Washington Public relations firms hired by the Department of Health and Human Services examined the political opinions of hundreds of celebrities for a health education advertising campaign in India Coronavirus outbreakAccording to documents released Thursday by a House committee.
None of the celebrities agreed to participate – they may not have known they were screened – and the campaign has been put on hold while the government is reviewing its effectiveness.
Director Judd Apatow believes President Donald Trump “does not have the intellectual capacity to run for president,” according to a list of more than 200 celebrities compiled by a company. The list says singer Christina Aguilera is “a pro-Obama democracy and liberal gay rights advocate”, and actor Jack Black is “known as a classic Hollywood liberal.” The documents state that comedian George Lopez’s public service announcement “has not moved forward due to previous concerns about his comments on the president.”
The names were among the spreadsheets, notes, memos, and other documents from September and October issued by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
The companies’ vetting came as political appointees planned to spend more than $ 250 million on a confidence-building campaign around the virus, which has led to More than 227,000 people were killed in the United States and he Core issue in the presidential race Between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. While government public health campaigns are routine, the ad campaign planned by HHS has been overwhelmed from the start by the participation of Ministry spokesman Michael CaputoHe is a fierce loyalist and friend of Trump with little experience in the business. In September, a Kabuto spokesperson said he is taking Medical leave from HHS while battling cancer.
Trump the Republican has repeated it over and over Reducing the risks of the CoronavirusEven if the nation is in it The third wave of infections, With Tens of thousands of cases are reported every day.
According to a note compiled by a subcontractor for Atlas Research, one of the companies hired by HHS, Caputo suggested a series of podcasts and taglines for the campaign, including “helping the president will help the country.” The notes indicate that Caputo wanted the campaign to be “cool” and to rival WWII icon Rosie the Riveter, who he said helped pit the United States against Germany.
According to the memo, Kabuto said: “For us, the ‘enemy’ is the virus.”
The documents also show opposition from some federal employees leading the business, who removed Caputo from an email chain and thanked a contractor for handling a “tough” environment.
The Democrat-led oversight committee said Kabuto was going too far, interfering with the work that contract officers in the ministry were supposed to do and politicizing what was supposed to be nonpartisan.
“Of course, it is absolutely inappropriate to frame a taxpayer-funded advertising campaign about“ assisting ”President Trump in the weeks and days leading up to the election, said House Oversight Chief Caroline Maloney, DNY, and Representatives James Kleburn of South Carolina and Raja Krishnamurthy of Illinois, Both are Chairs of the Subcommittees, in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “This topic also ignores the fact that more than 220,000 Americans have died from the Coronavirus – a fact that should not be bleached into a legitimate public health message.”
Azar suspended the entire project earlier this month, telling the Oversight Subcommittee led by Cleburne that it was being investigated internally.
“I have ordered a strategic review of this public health education campaign that will be led by senior public health and communications experts to determine whether the campaign serves important public health purposes,” Azar told the subcommittee investigating the matter. Federal government response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
As public health policy around the coronavirus pandemic has become so politically polarized, it is unclear how good the confidence building campaign by the government will be.
HHS officials acknowledge that the main challenge of any campaign may involve finding reliable middlemen to make the playing field for ordinary Americans. On healthcare matters, people usually trust doctors first, not necessarily celebrities. Trump alienated many medical institutions with his dismissive comments about basic public health measures, such as Wearing masks.
The 34-page “PSA Celebrity Tracker” compiled by Atlas Research and released by the panel does not mention whether the celebrities were aware that they were being considered or whether they agreed to participate. The report says that there are no celebrities now affiliated with the project but few initially agreed to participate.
Singer Marc Anthony, a critic of Trump, withdrew after seeking to amend his contract “to ensure that his content is not used in ads for President Trump’s re-election.”
Actor Dennis Quaid also initially agreed and then withdrew, according to an Atlas Research document. In an Instagram video last month titled “There is no good work without politicization,” Quaid said he was frustrated that he had a recorded interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, in which the campaign was portrayed in the media as endorsing Trump.
“Nothing is further from the truth,” Quaid said, indicating that the interview was still available on his podcast.
Anthony and Coyd were among the few celebrities approved for the campaign, according to the documents. Others include television health commentator Dr. Oz and singer Billy Ray Cyrus.
The letter from Democrats said: “Public service spokespersons should be chosen based on their ability to reach the target audience, not political affiliation.” However, documents submitted by the contractors indicate that the Trump administration vetted spokespersons based on their political positions and whether they support President Trump.
Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.
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