The Food and Drug Administration has ousted its controversial chief spokesperson, Emily Miller, following botched communications about using blood plasma as a potential COVID-19 treatment, according to multiple media reports.
Miller, who held the position for just 11 days, aggressively defended FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn this week after he grossly misstated benefits of the treatment during a press briefing last Sunday. In the briefing, President Trump announced that the FDA had authorized emergency use of the treatment, despite reports that experts at the National Institutes of Health objected, saying the evidence was too weak to justify use. Though Hahn apologized for his misstatements, controversy over the authorization continued, raising questions about the credibility of the FDA and the independence of Hahn.
But even without that fiasco, Miller’s presence at the agency was controversial, drawing further concern that the traditionally apolitical agency has been politicized by the Trump Administration.
The White House installed Miller, a right-wing activist, to the FDA August 17. Though she has no background in science or medicine, she was appointed to the position of assistant commissioner and chief spokesperson for the regulatory agency, a position that is typically filled by non-political civil servants.
Miller’s previous work included directing communications for Senator Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign and reporting for One America News, a right-wing cable channel that often dabbles in conspiracy theories and prominently supports Trump. As Stat news points out, Miller also worked as columnist for the Washington Times, where she published pieces with titles such as: “New Obamacare ads make young women look like sluts.” In 2013, she published a book on gun rights titled, Emily Gets Her Gun: But Obama Wants to Take Yours.
According to anonymous senior agency officials who spoke with Stat, Miller’s appointment dispirited FDA staff.
Along with Miller’s ouster, the Department of Health and Human Services also terminated a contract with a public relations consultant who advised Hahn to apologize for his misstatements, according to the New York Times. The HHS told the Times that the termination decision was not related to Hahn’s statements or apology.