonetheless, like the other two, he failed to grasp the lack of evidence supporting the value of masking, cited nonsensical data to justify his policies, and frequently helped enable the misdeeds of the other two.
In one instance, after a great deal of work, Atlas was able to convince the task force to dial back the CDC’s testing recommendations into something much more reasonable (e.g., in many instances, it was left to a physician’s discretion to perform testing rather than it simply being indefinitely required irrespective of a physician’s judgement). Redfield nonetheless silently redacted that recommendation from the final summary of the meeting. Atlas later caught Redfield’s redaction and was ultimately able to make sure the agreed upon change, against Redfield’s wishes, did enter the official guidelines.
Once the guidelines were published, a media firestorm erupted against this guideline change, full of salacious and false accusations from anonymous sources against the Trump Administration. Much of this was so over the top (and echoed by leading Democrats), that many friends of Atlas from abroad—Switzerland, France, even Brazil—emailed him, saying, “What the hell is wrong with the United States?” After, two weeks of this (without Redfield consulting the task force), the CDC’s guidelines were then retracted.
Note: Redfield recently testified before Congress that SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab, directly contradicting Fauci’s statements throughout the pandemic. As many of you know, FOIA emails have shown early in the pandemic that Fauci coerced leading academics to bury the lab leak theory. Similarly, Fauci, in private communications spoke out against the masks he pushed on Americans. Additionally, in a July 2020 interview (go to 04:20), Fauci directly admitted that the cycle thresholds for the PCR testing he had forced on Americans were unlikely to correlate to someone having a COVID-19 infection.
Although Fauci was thought to have the greatest influence over the COVID-19 task force, Deborah Birx actually assumed that role, and did everything she possibly could to encourage lockdowns and testing across the nation. Interestingly, when Atlas tried to determine how she had obtained her critical role on the task force, he discovered that no one actually knew how she had gotten onto it in the first place.
Like Fauci and Redfield, Birx had an atrocious understanding of the data underlying her policies (based on Atlas’s account, she appeared to be the worst of the three), and seemed to continually pick and choose whatever correlation she could find to support her policies, regardless of how absurd it was. This frequently led to moments that left Atlas dumbfounded as he came to appreciate how scientifically illiterate the entire task force was, something extremely concerning given that they were depending on Birx for their data.
For example, Birx used the catastrophic (and clearly disproven) models used throughout the pandemic to promote the lockdowns in order to support her policies. This was accomplished by showing that the deaths which the models had predicted failed to occur in areas that adopted mask mandates and lockdowns, and then attributing the adoption of these policies as the reason why the model’s predicted deaths had not occurred. Since the deaths predicted by these models also failed to occur in areas which did not implement any of Birx’s policies, this suggested that the models were simply wrong, but as you would expect, Birx was never willing to consider this possibility.
Birx also always used highly inaccurate datasets pulled from Google (e.g., this one), to support her policies, which researchers around the world knew were highly inaccurate. Birx also repeatedly failed to recognize strong confounders to causative correlations that she identified (e.g., if COVID-19 cases in an area were already dropping before mask mandates or lockdowns were implemented, you cannot argue those policies caused the decline which happened—especially if an identical decline was observed in nearby areas which did not impose those policies).
Birx would also frequently identified essentially meaningless trends within the data available to her, and then directed everyone’s focus to the importance of that figure (e.g., the test positivity ratio or college students having symptoms too minor for them to recognize that they had SARS-CoV-2).
One of the saddest examples was Birx becoming alarmed that a ratio she had discovered (positive COVID-19 tests relative to COVID-19 hospitalizations) was increasing, despite there being no actual increase in total COVID-19 hospitalizations. Birx, in turn, proposed solving this issue by increasing the number of COVID-19 tests of asymptomatic individuals (these individuals are unlikely to get hospitalized even if they test positive), so that the ratio would be lowered.
Like many of the previous examples, the entire task force (including Fauci) failed to recognize the absurdity of this approach (it only served to artificially alter a theoretical ratio with no real life significance). Atlas then clearly explained the logical issues with this approach, but despite this, the task force could not process what he was saying and ultimately chose to adopt Birx’s recommendation for more testing.
Birx frequently pulled many other things out thin air. These included arbitrarily decreeing specific times that bars must close to slow the spread of COVID-19 (which, without any evidence to support it, changed from 11:00 PM to 8:00 PM as time moved forward) and coming up with increasingly sophisticated (but entirely meaningless) color codes for the graphs of data she had obtained from Google. Further compounding this behavior, she appeared to be highly emotionally unstable, was regularly prone to outbursts or passive-aggressive behaviors when she did not get her way, and would double down on her incorrect interpretations of the data when evidence undermining her conclusions were provided to her by Atlas.
Although she held significant sway in the White House (largely due to the national media adoring her), near the end of Trump’s presidency, many besides Atlas finally began to lose their patience with her:
“We absolutely need to get rid of Birx.” I [Atlas] replied with a noncommittal, “Really?” Giroir [the Assistant Secretary for Health] went on. “She cannot work with anyone. She just goes full speed ahead without consulting anyone. She’s extremely difficult, she flies off the handle at any criticism, and she doesn’t understand the data. The president needs to get rid of her.”
Normally, I would not want to devote this much time to critiquing a clearly dysfunctional human being. However, given that her whims became national policy and grievously harmed millions, I felt what actually happened behind the scenes needed to be covered here.
Unlike Atlas, I do not whatsoever consider myself an expert in most of the disciplines necessary to develop a national COVID-response. However, I am relatively certain based on what Atlas shared, that in my free time, I could have easily produced dramatically better evidence-based guidelines than what the “most respected” doctors in America were able to devise over nearly a year on the task force. That’s quite scary when you think about it.
She [Birx] strongly tried to reject my point [to prioritize targeted protection of the elderly], leaning across the table and emphatically telling me, “Nothing more could be done; we are already doing everything!” But stating something aggressively did not change the facts. Their efforts were failing to stop the deaths, and more could be done.
Don’t Make Deals With The Devil
When my team contacted the Trump Administration about early treatment options for COVID-19, we were told that our data was promising, and that they at least heard our argument that anything besides an effective treatment for COVID-19 being widely available a few months prior to the election would likely cost them the presidency. Nonetheless, we were told they could not work with us because they knew the administration would be crucified in the media for advocating for anything even slightly unorthodox (which we repeatedly saw happen throughout 2020).
As you all know now, despite the Trump Administration’s commitment to coddling Birx in order to not rock the boat ahead of the election (e.g., by permitting her to spread a message of fear on behalf of the administration across the country), Trump nonetheless lost. Similarly, Pfizer, who had the red carpet rolled out to them by the Trump Administration to facilitate the accelerated production of their vaccine, at the last minute chose to delay the finalization of their vaccine until right after the election. In effective, Pfizer stabbed Trump in the back to prevent him from getting the positive press he had been promised from getting a vaccine to market in record time.
What all these examples show is that because the Trump Administration gave in to catering its actions to the media’s expectations of what it needed to do (e.g., vaccines can never be wrong) rather than common sense like Atlas’s advice or Trump’s desire to reopen the country, they simply got burned and had nothing to show for it.
Near the end of Atlas’s appointment, he flew home and had a final conversation on the phone with Trump, and he knew he was on speaker and Trump’s staffers could overhear:
“You were right about everything, all along the way. And you know what? You were also right about something else [Birx]. Fauci wasn’t the biggest problem of all of them. It really wasn’t him. You were right about that.”
“Well, Mr. President, I will say this. You have balls. I have balls. But the closest people around you—they didn’t. They had no balls. They let you down.” I expected but didn’t receive any pushback. Instead, he replied quickly, with a slight tone of resignation and acknowledgment in his voice, rather than with any anger. “Well … they didn’t know, they just didn’t know…” and his voice trailed off.
Note: Another point Atlas made was that Ron DeSantis periodically consulted him on COVID-19. DeSantis was fairly unique because rather than trusting the experts, DeSantis took the time to try to understand all of the data on COVID-19, determine what appeared to be the most sensible policy to enact, and only contacted Atlas after he had done so in order to ask what part of his analysis was incorrect.
DeSantis, despite not being a medical “expert,” from looking at the data came to a relatively similar conclusion to Atlas. DeSantis only briefly locked down Florida (e.g., compare Florida’s response to California’s), something he was widely condemned in the media for doing so. His not only protected Florida from the hardships of the COVID-19 lockdowns, but also saved lives (Florida outperformed the nation) and as a result of his policies, he became one of the most popular governors in the country. In total during 2020, only seven states did not enact stay at home orders, and of those, only South Dakota (due to their governor wishing to respect the liberties of her constituents), avoided ordering businesses in the state to temporarily close.
The Media’s Complicity
When Atlas first came to the Whitehouse, Trump told him:
“I’m sure you will teach me many things while you’re here. But there is only one thing you’ll learn from me. Only one. You will learn how vicious, how biased, how unfair the media is. You already know they are the fake news. But you have no idea how badly. That is the one thing that you will learn from me here.”
Although it could be argued that Trump’s confrontational demeanor provoked the media’s hostility towards him, the same could not be said for Atlas. Despite this, the moment Atlas threatened the narrative (indefinite lockdowns and testing alongside doing nothing which saved lives), the media did everything they could to defame him and neutralize his influence.
As discussed above, Atlas advocated for a very reasonable policy of focusing our resources to protect groups vulnerable to COVID-19, while allowing everyone else to live their lives (rather than suffer the horrendous costs of the lockdowns). To counter this, the media collectively reframed this approach as Atlas advocating for a merciless (natural) “herd immunity” strategy where the virus was encouraged to rip through society, and countless American lives would be immorally sacrificed to reopen the economy (thereby putting profit over lives). Although this was completely different from Atlas’s much more conservative position, a significant portion of the public believed it, to the point that Atlas was repeatedly confronted in public for being a murderer (Atlas also received death threats and was publicly condemned by 98 of his colleagues at Stanford).
Note: It might not come as a surprise that many of the accusations against Atlas aired by the mainstream media were attributed to “anonymous sources” present at the task force meetings who somehow overheard Atlas stating things he never actually said.
One of the most interesting aspects of Atlas’s experience was that each time he appeared to gain traction on the task force for shifting the national COVID-19 policy to something sensible, the entire media would catastrophize the policy Atlas was pushing for. This, in turn, created sufficient public pressure to force the task force to regress to its failed policies, which only served to hurt the American public.
In many cases, the events that transpired appeared to suggest that Fauci and Birx were working hand in hand with the national media to neutralize the Atlas presented that refuted their narrative. This suspected collusion was also suggested by the continuous lavish praise Fauci and Birx both received from the media in spite of their complete failure to do anything whatsoever to address the pandemic.
Similarly, throughout the pandemic, like Fauci and Birx, the media refused to report any reassuring data to the public, and instead was only interested in portraying COVID-19 as negatively as possible to terrify the public. This is particularly ironic, as until COVID-19 broke out in the United States, the media (and many politicians) actively condemned anyone who suggested it was any more dangerous than a flu.
To this same point, in every White House press briefing, countless members of the press (who did not appear to understand any of the existing science on COVID-19) would only focus on aggressively accusing Trump of being a mass murderer, since his actions had allegedly resulted in the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of people (I’m sure you all remember CNN’s daily COVID-19 death count that mysteriously vanished after the election)
The same has never been said for Biden, which I believe illustrates how little the national media actually cares about American lives. Deaths are sensationalized when convenient and swept under the rug when they challenge a narrative. Sadly, this is by no means unique to this instance; consider for example how little attention has been paid to the massive number of deaths following forced vaccination of the American workforce.
I am not aware of anyone besides Tucker Carlson who has covered the above data.
To quote Atlas:
Scientists and the media shared the same strategy: seek out and destroy all who dared dissent from the accepted narrative, and delegitimize everything uttered by President Trump and all who agreed with him. Instead of rethinking failed policies and admitting their errors, these scientists chose to employ smears and organized rebukes against those of us who disagreed with what was implemented and who dared to help the president they despised.
The Institutional Decline of Science
Even though they [Fauci and Birx] constantly invoked “the science” in their interviews, they grasped at straws to prove the value of their recommendations.
Many have observed that modern science is more akin to a malignant religion (frequently termed “scientism”) than something which follows the scientific process. In other words, rather than determining truth through assembling evidence that proves or disproves competing hypotheses, science has become an institution where scientific authorities (like many religious figures of the past) simply make pronouncements which everyone else is expected to follow.
Given how much money depends upon a commercial interest holding a monopoly on scientific truth, it should come as no surprise that more and more of science has shifted to becoming scientism that only serves to sustain the vested interests which fund it. My favorite authors have utilized a variety of terms to describe this phenomena (e.g., Malcom Kendrick terms it Zombie Science, Pierre Kory often references the Disinformation Playbook).
Many outside commentators have noted that COVID-19 accelerated many of the long-standing issues in our society:
•As Atlas’s experience (along with that of many others) showed, any veneer of considering the evidence within the scientific process was thrown out the window to support the narrative, and it is profoundly sad that the scientific core our nation depends upon was slandered and censored. Similarly, it is almost comical instead that people as unqualified as Birx or Fauci were elevated to scientific sainthood for supporting the narrative. This, in turn, is creating a widespread loss of trust in the institution of science, which to a large extent the cohesion of our society has revolved around for decades.
•Friends who are therapists have shared with me that since COVID-19 started, many healthcare workers have lost faith in the system and are having difficulty continuing their jobs. Some, as you know, have shared concerns over the suppression of treatments for COVID-19, and unsafe vaccinations being forced upon the public. Many have also shared that they are burned out from the additional demands placed on them during the pandemic (extra work or their own vaccine injuries), that staffing shortages are making it impossible for them to provide the bedside care they feel is necessary for their patients, and that it is becoming impossible to ignore how many medical decisions they are forced to follow are driven by profit-seeking rather than serving the best interests of the patients.
Throughout history, a common observation has been that institutions, societies (e.g., empires) build up, plateau, break down, and then either build themselves up again or break apart. This cycle also often coincides with the amount of corruption in society—the periods of decline are mirrored by increasing corruption and debasement of every institution which the society relies upon.
Presently, the United States appears to be in state of institutional decline, and I believe the transformation of our scientific system by the media into a system of blind trust in anointed scientific authorities (whom, as this article has shown, were clearly unqualified for that role) is a perfect illustration of that decline. My fear is that if this trend is not addressed, like many other empires throughout history, the United States will lose its place as the leading superpower, and that the empire that replaces it will most likely be far worse for the citizens of the world.
When you think about that, it’s quite scary what these three [Fauci, Birx and Redfield] decreed became the “science” no one was allowed to question.
It was baffling to me, an incomprehensible error of whoever assembled the Task Force, that there were zero public health policy experts and no experts with medical knowledge who also analyzed economic, social, and other broad public health impacts other than the infection itself. Shockingly, the broad public health perspective was never part of the discussion among the Task Force health advisors other than when I brought it up. Even more bizarre was that no one seemed to notice.
Because of the hatred Atlas received from the media for espousing the need to protect the general public, I believe Newsweek choosing to publish an op-ed by Atlas illustrates a turning point in the current narrative. Atlas, in turn, got straight to the point:
In a democracy, indeed in any ethical and free society, the truth is essential. The American people need to hear the truth—the facts, free from the political distortions, misrepresentations, and censorship. The first step is to clearly state the harsh truth in the starkest possible terms. Lies were told. Those lies harmed the public. Those lies were directly contrary to the evidence, to decades of knowledge on viral pandemics, and to long-established fundamental biology.
None of us are so naïve as to expect a direct apology from critics at my employer, Stanford University, or in government, academic public health, and the media. But to ensure that this never happens again, government leaders, power-driven officials, and influential academics and advisors often harboring conflicts of interest must be held accountable. Personally, I remain highly skeptical that any government investigation or commission can avoid politicization. Regardless of their intention, all such government-run inquiries will at least be perceived as politically motivated and their conclusions will be rejected outright by many. Those investigations must proceed, though, if only to seek the truth, to teach our children that truth matters, and to remember G.K. Chesterton's critical lesson that "Right is right, even if nobody does it. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong about it."
Scott Atlas has been remarkably consistent in his message, and for those interested, a year ago he gave an excellent talk on this same subject for The Academy for Science and Freedom:
Note: a shorter presentation encapsulating the key points of this talk can be viewed here.
Many of you are probably familiar with this meme (tweeted by Elon Musk):
One of the most remarkable aspects of COVID-19 is how the rapid institutional decline we’ve witnessed in science and medicine has caused many with previously respectable professional positions to now be viewed as extremists (and frequently linked to the “far-right”).
A few years ago, I would never have expected to write an article detailing the work of an establishment moderate like Scott Atlas, yet, here I am doing just that because of how far and how fast our society has drifted away from his (previously) extremely reasonable positions.
I personally believe that it is critical to prioritize allowing patients and physicians the freedom to utilize the treatments they believe to be effective, regardless of what commercial interests those treatments threaten. This, I would argue, is because the systemic issues within our healthcare system will persist until therapies that can compete with the present medical monopoly are made available to the public.
However, while I hope the events of the last few years will support increased medical freedom within the United States, I believe Atlas’s much more moderate message (allowing open scientific debate, accurately examining the existing data, and not mandating questionable health policies on the public) is something most of the public can get behind as we move towards holding those responsible for the past three years accountable for their actions.
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P.P.S. I opened a tele-health clinic with a specialized focus on the treatment of both Post-Vaccination injury and Long-Haul Covid syndromes. If anyone needs our help, feel free to visit our website at www.drpierrekory.com.
P.P.P.S. I am so very close to completing my book with the brilliant writer Jenna McCarthy. Pre-order here for: