A Young Kennedy, in Kushnerland, Turned Whistle-Blower - 2020-09-21
Kennedy believes that the Administration relied on volunteers in order to sidestep government experts and thereby "control the narrative." He said that Brad Smith, one of the political appointees who directed the task force, pressured him to create a model fudging the projected number of fatalities; Smith wanted the model to predict a high of a hundred thousand U.S. deaths, claiming that the experts' models were "too severe." Kennedy said that he told Smith, "I don't know the first thing about disease modelling," and declined the assignment. (A spokesman said that Smith did not recall the conversation.) To date, nearly two hundred thousand Americans have died.
The volunteers were also instructed to prioritize requests from the President's friends and supporters. According to Kennedy, the group paid special attention to Jeanine Pirro, the Fox News personality. Pirro, Kennedy said, was "particularly aggressive," and demanded that masks be shipped to a hospital she favored. The volunteers were also told to direct millions of dollars' worth of supplies to only five preselected distributors. Kennedy was asked to draft a justification for this decision, but refused. "Hundreds of people were sending e-mails every day offering P.P.E.," he said, but no one in charge responded effectively. "We were super frustrated we couldn't get the government to do more."
In the end, the task force failed to procure enough equipment, leaving medical workers, including Kennedy's cousin, to improvise by wearing garbage bags and makeshift or pre-worn masks. States were left to fend for themselves, bidding against one another for scarce supplies. Kennedy was disgusted to see that the political appointees who supervised him were hailing Trump as "a marketing genius," because, Kennedy said they'd told him, "he personally came up with the strategy of blaming the states." The response was in line with what Kennedy calls the White House mantra: that government doesn't work, and "that the worst thing we could do was step on the toes of the private sector."