Government website altered to match odd political talking points

Reality said Jared Kushner was wrong, so it appears reality had to be changed to make the president's son-in-law right.
Image: Dept of Health & Human Services
The Department of Health and Human Services building in Washington on April 5, 2009.Alex Brandon / AP file

Even for this White House, it seemed like an odd thing to say. Jared Kushner, speaking at a coronavirus briefing, suggested that medical supplies owned by the federal government aren't necessarily for state use. "[T]he notion of the federal stockpile was it's supposed to be our stockpile. It's not supposed to be states' stockpiles that they then use," the young presidential son-in-law told reporters.

It didn't take much sleuthing to debunk Kushner's claim. After all, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a website that explicitly says the role of the Strategic National Stockpile is intended to be used by state, local, tribal, and territorial responders who "request federal assistance."

So, the White House apologized for Kushner's error? No, as Laura Bassett discovered, Team Trump appears instead to have changed the website. Here's what the official site describing the Strategic National Stockpile said as of last night:

"Strategic National Stockpile is the nation's largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out. When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency. Organized for scalable response to a variety of public health threats, this repository contains enough supplies to respond to multiple large-scale emergencies simultaneously."

And here's what it was changed to say this morning:

"The Strategic National Stockpile's role is to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies. Many states have products stockpiled, as well. The supplies, medicines, and devices for life-saving care contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term stopgap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of these materials may not be immediately available."

Reality said Jared Kushner was wrong, so it appears reality had to be changed to make the president's son-in-law right.

I should note that an HHS spokesperson acknowledged the change, but told Politico that these online edits to the stockpile's webpage "had been in the works prior to Kushner's remarks Thursday."

We are, in other words, supposed to believe this was just a remarkable coincidence. Given Team Trump's capacity for gaslighting, it's hardly unreasonable to think some skepticism is in order.