Debate commission co-chair defends virtual move after Trump pulls out: ‘We will be guided by the medicine’

Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf has defended the organization’s decision to move the second presidential debate, slated for Oct. 15, to a virtual setting after President Trump dismissed the idea as a “waste” of time. 

“We looked at this thing very, very carefully, and as I have said many times in this particular cycle, we will be guided by the medicine,”  Fahrenkopf said Thursday on “The Story.”

“We will be guided by those people advising us, we are not doctors. And as you know, the Cleveland Clinic has been advising us throughout. They went along with this decision.

The CPD announced early Thursday that “the second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which the candidates would participate from separate remote locations.” Steve Scully of C-SPAN is still set to moderate from Miami.

TRUMP SAYS HE’S ‘NOT GOING TO WASTE’ HIS TIME ON VIRTUAL DEBATE

Fahrenkopf told host Martha MacCallum there were “just too many questions as to whether or not we could present this with many, many people who would be present in Miami who would be vulnerable.”

The format change was announced six days after the president announced he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. The positive test came a little more than 48 hours after the first debate between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The CPD decision was driven “not only [by] his [Trump’s] diagnosis and what happened in Cleveland but what’s happened in the White House in the last week or so [with] so many people having to be tested and quarantined,” Fahrenkopf explained.

TRUMP ADVISER BLASTS DEBATE COMMISSION AS ‘CORRUPT, COMPLICIT SWAP CABAL’

“We have 65 people who work and build these sets and so forth and in a town hall meeting we have people there. We want to make sure that everyone is safe and we will … not take a chance. That’s why we decided if we were going to have this, we had to do it virtually to make sure everyone was safe.”

Trump told Fox Business Netowrk’s Maria Bartiromo earlier Thursday that he will not “waste my time” in a virtual debate, and called the idea of sitting “at a computer” to debate his 2020 challenger “ridiculous.”

Fahrenkopf told MacCallum, however, that the president may have misunderstood the conditions of the updated virtual setting.

“The president said, ‘You don’t want that kind of debate where you’re sitting in front of a computer.’ You’re not,” he explained. “The provisions were they would sit wherever they wanted to – the president could do it from the Oval Office. There would be press people present, also with Biden, people there to make sure he wasn’t reading off a teleprompter.

“I think the president wasn’t properly briefed as to what we’re talking about when we’re talking about a virtual debate,” he said.

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When asked whether a new statement from White House physician Dr. Sean

New England Journal of Medicine calls for US leadership to be voted out over Covid-19 failure

In an unprecedented move, the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday published an editorial written by its editors condemning the Trump administration for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic — and calling for the current leadership in the United States to be voted out of office.



Donald Trump looking at the camera: U.S. President Donald Trump leads a meeting with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and pharmaceutical executives in Cabinet Room of the White House on March 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump and his Coronavirus Task Force team met with pharmaceutical companies representatives who are actively working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.


© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump leads a meeting with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and pharmaceutical executives in Cabinet Room of the White House on March 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump and his Coronavirus Task Force team met with pharmaceutical companies representatives who are actively working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We rarely publish editorials signed by all the editors,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, editor-in-chief of the medical journal and an author of the new editorial.

The editorial, which Rubin said was drafted in August, details how the United States leads the world in Covid-19 cases and deaths. So far, more than 7.5 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and more than 200,000 people have died of the disease.

“This crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy,” the editorial says.

It does not endorse a candidate, but offers a scathing critique of the Trump administration’s leadership during the pandemic.

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“Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment,” the editorial says. “When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

The New England Journal of Medicine began publishing in 1812. There have been only four previous editorials collectively signed by its editors in the recent past: one in 2014 about contraception; an obituary that same year for a former editor-in-chief; an editorial that year about standard-of-care research and an editorial in 2019 about abortion.

“The reason we’ve never published an editorial about elections is we’re not a political journal and I don’t think that we want to be a political journal — but the issue here is around fact, not around opinion. There have been many mistakes made that were not only foolish but reckless and I think we want people to realize that there are truths here, not just opinions,” Rubin said.

“For example, masks work. Social distancing works. Quarantine and isolation work. They’re not opinions. Deciding not to use them is

With new drug pricing order, Trump flirts with socialized medicine

President Trump’s recent executive order on drug prices gets almost everything right — except the solution. Ironically, that solution moves the United States toward socialized medicine, which the president vociferously opposes.

The order says, “Americans pay more per capita for prescription drugs than residents of any other developed country.” That’s certainly true for most brand name drugs, though Americans typically pay much less for generic drugs, which account for about 90 percent of all U.S. prescriptions — a fact often ignored in the health policy debates.

The EO is also correct that “Americans pay more for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same places.” As a result, Americans “finance much of the biopharmaceutical innovation that the world depends on.” 

But Trump’s executive order won’t fix these problems. It will only make it as hard for American patients to obtain the newest, cutting-edge drugs as it is for many patients in foreign countries the president wants to emulate. 

The order forbids Medicare from paying more for drugs than the lowest price available in any member country of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), after adjusting for per-capita income. Trump calls it a “most-favored-nation price.” 

The order claims those nations enjoy low drug prices because they “negotiate” with pharmaceutical manufacturers. But what the order describes as a negotiation is more akin to a hostage-taking — with their own citizens held for ransom. 

Bureaucrats in those nations’ systems – most of which are largely or completely controlled by the government – often refuse to cover drugs unless manufacturers sell the medicines far below fair-market prices. 

In Canada, for example, just 46 percent of new drugs approved worldwide between 2011 and 2018 are actually available to Canadian patients. And the average delay between approval and availability in Canada is 15 months. In the United Kingdom, it’s 59 percent and 18 months.

But in the United States it’s 87 percent and three months or less.

Those are months – and in some countries, years – that patients go without access to the newest treatments. Some drugs are never made available. 

The U.S. government doesn’t treat its people so callously — or at least it hasn’t. Medicare covers virtually every FDA-approved medicine, and it sets reimbursements based on prices in the commercial market. This market-based pricing ensures that the newest drugs are available and doctors, not government gatekeepers, decide which drugs to prescribe. 

It’s a shame that the president has adopted other countries’ socialized medicine prices because he so often criticizes foreign freeloading. 

Recall that when Trump took office, he saw that our NATO allies were not paying their fair share toward the alliance’s mutual defense, even though the members had for years committed to raising their defense spending to at least 2 percent of GDP to support the alliance. 

Trump did not respond to this inequity by swearing the United States would only spend as much as our stingiest ally. Instead, he called them out publicly and exhorted our allies

New England Journal of Medicine publishes first election stance in anti-Trump editorial

“Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions,” said the piece, which was signed by 34 of the journal’s editors. “But this election gives us the power to render judgment.”

The journal has only published four other editorials signed by all the editors, including an obituary for longtime editor in chief Arnold S. Relman, who died in 2014. The three others, published in 2014 and 2019, tackled contraception access, abortion policy and draft guidance from the federal government on informed consent requirements in standard-of-care research. Never before have the journal’s editors collectively weighed in on an election, let alone a presidential race.

The coronavirus, which has now killed at least 211,000 Americans, changed that. Wednesday’s editorial argued that national leaders had the opportunity to limit the virus’s spread and prevent widespread illness, deaths and lasting economic turmoil.

“Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test,” the editorial said. “They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The U.S. “leads the world in Covid-19 cases and in deaths due to the disease,” the editorial says. Its infection and death rates have outstripped those in China, where the pandemic began; in Japan, which has a large and vulnerable elderly population; and in Vietnam, which has fewer national resources. And testing has also lagged behind much of the world, the editorial said, when measured by tests performed per infected person.

“The magnitude of this failure is astonishing,” the editorial said. “We have failed at almost every step.”

Differing opinions on neutrality in the scientific community have led some journals to regularly weigh in on political issues and others to abstain almost entirely. NEJM’s editors previously remained mum on elections and most other political issues, in part to preserve the perception of neutrality and credibility behind the peer-reviewed science the journal publishes.

Wednesday’s editorial shifted that stance, deriding the administration for undermining experts and relying heavily on layman allies to promote policies that furthered Trump’s political aims.

“Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them,” they wrote. “Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.”

Officials in the Trump administration have tried to discredit and undermine some experts who have criticized the way the federal government responded to the pandemic. Last month, Michael Caputo, the top communications official for the Department of Health and Human Services, claimed scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were conspiring against the president and engaged in “sedition.” Others have tried to tightly control information about the state of the pandemic.

The NEJM isn’t the first science-focused publication pushed to weigh in on the election due to the tense relationship between the Trump administration and the scientific community. Scientific American also published a presidential endorsement for the first time in its October issue, urging its readers to vote for former vice president

The New England Journal of Medicine urges people to vote Trump out in an extraordinary editorial

The first question at Wednesday’s vice presidential debate was why the U.S. has fared so much worse than other countries in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. The New England Journal of Medicine had offered an answer hours earlier, in a very unusual editorial: The U.S. government has, uniquely in the world, “failed at almost every step.” The 202-year-old medical journal’s editors did not endorse Joe Biden, as Scientific American did last month, or mention President Trump by name, but the message was a clear prescription to vote him out in November.

“The United States came into this crisis with enormous advantages,” the editors detail. But “the response of our nation’s leaders has been consistently inadequate. The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls. Instead of using those tools, the federal government has undermined them.”

The federal government’s “weak and inappropriate” policies have cause additional U.S. deaths “at least in the tens of thousands,” the editorial estimates, concluding:

Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment. Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates. But truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs. [New England Journal of Medicine editorial]

“We rarely publish editorials signed by all the editors,” Dr. Eric Rubin, the NEJM‘s editor-in-chief, told CNN. And “the reason we’ve never published an editorial about elections is we’re not a political journal and I don’t think that we want to be a political journal — but the issue here is around fact, not around opinion. There have been many mistakes made that were not only foolish but reckless and I think we want people to realize that there are truths here, not just opinions.” Read the full editorial at The New England Journal of Medicine.

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Rebuking Trump, The New England Journal of Medicine calls for ousting the nation’s ‘dangerously incompetent’ leaders.

Throughout its 208-year history, The New England Journal of Medicine has remained staunchly nonpartisan. The world’s most prestigious medical journal has never supported or condemned a political candidate.

Until now.

In an editorial published on Wednesday, the journal said the Trump administration had responded so poorly to the coronavirus pandemic that it had “taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The journal did not explicitly endorse former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, but that was the only possible inference, other scientists noted.

The N.E.J.M.’s editors join those of another influential journal, Scientific American, who last month endorsed Mr. Biden.

The political leadership has failed Americans in many ways that contrast vividly with responses from leaders in other countries, the editorial said.

In the United States, it said, there was too little testing for the virus, especially early on. There was too little protective equipment, and a lack of national leadership on important measures like mask wearing, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.

There were attempts to politicize and undermine the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the journal noted.

As a result, the United States has had tens of thousands of “excess” deaths — those caused both directly and indirectly by the pandemic — as well as immense economic pain and an increase in social inequality as the virus hit disadvantaged communities hardest.

The editorial castigated the Trump administration’s rejection of science. “Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.”

The uncharacteristically pungent editorial called for change: “When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

Scientific American, too, had never before endorsed a political candidate. “The pandemic would strain any nation and system, but Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic,” the journal’s editors said.

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New England Journal of Medicine editorial takes aim at Trump administration: “This election gives us the power to render judgment”

The New England Journal of Medicine made a rare political move Wednesday, publishing an editorial by dozens of U.S. editors who denounced the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and said this election “gives us the power to render judgment.” 

The editorial, titled “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum,” does not explicitly endorse former Vice President Joe Biden, but the editors’ message is clear — the current leadership must change.

“Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them. Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies,” the editorial says. 

“Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences,” the editorial added. “Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment.”

The editorial notes that, while some deaths in the U.S. were inevitable, tens of thousands could have been saved with a better response.

Meanwhile, President Trump is claiming personal victory over the virus, saying he feels great as he presumably continues to still be shedding the virus. The president said it was a “blessing from God” that he contracted COVID-19, so he can encourage greater access for the experimental drugs he used.

“I feel great. I feel like, perfect,” the president said in a four-minute video posted to Twitter. “I think this was a blessing from God, that I caught it. This was a blessing in disguise. I caught it, I heard about this drug, I said let me take it, it was my suggestion. I said, let me take it. And it was incredible the way it worked, incredible. And I think if I didn’t catch it, we’d be looking at that like a number of other drugs. But it really did a fantastic job. I want to get for you what I got. I’m going to make it free, you’re not going to pay for it.”

Meanwhile, “isolation carts” have been set up in the West Wing, where staff can pull personal protective equipment in order to interact with the president.

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‘Dangerously incompetent’ politicians must go

The New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, on Wednesday broke with a nearly two-century tradition of avoiding politics to lambast U.S. politicians for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a first for the journal, the editors called for Americans to vote out leaders who have not done enough to address the pandemic.

“When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent,” the editors wrote. “We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

While the 35 editors who signed the editorial did not call out President Donald Trump by name, the article is filled with allusions to his actions.

“The response of our nation’s leaders has been consistently inadequate,” they wrote. “The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls.”

The editorial is the latest condemnation of the Trump administration from a respected scientific publication. Last month, Scientific American endorsed Joe Biden for president, the first time the venerable publication has backed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history.

The New England Journal of Medicine editorial, titled “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum,” does not endorse Biden, it offers an unsparing critique of Trump and his administration.

The editors wrote that while Covid-19 is a global crisis, the United States government has “failed at almost every step” to contain the pathogen’s spread.

“This crisis has produced a test of leadership,” they wrote. “With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The U.S. leads the world in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths. The country has recorded over 7.3 million infections and more than 208,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

The editorial points to early blunders such as testing shortages and a lack of personal protective equipment for health care workers, but adds that the country continues to fall short today.

“While the absolute numbers of tests have increased substantially, the more useful metric is the number of tests performed per infected person, a rate that puts us far down the international list, below such places as Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, countries that cannot boast the biomedical infrastructure or the manufacturing capacity that we have,” they wrote.

The editors called other public health interventions, such as social distancing measures, “lackadaisical at best,” and criticized moves to lift restrictions before the virus’ spread was brought under control.

The editorial also pointed out that mask wearing has been inconsistent across the country, “largely because our leaders have

Bay Area suspect nicknamed ‘Medicine Man’ arrested in biggest retail theft bust in Calif. history

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The San Mateo County Sheriff's office recovered approximately $8 million in stolen goods, as reported by CBS Bay Area.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s office recovered approximately $8 million in stolen goods, as reported by CBS Bay Area.

San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office

On Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that five suspects behind one of the biggest theft rings in state history were arrested in a multi-agency operation called Operation Proof of Purchase.

KPIX reported that over $8 million in household goods, including $1 million in razors, were recovered on a raid on September 30. They were stolen primarily from CVS retail stores, investigators said.

ALSO READ: Oakland PD raided this church. And took all their drugs.

Lower level thieves or “boosters” brought the stolen merchandise to San Francisco’s Tenderloin where they were paid one or two dollars per item by crew leaders. The items then allegedly made their way to Danny Louis Drago, a.k.a. “The Medicine Man,” who police say stored the goods at 16 sites throughout the Bay Area. The items were then sold through a wholesale shell company run by Drago, claims the attorney general’s office, as well as online through outlets like Amazon.

The San Mateo County Sheriff's office recovered approximately $8 million in stolen goods, as reported by CBS Bay Area.

The San Mateo County Sheriff’s office recovered approximately $8 million in stolen goods, as reported by CBS Bay Area.

San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office

According to investigators, one of the thieves who was arrested posted photos on social media of a car trunk full of stolen over-the-counter medicine and a handful of hundred dollar bills.

At the home of one of the crew bosses, police say they found $50,000 hidden behind picture frames, including one framed image of Minnie Mouse.


See the full report at CBS Bay Area.

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New England Journal of Medicine blasts Trump officials’ response to virus, calls for new leaders

The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, in an unprecedented editorial, denounced the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and called for voting out “current political leaders” who are “dangerously incompetent.”

The harshly worded editorial is the first time the prestigious medical journal, which usually stays out of politics, has weighed in on an election.  

The editorial does not mention President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump and Biden’s plans would both add to the debt, analysis finds Trump says he will back specific relief measures hours after halting talks Trump lashes out at FDA over vaccine guidelines MORE by name, but it refers to “the administration” and calls for voting out “our current political leaders.”

“When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent,” the editorial states. “We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

The journal takes the Trump administration to task on a wide range of issues that it argues the U.S. has failed on, from inadequate testing to shortages of protective equipment for health workers. 

“We have failed at almost every step,” the editorial states. “We had ample warning, but when the disease first arrived, we were incapable of testing effectively and couldn’t provide even the most basic personal protective equipment to health care workers and the general public. And we continue to be way behind the curve in testing.”

The editorial also criticizes states for reopening businesses before the virus had been controlled and for a lack of mask-wearing, which it blames on leaders not modeling the behavior. Trump has rarely worn a mask during appearances for months and has mocked their use. 

“Our rules on social distancing have in many places been lackadaisical at best, with loosening of restrictions long before adequate disease control had been achieved,” it states. “And in much of the country, people simply don’t wear masks, largely because our leaders have stated outright that masks are political tools rather than effective infection control measures.”

The U.S. leads the world in cases and deaths from the virus, it notes. 

“The magnitude of this failure is astonishing,” the editors write. “According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, the United States leads the world in Covid-19 cases and in deaths due to the disease, far exceeding the numbers in much larger countries, such as China.” 

It adds that countries like South Korea and Singapore were able to suppress the virus through robust testing and contact tracing, in contrast to the U.S.  

The journal also points to political pressure Trump has placed on health agencies ranging from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Food and Drug Administration, warning of the undermining of scientific expertise. 

“Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them,” it states.