Former OAN correspondent Emily Miller fired at FDA after misleading tweet during Trump's speech

Former right-wing journalist out at FDA after tweeting comments on convalescent plasma from Trump's RNC speech

Published August 28, 2020 2:50PM (EDT)

One America News Network | Food & Drug Administration (Graphics collage by Salon/WiikiCommons/One America News Network)
One America News Network | Food & Drug Administration (Graphics collage by Salon/WiikiCommons/One America News Network)

Emily Miller, gun-rights advocate and former senior correspondent for the right-wing One America News Network, has been fired from her position as assistant commissioner for media relations at the strife-torn Food and Drug Administration. Her tenure at FDA lasted all of 11 days, which to be fair is one day longer than Anthony Scaramucci lasted as White House communications director.

"Effective immediately, Emily Miller will no longer serve the FDA as the assistant commissioner for media affairs and will no longer be the official spokesperson for the agency," FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn wrote in an email, reported by Politico. "I will appoint someone to an acting role in that position in the interim."

Miller's ouster comes after the agency drew widespread criticism for the rollout Sunday of its emergency authorization for convalescent plasma, which was seen as politically charged and which conveyed misleading information for which Hahn apologized the following day. Miller had already been forced to correct a misleading tweet.

The FDA press release accompanied a briefing where President Trump, standing beside Hahn, touted the authorization as a "breakthrough" and made the false claim that plasma had been "proven to reduce mortality by 35%. It's a tremendous number."

Hahn, who echoed Trump's point, personally apologized for his role in that press conference the following day, calling the criticism "entirely justified." Miller, who had tweeted the same misinformation, did not apologize.

On Thursday evening, the night before she was fired, Miller again tweeted misleading information about convalescent plasma, this time from her personal account in a partisan context: Quoting Trump in real time from his acceptance speech during the Republican National Convention.

"'Convalescent plasma will save thousands and thousands of lives.' - Pres. Trump," Miller wrote, tagging the tweet #COVIDー19 and #RNC2020Convention.

Hours before Miller posted that second misleading tweet, the FDA's parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, terminated its contract with public relations consultant Wayne Pines, the New York Times reported Friday. Pines had reportedly advised Hahn earlier in the week to correct the misleading statements he made during the press conference with Trump.

"I did recommend that he correct the record," Pines told the New York Times, but said he wasn't told why he had been let go. "If a federal official doesn't say something right, and chooses to clarify and say that the criticism is justified, that's refreshing," he added.

Politico reported that health officials had taken a dim view of Miller within days of her hiring, and said that her short stint with the department was studded with clashes over messaging.

The plasma press conference was accompanied by a news release that touted the announcement as "Another Achievement in Administration's Fight Against Pandemic," which appeared to prioritize political messaging over scientific information.

When veteran health reporter Julie Rovner pointed out in a tweet that the headline was unusual, Miller, who had also repeated Hahn's inaccurate description in a tweet, asked, "How so?"

"FDA press releases don't trumpet Administration achievements," Rovner replied.

Miller replied: "So?"

Salon's emailed questions regarding the role of HHS lead spokesperson Michael Caputo — a GOP operative and longtime Trump ally and Roger Stone confidant who was brought on in April, after tweeting racist attacks and politicized conspiracy theories about the pandemic — were routed by a department spokesperson directly to Caputo, who did not immediately reply.

An FDA spokesperson did not immediately reply to Salon's questions.

By Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger was a staff writer at Salon (2020-21). Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

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Anthony Scaramucci Coronavirus Covid-19 Emily Miller Fda Furthering Hhs Michael Caputo Stephen Hahn