by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
At a coronavirus-task-force briefing at the beginning of April, White House adviser Jared Kushner explained the approach that would — as events proved — get the country through its ventilator crisis.
He was relentlessly pilloried, mocked, and distorted in the press for it.
After nearly four years of unrelieved Trump hysteria in the media, it’s hard to rank the worst journalistic outrages, but how Kushner’s remarks were misreported and misinterpreted belongs high on the list.
Much of the press coverage and subsequent commentary focused on one sentence at that April 2 briefing: “The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to states’ stockpiles that they then use.”
Cue the outrage. …
… All of this was completely ridiculous and wrong. With even a little context, it was obvious what Kushner was saying: States shouldn’t be drawing on the federal stockpile just to hold ventilators in their own reserves while hard-pressed cities were running low.
This was obvious from the very next sentence from Kushner: “So we’re encouraging the states to make sure that they’re assessing the needs, they’re getting the data from their local — local situations and then trying to fill it with the supplies that we’ve given them.”
The proximate reason for Kushner’s comment about the state stockpiles was a dispute between the Trump administration and New York governor Andrew Cuomo. New York City was running out of ventilators. The administration had sent 4,400 but learned that 2,000 of them were being held by the state and hadn’t made their way to the city.
The controversial sentence was part of a long answer setting out the administration’s strategy on ventilators that has, despite all the hue and cry, clearly worked.
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