Trump’s COVID adviser Scott Atlas has quit. But he can’t scrub the blood off his hands | Dick Polman

December 7, 2020 6:30 am

President Donald Trump campaigns in Avoca, Pa.. on Nov. 2, 2020 (screen capture)

It’s nice to get good news for a change.

Dick Polman Cagle Syndicate photo

Last Monday, two more swing states certified Joe Biden’s solid victory. And in Washington, MAGA doctor Scott Atlas quit his job.

In the spirit of a famous children’s book, I say to him: “Good night, loon.”

As Trump’s criminally negligent regime withers and dies, it’s imperative that we sift the wreckage and vow – via the ballot box – never to wreak such havoc on America again. If the Biden administration can succeed in restoring faith in governance – particularly in the realm of public health – it would be a gift to humanity. It would be the ultimate rebuke to death-cult dolts like Scott Atlas.

Atlas, the White House pandemic adviser, was the ultimate MAGA appointee: ill-qualified for the job he got, woefully over his head while doing it, and people died because he did it. One former senior White House official reportedly said, “He was the worst thing to happen to Trump in 2020.” Actually, that’s not quite true. Atlas didn’t “happen to Trump.” Trump made Atlas happen.

Atlas was not an infectious disease expert. He was not an epidemiologist. He had no background in public health. He’s a radiologist; hiring him to fight the pandemic was like hiring a plumber to drill your teeth. But Atlas got the job for two reasons: He looked good on Fox News (silver hair, distinguished demeanor) and he spouted Trump-pleasing gibberish on Fox News.

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His pitch, as you probably know, was that masks were overrated, social distancing was overrated, the pandemic was nearly over and would wane further if we simply allowed the virus to spread among young healthy people, thus helping America reach “herd immunity.” This quack advice, which Trump lapped up, was so Orwellian that the faculty at Stanford University (where Atlas was a fellow) passed a resolution stating that his “disdain for established medical knowledge violates medical ethics.”

Trump had basically given up on curbing the pandemic – his surrender was arguably the biggest reason why 80.2 million voters ousted him – and Atlas gave him permission to fail. Former Bush White House medical adviser Jonathan Reiner said the damage Atlas wrought, in terms of spreading lies and causing needless deaths, “is incalculable.”

“He understood something that really resonated with the president. He understood that it’s easy to convince somebody that you’re right when you tell them exactly what they want to hear. He told the president exactly what he wanted to hear,” Reiner said Monday. “Other than that, it was a bravura performance.”

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And what a performance it was. Atlas aped his imbecilic boss in all kinds of ways. When the Michigan governor imposed new restrictions, Atlas tweeted some militia machismo: “The only way this stops is if people rise up. #FreedomMatters #StepUp.”

Another time, when Atlas tweeted that masks were not effective in slowing the spread of the virus – directly contradicting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Twitter removed Atlas’ lie because, according to a Twitter spokesman, it “was in violation of our COVID-19 Misleading Information Policy.” But Atlas had other ways to get his message out, like sitting for an interview on Russia’s RT network on the eve of the presidential election.

And his most infamous claim – that the virus would be curbed if only 25 percent of the population is allowed to get infected – was denounced by one prominent infectious disease expert as “the most amazing combination of pixie dust and pseudoscience,” a prescription for more needless deaths. And speaking of needless deaths, that toll has now topped 267,000. On Atlas’ last day on the job, more than 1,000 Americans died. That’s double the number of Americans who died each day during the Civil War.

In his resignation letter, Atlas said that “my advice was always focused on minimizing the harms,” whereas in truth he violated the Hippocratic oath that (in its origin language) compels doctors to “utterly reject harm and mischief.”

Leave it to Trump to sideline Anthony Fauci and bring in a guy who commits malpractice. Atlas may be gone – and his boss will soon follow (escorted from the building, if necessary) – but neither will ever able to scrub the blood from his hands.

Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. Email him at [email protected].

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Dick Polman
Dick Polman

Opinion contributor Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at His work appears on Mondays on the Capital-Star's Commentary Page. Readers may email him at [email protected].