Those Damn Emails

Good morning, and happy Friday. Yesterday’s quote was President Biden’s declaration that blacks can’t get ahead because they do not hire accountants. Today Trump pulls down his blog; JAMA fires an editor without evidence of wrongdoing; and Fauci’s emails were released under FOIA.

Comments made in the podcast were inaccurate, offensive, hurtful, and inconsistent with the standards of JAMA. Racism and structural racism exist in the US and in health care. After careful consideration, I determined that the harms caused by the podcast outweighed any reason for the podcast to remain available on the JAMA Network.

Culture

That was quick. Months after his abrupt bans from all social media platforms, former President Donald Trump created a new ‘social media’ site. In truth, it was more an extension of his personal website to post whatever thoughts came into his head throughout the day. Just weeks after its inauguration, his personal blog, From the Desk of Donald J. Trump, is permanently removed and will not be returning, according to his senior aide Jason Miller.

Media Spotlight

Although academic journals are not typically the subject of this section, the Journal of the American Medical Association deserves a mention. Editor-in-chief Howard Bauchner was forced to step down following a February 24 podcast titled “Structural Racism for Doctors – What Is It?” In it, Bauchner said, “Personally, I think taking racism out of the conversation will help. Many people like myself are offended by the implication that we are somehow racist.” He later went online to post: “No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in health care?” Without any evidence to the contrary, he was fired for these comments.

Here are some remarkable headlines on the issue:

United States

Thank God for FOIA. BuzzFeed used it to publish thousands of emails involving Anthony Fauci, head of the NIAID, and Francis Collins, the head of NIH. They expose the fact that top doctors knew, both then and now, that what they said so confidently in public were at least debatable questions, if not outright falsehoods. For instance, an email sent by Fauci on February 5, 2020, advised against drug-store masks because those are “not really effective in keeping out virus [sic] which is small enough to pass through the material.” He’d go on to 60 Minutes that weekend to confirm as much, noting that masks may cause active harm to the community. But he did an about-face just a few weeks later, claiming that he never told the public that masks wouldn’t help, only that they shouldn’t buy them—ostensibly to get the masks to front-line workers. But there is no evidence of any attempt to streamline mask production to the hands of those medical professionals, raising further questions of his sincerity both then and now.

Fauci’s emails are riddled with careful redactions and no smoking-gun incriminations. But whether this is reason to #firefauci or an overwhelmed bureaucrat failing under pressure is far from settled science.

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