Wednesday during the White House press briefing, Major Garrett, the chief White House correspondent for CBS News took White House press secretary Josh Earnest to task light of a second American getting Ebola after caring for the late Thomas Eric Duncan.
Partial transcript as follows:
GARRETT: Josh, a couple months ago when the Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over Ukraine, the president carried on with his campaign schedule. A member of the staff said, abrupt changes to his — the president’s schedule can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people or creating a false sense of crisis. Did you do that today.
EARNEST: No, Major. What drives these kinds of decisions are the president’s responsibilities.
GARRETT: Can you understand the public watching this story play out can have genuine sense of either skepticism or possibly alarm because they hear, “We know how to deal with this, we’re taking all the proper steps, all the precautions are being implemented,” and yet someone who has it. Doesn’t show symptoms, gets on a commercial aircraft, even though the exposure risk is minimal, everyone on that plane is now being contacted. That creates at least a low level sense of alarm, but everyone that was on that plane, everyone who knows that person that was on that plane, and everyone remembers hearing a couple days ago, well, that’s not going to happen. We’ve got this under control. Do you understand how the public is becoming less confident and possibly more alarmed as this story plays out?
EARNEST: People should continue to be confident in the response organized by the government in reaction to this specific situation. The reason for that is simply that we have a modern medical infrastructure in place that, again, has not been flawless. We pointed out why that was the case.
GARRETT: She should not have traveled. That was a big mistake. That looks to me, and I think it looks to most people evaluating this fairly, as sort of a gap in the system. Something that should have been communicated very tightly within the Texas Presbyterian Community, ‘hey, don’t get on a commercial aircraft,’ happened anyway. Do you understand how that can create some degree of uncertainty among the public when trying to evaluate where the story’s going and how tightly you have your arms wrapped around the situation?
EARNEST: Major, I can certainly understand the concern by the American public about this terrible disease. It’s a deadly disease. But it is a disease that we know — whose outbreak we know how to contain here in this country.
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