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December 20 2017

The CDC's Seven Word Myth--The Little Lie That Could

by Julie Gunlock

Earlier this week, Twitter blew up about a story published in the Washington Post that said the Centers for Disease Control had banned employees from using seven words: diversity, fetus, transgender, vulnerable, entitlement, science-based, and evidence-based.

The Post story was based on one, anonymous source. ONE. ANONYMOUS. SOURCE.

And for that, Twitter and the mainstream news media went completely bonkers. Charges of "totalitarianism!" and "censorship!" and dire predictions of the "anti-science" Trump administration were everywhere. The Left even trotted out 'ole reliable: NAZIS!!!

The pearl clutching continued for a good two or three days until a blog post by Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution planted a seed of doubt about the Washington Post story.

This story may well be true, but I’d like more than “…according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing.”  Here is another account of what exactly is known.  Wasn’t “not publishing the article until it is better sourced” the evidence-based thing to do?

And then, hours later, National Affairs Founder Yuval Levin brilliantly revealed the whole story (emphasis mine) over at National Review.

...what happened regarding these other terms (“transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based”) was not that retrograde Republicans ordered career CDC officials not to use these terms but that career CDC officials assumed retrograde Republicans would be triggered by such words and, in an effort to avoid having such Republicans cut their budgets, reasoned they might be best avoided. With regard to “evidence-based” and “science-based” in particular, I gather the reasoning was simpler than that, and that the group thought these terms are so overused in the CDC budget documents they were discussing as to become nearly meaningless and that their use should be limited to where it actually made a point.

So, again, what occurred here is that in a move to be cautious on budget documents, some low-level CDC hack told CDC employees to avoid certain words that might hinder funding chances--and only in budget documents, not documents that would be made public, not in guidance to the public and not in studies or in scientific papers. When asked to comment on the charge, the heads of the CDC and HHS issues statements fully and forcefully denying the words had been banned as an agency-wide policy. 

Naturally, the hysteria about the seven words continues as smug, liberal suffering from Trump derangement syndrome ignore the full and complete story in favor of the Post's made up report that fits in nicely with the anti-Trump narrative. And naturally, none of the facts that have come out subsequent has resulted in the Post issuing a retraction or a correction. In fact, Post reporter Lena Sun doubled down, tweeting

If folks at other federal agencies are also being told to avoid certain words in drafting budget narratives, please feel free to contact us via our secure drop . Thanks so much.

Yes, thanks so much, Ms. Sun, for providing more evidence that the Washington Post is a joke that willfully misleads the American public.

 

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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