Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg will headline CNN’s weekly town hall event on the coronavirus, which will also feature two Obama administration appointees.
Greta Thunberg, 17, isn’t a physician or a public policy official. It remains unclear how her climate activism is relevant to the discussion about the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, though she is sure to be a ratings draw.
CNN announced Wednesday that Coronavirus: Facts and Fears will also feature former Centers for Disease Control Director Richard Besser and former Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Both served under President Barack Obama and both have been highly critical of President Donald Trump’s response to the Wuhan pandemic.
The town hall on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET will be hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Former acting CDC director Richard Besser, former HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius and activist Greta Thunberg join @AndersonCooper & @DrSanjayGupta for a live #CNNTownHall. Coronavirus – Facts and Fears, Thursday at 8 p.m. ET pic.twitter.com/I4FrXgwaL6
— CNN (@CNN) May 13, 2020
CNN’s selection of Greta Thunberg as an apparent authority on the coronavirus has left more than a few people baffled, with some people wondering on social media if the network had mistakenly run an article from The Onion.
Donald Trump Jr. quipped that the 17-year-old activist must now be a “world renowned infectious disease specialist.”
Greta Thunberg having a remarkable career already in that as a teenager she’s now a world renowned infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist AND a leading scientific voice when it comes to global climate policy.
Just wow so impressive. https://t.co/398T4wXDry
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) May 13, 2020
A CNN spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment about why Thunberg was included on the panel.
Thunberg has repeatedly blasted the U.S. for its environmental record. She has also insulted Trump, telling the BBC that talking to him would be a waste of her time.
“Honestly, I don’t think I would have said anything. Because obviously he’s not listening to scientists and experts, so why would he listen to me?” she said. “So I probably wouldn’t have said anything, I wouldn’t have wasted my time.”
During her highly publicized climate change protests, Thunberg has criticized the United States and Trump but has gone easy on China’s environmental record as the world’s largest polluter and producer of greenhouse gases.
Sebelius has slammed the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak. “We basically wasted two months,” she recently told the Associated Press.
Besser has also criticized the Trump administration for its guidelines on relaxing social distancing.
“There are things that are clearly missing in there in terms of the need to have widespread testing capability available, the importance of contact tracing the importance of providing resources to individuals, to allow them to isolate or to quarantine,” he told Newsweek.
Previous panelists on CNN’s Coronavirus: Facts and Fears include Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Vice President Al Gore, and filmmaker Spike Lee.