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tv   Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta Nightmare Scenario  CSPAN  November 8, 2021 1:39pm-2:44pm EST

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>>. >> student can competition or $100,000 in total cash prizes and you have a shot at winning the grand prize of $5000 . entries must be received before january 20 2022. the competition rules tips for just how to get started is at our >> welcome to get the live, i'm brad graham tobler of politics and prose.we have a very informative program for you this evening. featuring two washington post journalists, yasmine, and damien coletta. here to talk about their new book, nightmare scenario.
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how to compensation so poorly and tragically mismanaged the coronavirus pandemic. a couple of brief housekeeping notes first. as i pose the question at any point, just click on the q&a icon at the bottom of your screen. in chat, you'll find a link for purchasing copies of nightmare scenario. yasmine joins the washington post two years ago as a national reporter. previously she's been with reuters and wrote about healthcare and after moving to the post she continued covering health policy so when the pandemic started last year she was welcome welcome well-positioned to report onthe administration's response from early on . damien established a great reputation in the 2010 covering economic and financial issues in washington for the wallstreet journal . then he joined the post four years ago to focus on white
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house economic policy. a few years ago he was named economic center and also have a background on sources to pursue demonstration bungling of the pandemic. the nightmare scenario damien's attention was to provide the first complete narrative of what really happened inside the trumpet ministration in dealing with the crisis. they interviewed a lot of insiders including members of the white house coronavirus task force . no one they talked to on the task force since their collective response the authors say and no one certainly about their work as a model for future. in general a number of systemic problems can be blamed at least in part for what went wrong. on a problems such as underinvestment in public health resources in this country, the centralized
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healthcare system and the dysfunctionalagencies . the administration itself made their responses so much more ineffectual. often appearing rudderless, conflicted and at war with science. trump himself was more preoccupied with messaging and his own political health than with the health of the nation. the evidence of competence in sensitivity and politicization is truly damning infuriating and nightmarish. in conversation with yasmine and damien is ashley parker who covers the white house. ashley joined the post four years ago after 11 years at the new york times and her reporting on russian interference in the 2016 election is part of the package of post story that won the pulitzer for national reporting in 2018. ashley also frequently appears on nbc news and msnbc
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as a contributor. yasmine damien and ashley take it away.en >> thank you guys for doing this. damien and yasmine and everyone for coming in . you've all preordered the book from politics and prose but here it is . and i said read it. so your book is a great read and all this these questions you guyspointed out for a new answer , harvey just wants to use this hour to have you see you all the amazing anecdotes in your book and i'm not going to do that. but there is one i wanted utto ask you about that has gotten a lot of attention already. basically you report president trump at one point suggested that these cruiseship passengers be sent to guantc -- infected. tells about that. >> this was something that jumped out at us for a couple of reasons.
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one back in february 2020 there was a lot of focus first on that diamond princess cruise shipoff the coast of japan . there were 500 or 600 passengers on the ship. a lot of americans on the ship, elderly americans so they were trying to figure out what to do and how to get them home. there was at the ustime 360,000 people on cruise ships around the world so there's a lot of people on cruise ships . and was constantly in the headlines. the white housesituation room they were talking about this and the president was getting nervous about the idea of shifting these people back to the united states if they were infected . at one point he was in a meeting in the situation room and said we're not bringing them back. i don't want themback . he was focused on the number at the bottom of the television screen on the stock market market and the
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number of people who are sick are 14 or 20 and he didn't want that number goingup . he wanted to put them somewhere and he always thinks out-of-the-box obviously so he came up with this idea of sending them to guantc it but he wasn't kidding . they did what they often did over the years they would say okay, will look into that and get back to you hoping he would forget about it and never bring it up again. sure enough a few days later in the oval office, what's the status of the gitmo move and that's when the kids got together and said we cannot let this happen. this would be a public relations nightmare. we can't send 80-year-olds who are sick to this island where they can't get the best medical care. obviously it was a crazy anecdote and a crazy story but for yasmine and i i think it was a wake-up call that anything that we hear we should run down. anything no matter how unbelievable it seems could have been under consideration
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and could be something that they might have done. i think it was that anecdote that helped propel a lot of the reporting. we need to look into everything. we need to believe anything is possible with this group. because the president comes up with all kinds of things whether he heard it on fox news or from a friend in new york. he was having allkinds of ideas whispered in his ear and a lot of it made it pretty far down the track . >> i know when reporters write in general you'll see an article you've written and there's nothing new about sort of parachuting in in an environment and immersing yourself but i guess i'm curious. what it was like covering a deadly pandemic while you were living it not just as reporters but as citizensand human beings . you have two kids who had
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some sort of nightmarish school situationyasmine, you had family in the area . you have family close, i'm sure you are trying to manage that. what was it like to write about something that you were reporting on but also living? >> that's a great question. i think it's a big emotional pull because it was so much a part of our day today. we get together a lot of the time to brainstorm. we have to do a lot of our interviews over the phone or on zoom . you can always fill that relationship with sources a little bit easier if you're meeting in person and you can build trust that way. we were not able to meet them a lot of times, not able to see their faces and of course we're all stuck at home and scared. for so much of last year we were really scared for our
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families, our parents, our friends living across the country that were getting hit really hard. friends were hearing the stories of how and i wrote a bunch of them with you about how no one who knows who's in charge. and just how off the rails things are so much of the time and it's stressful. it's much more stressful when you're bringing in other aspects so directly. because you're watching the response, seeing things are going well. i think the winter was really hard because at that point you have three, 4000 people a day dying. and i think it just hit home for us how important it was to document what happened and why it happened because i think we were lucky in that we didn't, damien lost his great aunt to coronavirus in
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the middle of all this so it was directly impacting us in that way too but obviously there were people who suffered a lot more than we did. it was hard for us so i think that kind of hit home how important it was to find the unvarnished truth, to get people to talk to you maybe weren't willing to in real time especially after the election so we can better understand what happened . >> i would add to that the remember the first time you walked into a grocery store and everyone was wearing a mask or a run on toilet paper? there was a moment in the middle i guess it was in the spring when my daughter was in the business and we got a call saying that her coronavirus.d the sheer panicof waiting for the test results . we were living this. i think that made us, it wasn't an abstract n'thing. it made us i think even more invested in getting to the bottom of what was happening.
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and it just changed everything. there's somebody people who lost their jobs. businesses stepped out and i think it just made this feels so real and the fact that we felt like we had something to contribute just to investigate and try to unearth, that madeit more personal for us .t >> someone put in the chat thatmy sound was garbled . let me know again and i'll try to rejigger again. if anyone can hear me, you guys spoke with more than 180 people for this book and i'm curious how their stories changed over the course of your reporting. were they more forthcoming after the election, after the inauguration or was it after they realized their colleagues were talkingto you ? >> do you want to start, damien?
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>> it was interesting and it was kind of a moving target there were times during the year when they tried to defend their actions more than after the election . there was a element to a lot of their admits rations which at times was understandable and a lot of us knew what we were dealing with so i think therewere times they felt like they were doing the best they could . obviously the scientists, they were learning as we said on mask send stuff they had no initially way to work. i think in some ways that was understandable but there was a point after the election especially after the inauguration when some of them the spin really began the revisionist history. we were meticulous in our fact checking because so many of the stories concentrated this and we wanted to make sure we did rehearse an
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accurate presentation of these events because theseare events that i think need to be remembered for decades to come . there was a lot of finger-pointing at the end. there was a lot of i did the best i could, the next person was a monster kind of stuff. i think the knives really came out after january 6 when people felt like the administration was burning to the ground. it made it harder for us to keep going back where we felt it wasn't a good place. >> that makes sense. when i was reading your book you made at least one very deliberate choice it seems to me which was begin each chapter with the number of concerns covid cases and deaths. it was incredibly powerful because it reminded me of what you're about to lay out in the next chapter wasn't just unbelievable stories but had some pretty real-world devastating consequences. it's 5.8 million cases in the
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hundred 80,000 deaths and by the time i got to the final chapter we were at 9 million cases and almost 230,000 deaths. so tell me about how you dguys decided to make it seemingly a small decision but again a alquite powerful one. >> i think when we started writing the book we still didn't know the outbreak was going to take so we started last spring and i think we were wondering if things were going to ease up over the summer by the time our book came outit was going to be a distant memory that people didn't want to be with anymore which of course is not what happened . it was actually damien gets credit for that, he was looking at it from the case of an economicperspective . watching the case counts go up dow jones kind of go and crackdown because these the meetings and anecdotes that we document can seemkind of
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abstract or you don't really understand their important . i think it's much more powerful if you're seeing some petty fight for petty rivalry play out and you see the count that whereas several million cases and more than m100,000 deaths and people are still at each other's throats is of some rivalry they have. that's maybe drive some point, a bit more lives on the line and the indecision a lot of the times for the delay in getting things done because they're on the same page have real consequences and like you said i think we found really alarming when we look over the course of the book. we were covering it in real time so we were also watching case to go up and course accelerated in the winter. i think it drives home how important it is and isn't happening atthat point in time . >> i remember writing some of these stories and one of the things we talked about was we write the weekend story but
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we maybe filed a draft floor friday but it's not going to run until sunday and we would leave a blank space for how many americans were dead because we knew when we found the story on friday was posted online on sundayit could pick up a couple thousand . it almost couldn't make sense of it. even leave a space in our story for how many people were going to die in 48 hours. but another big take away i had was that there's a cascade of mistakes. you got a nightmare scenario on almost every level where anything that could go wrong did go wrong. .now having a little more benefit of hindsight and of in-depth reporting and curious. if you could wave a magic c want change one thing about the ministrations handling of the pandemic , what would it be, what would make the biggestdifference . >> i think there was a window from mid-march through the end of march when the country didn't rally together.
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and frankly at the end of ti march the president'sapproval rating was the highest it has ever been . he was doing briefings, he was kind of doing this pop up trump thing which a lot of people like. he was talking through stuff, he was in charge. and birx and fauci were at the peak of their power and the country rally together. it was almost a post-9/11 situation where people were all together in the country. and then the president became obsessed with the idea of reopening. i think a lot of his external economic advisers said this was going to crush him in the election. obviously the layoffs were devastating . and it was an economic mess so he rushed to reopen and then it became this every man for himself set up.
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and then you remember there was a march on the michigan capital. people started getting angry. there were like weapons and government buildings and you could see you could feel the country starting to pull apart and obviously after george floyd the country just exploded so i think there was that time when opportunities were lost. to kind of keep the country together this is hard. this is a crazy virus that had no precedent and it was running from asymptomatic people. there was no easy way to do this. but i think there was that opportunity was lost in that time and then you have the op-ed there's no second way, the denial set in at the end of may and june. and things just really unraveled from their. >> kind of following up on that there was an inflection pointduring the year when the administers and almost made one decision but then ended up doing something else .
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there was a mass debate in march, thepresident getting sick with coronavirus and self . there was this final confrontation and i don't even know if it's in the original reporting between doctor brooks and vice president pass but just walk us through some of those inflection points. >> you have the first few months january and february where they're sort of trying to figure out what they're dealing with and that was really the best opportunity to , it was never going to be conceived the nature of the virus, the nightmare scenario re came from doctor fauci explaining what kind of virus this was. it could spread asymptomatic way, it was respiratory and there eawere such a wide range of infections which made it nharder to treat. but like you said earlier, fit was a nightmare in every way but january and february were the best opportunities to you know, get testing in place and make sure there is adequate contracting and it was always going to spread
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unfortunately people were always going to die no matter who was in charge but if you had think there were countries that were models like south korea and other countries ramped up testing quickly where they never had devastating outbreaks in the way that we did. that was a huge missed opportunity of course we can look into the whole mess with the cdc tests and why they wdidn't go to other companies. that was an inflection point and like you said there was a mass debate in march where there was a proposal and actually already the companies manufacturing masks to send to every american household which gets off the agenda because people are ridiculing the then health secretary alex lazar whose modeling the masks they they were like underwear on your face or training bras and the president chief of staff ksmark short takes up theagenda and says we're not doing this . then you got the summer where cases start ticking back up but that was a good opportunity. >> i want to stop you because there is a question related to that.
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matthew asks who in your view is the primary decision-maker not defend masks to the public? >> tell me if you disagree. i think mark sure was probably the primary decision-maker because he was the one who went to the vice president and said let's take it off the agenda . they were angry because they felt like he the emergency preparedness team who had come up with the idea of freelancing and had gotten approval from the white house . >>... >> .. but of course the president illness, for think it's going ts be attorney and its not in the final confrontation with berks where she bakes the bikes president and tells people to wear a mask for the third
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devastating wave six days after the election, she asked to do this, she figures there's nothing to lose and of course that doesn't happen either so i think we were prettyy stunned by the number of opportunities there were to turn things around. >> i want to stick with the present illness because at thatt timell remember reporting in rel time might emerge i changed man more empathetic, serious, better equipped to have a bite pandemic. that neveratle happened but in r reporting did youid find a momet where it could have, was there someone who almost got through to him from a horse or away he seems like you could have taken an alternate path? why do you think he emerged the same as the other was? >> that's a great question. our reporting found obviously
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was in the white house and he does the long walk across the southland, i'll never forget it it was like a movie walk, it was an amazing moment and at walter reed, we had dan rubino, jared kushner and all of them presidential suite. it is quite, they put him on oxygen and he was given a heavy cocktail of drugs including steroids, it seemed like it jacked up and made him feel like superman. the steroids saved his life but at the samee time they made him think he worked it he almost didn't have a chance to reflect. the weird drive around with the secret service so he couldn't sit still so fauci and redfield
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were in close contact with his doctors, they were checking his condition to make sure heck got the care he needed but by the time didn't know what happened, redfield every step the president took walking back up amanda he was discharged but every step who are praying who acknowledged this was real, we're going to change c course. as soon as he took off the mask, redfield knew it was over. i think the president, a monk from the election, who is obsessed with not losing he said immediately don't be afraid, we can't be afraid, we can beat this investment was over. >> you also described the moment april one trump tweets out liberate referring to liberate minnesota, michigan, virginia. doctor fauci later told you it was a defining moment him.
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rosa smacked in the face waking me up. tell me about that, how did it wake him up and how do you think it changed doctor fauci behavior everythingandle going forward? >> our understanding was he saw it as a place of no return doctors have some influence quite a bit of influence for a few weeks, they convinced him to shut down another 30 days, people were rallying and trying to do the right thing and there was this pitch to reopen even when he would make a decision to undercut it saying we are going to reopen this doesn't work anymore but when he wrote the liberate policing fauci and the other doctors were stunned because it was the most overweight of dividing the country and i think they were like cannot come back from and of course see people in michigan forming the capitol kind of
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broke the country into it was everything, whether you wore a mask or night how much you thought things should reopen or not, there was no middle ground anymore. you are either all in and wore a mask and socially existence and state home or you are over it and believed trump this with an it was time to go back to normal and i think he just thought you can't unite the country after something like that, it's impossible to come back from and what fauci said, he didn't fully appreciate how much trump supporters hung on his every word. i don't think a lot of people fact when he sat back, he knew a lot of people were taken to heart it wasn't going to be something would come back from the president made up his mind about what direction you would move in and see the next few months fauci becomes more outspoken, more blunt and contradictory trump and his aides are saying and is probably
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because he makes the assessment that he's just gorgeous talk to whoever is going to listen to him. >> he and doctor birx came off as two of the most complicated ones in your book and one thing i like about your book, i felt like i got many bios are many magazine file profiles and i learned so much about doctor birx when she was young and competing and science fairs from curious, you agree is an accurate reading the most complex characters in this disaster figures rapidly with different inputs doctor birx is a military person so chain of command is out utmost importance to her about how to back complicate how they responded to the virus?he >> spent so much time talking about doctor birx between the two of us. lily wanted to try to figure her
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out and we talk to people who have known her 40 years they still don't completely understand.. she's an incredibly complicated person. i feel she's a private person, she doesn't really quench the president said that she was sitting behind him he said we need to reopen by easter and she didn't flinch. she sitting here by with the bleach thing and she didn't flinch but we know she was burning inside with at times anger, at times discussed, she put her reputation dissolving before her eyes. she could see the mistakes happening real time. she did not count president publicly, she felt she had more influence on the inside. she also knew she couldne be fid any second so fauci was a little more indestructible politically, she could be fired so we felt
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she didn't tactically have a brilliant move in late march when she publicly praisedub the president and at the 15 day so the spread park was winding down, she tony fauci marched into a meeting saturday night in the yellow oval room which i have never heard of before but it's at the white house in the president was completely on the ropes, one of his best friends was in a, with the coronavirus andat the president could seek e hospital in queens, people playing gurneys in the hallways, he knew the virus was bad because it was all over new york and she brilliantly said the president, that's going to be every hospital in the united states if you reopen it was a genius things to say to him he said okay will extend it for 30 days. in that moment, she played her role perfectly but that only
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lasted a moment and then pretty soon as soon as the aides got her away from him, he was itching to reopen again and then we saw a slow reputation instruction of doctor birx which ended the picture in late july and august, she was treated differently than tony fauci, he was a bobble head. >> on 14th street. >> exactly. signs on people yards and the house speaker went after deborah birx, it was incredible the way she was treated so we tried to portray her as a three-dimensional person who's very complicated to be understood better. her role, we thought it was covu
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realize just about everyone in his orbit atth some time or another has a conversation with a partner or friend or with themselves fauci, like just about 90% of people trump world makes the decision to stay. people do not for all sorts of reasons, doctor birx also kind of have a internal question as well. what you understand their reasons for staying and also how does the choice back everyone trump world for better or worse justify to themselves by the belief they need to remain in the orbit? >> i think you know better than any of us most of the time people justify to themselves they are protecting the worst from happening. when you're watching from the
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outside like what you mean? all this awful stuff is happening and iom think when you learn about an incident i can proposing people go to guantánamo bay and there like i kept that from happening and i think one of thehe things we wee struck by we tried to piece together how things got to where they did at t the end of figure was that a people ask for something so crazy, and i did give them the craziest things they wanted but i did have to give an inch to get them off my back and thenoo it got worse and worse as soon as you open that door. that moment with doctor fauci, i think one of the things that's important to explain one thing for excited about reporting this book was that he looked at their relationship because they make their b careers hiv-aids activis how them to account in the aides 90s when aids was a pandemic and they felt the government
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didn't care and work doing enough maintain close relationship 30 and 40 years someone catered public him around from the activists turn their attention to covid activism they figure we got an open line fauci, not so much to brooks anymore she went to the white house but what happens is an activist is very close to fauci, if you remember, the white house put out a list for they said we are concerned about the number of times he's been wrong came from the official white house communications office. >> i was going to be one my question talk from and about just how unusual is it for an thenistration to do it on record on their public health official. >> i think you're probably in a better position to answer that but it was crazy because when you do stories about
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relationship between the president and one of them they put out a t generic statement le this is a trust department and while they might haveey disagreements, they are here to protect america at the end of the day. instead, they sent a list that was like we are concerned about the number of times been wrong and they pick off a dozen instances collectively quote peter, the activists called fauci and he's talking to him on a regular basis a couple times a week and he says what are you doing parts are you still there, what difference are you even making parts last him where you have influence, where are you making a difference? fauci think it is time to think about leaving? missus insane and it resonates on up with fauci he goes to his wife, his most trusted advisor and see what she thinks. he doesn't really want to leave but he still feels he can make a difference through his media appearance.
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he talked to his wife and they ultimately set the white house has become toxic but they ultimately decide to stay because otherwise there's not going to be that strong voice pushing back against misstatements on the white house. there might have been people who thought they were doing what they quit behind the scenes , no one was doing what he was doing publicly and they felt like he would lose the microphone if he doesn't stay as the task force. >> it was clear in retrospect, crystal-clear but trump was obsessed with fauci. he was obsessed with him and they were for opposites. one is big, one is little, one has a history of an anti- vaccine they are both from new york and remember when fauci on the opening-day pitch trump is like i'm going out at yankee stadium this obsessed and there was a scene in the book early
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august when trump calls brooks and fauci and others into the oval office and says every timei you open your mouth and then he garza factor, i spent half my day answering questions about tony fauci, i'm the president of the united states. it's like here we go he was obsessed with this guy and he couldn't fire him so there is that weird stance he continued throughout the year, right before the election the presidentey thomas to fire him ended up becoming so obsessed overturning the results he never got around to it. >> that is a silver lining indeed. one question, in your performance you recount a fight between the cdc and office of management and budget for the office of management and budget tries to weigh in on the guidelines to give a specific instance where they try to
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define what social distancing means for restaurants and in this example, the cdc has this political pressure growing up in the area, i sort of always understood the cdc to be a political agency in a superpower teamic so i'm curious, how does the cdc come back from something like this both institutionally with the relationship with the white house and the public potentially view them in a different way. >> that's so important something we are continuing to cover how the cdc rebuild itself and how they regain the country's trust and they are still not there. an ongoingto be process, it was so batter cashier came to their knees in a way that stuns everyone especially public health scientists who rely on the
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agency. one important thing about the cdc that makes the heart is it's not a regulatory agency without guidance but it's like advice they don't have anye power to enforce their pride bites. people rely on them because there supposed to have up-to-datemo science and one of the biggest disasters last year was because the white house so involved in the guidance which is notot super unusual when you are dealing with something with big implications of charting schools or when to reopen schools or businesses in the white house is going to wait and because it's a multidimensional problem but the degree to which they waiting and the nitty-gritty was so unprecedented, despite we set about social distancing meant and restaurants, they didn't want to space bar table 6 feet apart because it meant you had to lower capacity in the economm wouldn't come back so people saw
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this and the agency and get guidance out on time instead of having something to rely on and build on what made sense to them for their transmission rate, it was like 50 different reopening plants which was a disaster and sometimes you can learn from, it works well here and maybe not so well here but the way it happened was so scattered and disorganized there was no way to look at what was working ands what wasn't it was a disaster and i think it's going to take a long time to rebuild trust. the only political appointee there is the director, everyone else is a career scientist or career official but even with that, you saw the agency get totally batter and it probably drives home the importance of the leadership, it's not all on the director. they overcorrect for what happens. you can see the difficult problem to solve, you can say
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you follow the signs but it doesn't always work because with something like this, is not science you have to take into account. >> i have a bunch more questions but i see questions pilingg up, i'm going to ask tomorrow and then i will turn to audience questions. if you have a question, put it in the queue and i now try to look for that. i'd love for each of you to take a crack at these questions, without coronavirus from you think trump would have won reelection? >> i think he would have, yes. >> who knows how the rest of the airport have played out but january and february survived impeachment and the economy was doing really well democrats were in disarray and it's hard to remember i will primary for such a disaster. there is looking pretty unstoppable i think. even with coronavirus, it still wasn't as good on margin i think. >> last question before i go to questions what lessons would you
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impart to us future administration properly but that the pandemic? >> i talked so much about pleasant work for the end of the book and obviously there's a lot of things that needed to be done in terms of updating the stockpile and research and development but at the end of the day the most important thing is honesty. if the public trust you they will give you the benefit of the doubt and they will let you the public will lead what you're saying. there is so much conflicting information coming out of the government the people decided they had to leave one side or the other. eventually it doesn't work when half the country believes one
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person and half the country believes the other and there is a that the virus that doesn't have a political party, that was the most dangerous thing so the lesson learned is being honest it's not always popular but helped at the beginning especially. >> i completely agree, there are more systemic issues with policy experts andis epidemiologists tk about what the country needs at that level but at the political level, i think so much could have been prevented they would level with the public and be honest and don't have different like mass and how to protect yourself and your family, it was all over the place. i also think independent of come from another big lesson is you have to be willing to move fast and do things differently outside of the white house there were some decisions that were
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way too slow because they are used to being able to have academic signs and the perfect political trial and perfect data and i think they learned the hard way that it's impossible in a situation like this from your going to always be outmatched by the morris. >> there are 11 questions but only a fewut minutes left so we will see how many questions we can get through. how much of the coronavirus response was driven by the ideology of political appointees in the trump administration given that many conservatives reach a small federal government? >> it was a huge issue initially, one of the first scenes in the book is the debate in the situation about shutting down flights from china and there was a real reticence especially from like mick mulvaney and others to haves a government interfere with trade and commerce. they thought people were scaredy-cat's and they shouldn't be listened to so s there was a commission and a whole
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libertarian argument about mass wearing constitutional rights and not have the government dictate that sort of thing so that did playy a big role. the president wanted to downplay this because he was afraid of political repercussions and there were times when he would overcorrect and say i can tell the states what to do, i am in charge, this superis federalism idea republican's were people with so politics drove a lot of this. >> did your reporting indicate trump had any concern for the help the american people or was it all a political calculation? >> we don't resume like we know everything we know he was thinking from what we could gather, it was politically focused public relations office, i think the outburst is a good
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example where it's the way they are talking about it is the problem, not the fact that the virus even when he gets sick, he gets upset because the day after the white house event which ended up being a super spreader event, he tells his staff you are letting people get too close to me, if one of these people are sick, i'm going to get sick and disregarding he pending the number of instances he got sick but he's not so concerned about others safety,ab he's concerned about his own vulnerability so a lot of what we understand about this in general, to. >> what was the role of the political side of the white house? it appears every decision made atho this. >> i could think of one incident in particular there was ak meeting in the oval in july with
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his campaign staff and they were talking about mass jason miller and another camping advisor for ersaying the polling unmasks for republican is not bad. if you have a mask mandate, 80% of republicans fine with it, they want the economy to reopen. krishna was in favor, he thought i was a no-brainer but mark meadows said absolutely not, people will go bananas the president agreed with meadows so ipr think the president thought meadows had ath good sense of wt the base would go for. the beginning of one reason alex azar out-of-favor, he tried to almost we weretr trump fannie e cigarettes sleeping in the basement berserk over that
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pretty is attuned to policy changes and how they would affect the base and a lot of times he ended up bending in whatever direction they wanted. >> this is from chris there, how optimistic are you about our ability to combat the virus over the long term with the dangerous variance that keep on emerging stalling u.s. vaccination rate? what might hamper success and what stands in the way? >> that is a great question. obviously the country is in a much better place with the vaccine and vaccines have been shown to be highly effective against the variance so far but with the delta variant especially in the country where they have less than 30 or 40% vaccinated, about will be aci bg problem in health officials anticipate outbreaks in theou fl the tricky thing is, the coronavirus is a highly efficient virus so the more it can spread even if your vaccinated, people are infected,
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it's going to keep mutating because we've seen over the last year, here in the hospital the variance keep coming about they are not necessarily more deadly but more transmissible than what was circulating no one can relax and put their guard a down and they are alreay talking about reimplementation mask mandate the next couple monthsas so there is reason to e hopeful but i think the low case of vaccination and parts of the country cause for concern and does me more transmissible forms of the virus popping up. >> this is from george. i'm going to guess you don't necessarily have an answer but i'm going to askis anyhow during late spring off 2020, was preset trump doing trench work to maintain his relationship with vladimir putin as a pandemic began to spread? >> pass. [laughter]
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>> that's outside of my area. >> this is from jerry, in reporting, did you research what the obamama administration has r their pandemic plan trump administration either ignored or recommended? for shorter version, how much time might have been lost because they didn't have existing -- >> that's a great question. a few days before trump was inaugurated, there's a meeting in the executive office with essentially all of obama's cabinet allg of trump's incomig cabinet. it's a tradition is started a couple administrations beforeoo and they walked through various catastrophic events to prepare the new cabinet how to respond so what i think was an active shooter on the college campus, one was a tornado or hurricane or something and how to respond and third was a respiratory,
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like a flute. someone shared with me a photograph of everyone in the room sitting at a table, mike flynn, mattis, all of these people, mick mulvaney and what was striking was almost all of those people were gone when the pandemic came. so many -- tom price the house secretary lasted like a year. i don't even know if they weree paying attention during the briefing for so many of the people in the trump and obama ministration tried tobr help her gone by thehe beginning of year four when the pandemic happened so they never even have the playbook even though trump played out the playbook but they never even have the conversationse to know the questions to ask and who to call. >> that reminds of this amazing photo of everyone getting sworn in, taking a pledge inauguration
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day and as we go into her office, he would see each person whited out, she didn'tse literay ride it out but no longer in the white house, no longer in the white house. the last man standing, i hadn't thought about that. this is from rj i can. the republican party has tried to doctor fauci as a bogeyman to motivate voters, how much damage do you think this does in the coronavirus response? >> i think it does a lot of damage. he's the president's chief medical advisor. still on tv all the time trying to tell theti country what to do but i thinkl you can see the damage his approval ratings were high last year end youma can see ratings taking a dip because the conspiracy theories about him eight toward him was confined last year part of the republican party become way more widespread.
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tucker carlson on his show calls for him to be criminally investigate over what, i'm not sure. at the rally over the weekend, marjorie taylor queen, trying to lock him up, it's gotten really bad. it's kind of unbelievable how much they fixated on him all because he was inconsistent on masks like more than a year ago now. i think it did a lot of damage because he is one of the most prominent scientists in the country, obviously not the only one, there's a lot of great scientists out there but because he's so visible and people associatee him so much with both governments responses, if you are feeling rising him like that but i think it overall brings down a lot of trust in science and scientists generally. you cane see scientists on twitter all the time getting harassed. if they talk about anything that's controversial. >> this is from jerry.
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do you think anyone from the administration will be held accountable for the 400,000 plus avoidable coronavirus deaths? >> that's a tough question. one of the things that compelled us to do the book was we knew there had to be journalistic accountability for what happened last year. after 9/11, there's a 9/11 commission where they went through everything right a big report about what happened and it appears like there will be nothing like that after this, one of thehe biggest catastrophs in american history so we felt it was important to hold people accountable, there were this many deaths and there t were a t of innocent victims who never even got to say goodbye to the families who died alone in the bed with a nurse raising their hand so we felt we owed it to people to get to the bottom office and i guess let you sort out the rest and that's one thing that kept us going.
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>> there are three more questions in there chat i thinke can get through them. saying she thinks trump received regeneron while he was in the hospital her question is, did you report from his doctors and hospitals and staff suggesting it was a steroid that helped them rather than regeneron? will also add, there is this amazing scene for the fda commissioner it's a frantic phone call from the white house so the agency can sign off compassionateas use antibiotic treatment as soon as humanly possible if it turns out is on behalf of president trump to her question about regeneron steroids and curious about the back story on antibiotic. >> he did get regeneron. at the time it was an experimental drug it hasn't been
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authorized for use yet so that's why they called the fda commissioner and ask for the authorization. the fda has to provide it within 24 hours. they don't the patient name, it can be anonymized but they do need their medical history and drugs they are on to make sure whatever drugs they sign off on his according to react adversely with something they are already on or exacerbate an underlying condition they might have to the white house calls and says can you do this in a few hours? he goes to the career officials and they don't know it trump yet but they said no, we need to go by the book on this. the white house wants to cut corners and speed up and when he realizes for trump he says you want us to cut corners for the president? that's insane. one of the people we talk to the meeting with trump's condition set they were almost positive it was the antibody responsible for his quick turnaround because
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it's one of these t drugs were f you get it early in the course of infection, it can be highly foeffective. we don't know for sure but it did seemed like a steroid jacked him up for the return to the white house the walk up the steps and ripping off the mask it definitely gave him a burst of energy of the people we talked to who knew about his medical condition and information set they thought it was regeneron that turned him around. >> clearly some checks and balances implementmp it, whose role is not, is that congressional oversight, what restructuring shouldng occur? should the cdc people out of hhs? >> it probably all needs to be modernized. one of the benefits of doing a review to see what worked and what didn't so when you have these agencies, you had to help secretary azor who didn't really
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have the respect of the agencies, the leaders at the fda and elsewhere, it's a bad set up for something like that. whether that means organize agencies different or make sure they had a good working relationship, i'm not sure but there needs to be some bureaucratic soul-searching before the next time this happens because it will happen again. i think the sooner they have to opposition, for better. >> i think a lot of people with congressional oversight report they can get access to all sorts of information, it doesn't seemed like it's going to happen right now. >> why won't that happen? >> i think it's a dark spot for the republican party. it's obviously not well it a huge reason for president lost the election and i think it would probably reflect poorly on a lot of them are much more of them couldn't speak up on masks or against some of the
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presidents statements that were misleading or not true, i think there's a lot of people who would come off pretty poorly in a review like that and obviously a disaster and that inherently makes it very political. sorry, an emergency flood alert. we are going to take a final question for nancy and fenn damien and then we will be done. did your reporting indicate mark sure, meadows and mulvaney, the wholelv crew, did they have any regrets about their roles during the crisis? i have a final question for damien. >> that's a great question, we found some instances where mulvaney for the short period of time at the beginning of the year, he said something publicly that's with and not in line with what they were feeling
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radically, they want to do get trump to get more serious and he did say you think you're running on the economy and you are not and i was february, early march. it's hard to say for people like mark meadows, their approach was in line with their general belief and approach to government the government shouldn't have a heavy hand in these things and it should be up to people to decide in the pink they probably not change their minds how they felt about masks or mask mandate, they feel it's an individual choice and not something imposed by the government. we know from our reporting throughout the year theyan thout a lot of this was overblown and the doctors were advising things that were too draconian. >> i have been told that damien has a cheesy story how he always
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wanted to write a book since he was a little kid and now that your dream has been realized from i was wondering if you could share withh us. >> thank you. when i was 12 or 13, i was on an airplane for some reason there was a stranger sitting next to me and i was reading a book and he was talking to me what's your favorite bookmarks i told him at the time of my favorite book was a book called there's a war in the girls bathroom, he wrote holes. we walk off the plane and we got, he said i am the author of that book so as a kid -- >> was actually true? >> yes, it's true. i wrote him a letter from my son was reading louis patrick and i set all my gosh. so meeting in author as a kid and we are sitting there with normal people like think what wt
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it was they come to us. i have an economic background, she has a policy background, it was i think a great pairing for the crisis we face so i have but experience almost years ago as a kid reading a famous author we were able get the book on our own terms i think that made almost ari better experience for us. >> i will say, i loved the book and i'm so glad you did it but i'm also glad to have you both back post.
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>> we are glad to have you. >> that wasn't a cheesy story, was wonderfully inspiring. rate monitoring, ashley. there is so much detail your book, lead a rich foundation to help us all determine accountability and your story shows that leadership really counts in a crisis this pandemic was lacking at the national level so let's hope the right lessons get learned next line many more lives are saved. to everyone watching from a thank you for tuning in. >> with the senate out of session, so i got off this week for stevie's tuesday, resentful festival for the author marcia chapman on her book franchise.
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the seven festival of books on his relief. the national book festival, a country fight against the drug companies that deliver the opioid epidemic. 8:00 p.m. eastern c-span2. you could access our programs online have ♪♪ >> stay up-to-date on the latest in publishing workbook tvs new podcast, about books. latest nonfiction reliefs. confined all of our podcast on c-span now app or wherever you get your podcasts. you could watch about books sunday 7:30 p.m. on book tv on c-span2 put her on my anytime at ♪♪
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♪♪ ♪♪ >> hi, welcome, thank you for tuning in my name is audrey and i'm behalf of our bookstore, i am so excited to offer you two tonight discussing their joint book from a history and future. their joint tonight by


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