Trump Admin Offered Santa Clause Performers Early Access to Vaccine if They'd Promote It in Ad Campaign
For months, President Donald Trump has projected optimism that a vaccine for the virus that's already killed over 200 thousand Americans would be widely available before the end of the year, though many experts in his own administration disputed that.
Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Trump administration solicited Santa Claus performers to participate in a $250 million ad campaign to promote the vaccine. What's more, they promised the Santas they would get access to the vaccine before the general public in exchange for their participation.
The story came to light through tapes of conversations between Trump's Health and Human Services (HHS) assistant Michael Caputo and Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas head Rick Erwin.
You can listen to one of the tapes here.
In the leaked recording, Caputo says to Erwin:
"Frontline essential workers, health workers will be among those vaccinated early. And from my perspective, if you and your colleagues are not essential workers, I don't know what it is."
Erwin responds with a "Ho, ho, ho!" before saying, "I love you."
A spokesman for Health and Human Services insisted that HHS Secretary Alex Azar knew nothing of Caputo's efforts and the measure was scrapped before reporting on it emerged.
But as far as public opinion goes, the Trump administration is once again on the naughty list.
We haven't spent enough time talking about how stupid this idea was and how trumpworld is NEVER going to be able to distribute a vaccine. https://t.co/HHCrYpXInm
— Molly Jong-Fast🏡 (@MollyJongFast) October 26, 2020
I'm getting my costume out of the closet lickity split https://t.co/sTxpU2MXsd
— Henry Winkler (@hwinkler4real) October 26, 2020
This is in the Wall Street Journal, not the Onion.. https://t.co/Au3iXdzWxn
— Shannon4OH (@ShannonFreshour) October 25, 2020
This year, Christmas goes to war on you https://t.co/o7A1a9d19i
— Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) October 25, 2020
We're at the "Trump bribing Santa Claus with a vaccine" portion of 2020 at last. https://t.co/pGznVmEVe1
— Grim Sterling (@JimSterling) October 26, 2020
There's little faith in Trump and his administration's promises of a vaccine.
They shame mask wearing. They hold super spreader events daily. They discourage testing. They pretend like a vaccine is days away so that people will let down their guard.
The biggest threat to America's public health isn't the virus, it's the Trump White House. https://t.co/aHpdAJFkUX
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 26, 2020
Trump's covid strategy is to just let everyone die until there is a vaccine and then let everyone die who doesn't have early access to the vaccine and then let everyone die who can't afford the vaccine and then let everyone die who the vaccine doesn't work on. MAGA https://t.co/47InYxrSsV
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) October 25, 2020
Are we just going to forget that Trump had promised, repeatedly, that a vaccine would be released this month…?
— Pé (@4everNeverTrump) October 23, 2020
According to the Wall Street Journal, Mrs. Clauses and elves would have been granted early access in addition to Santas.