"It’s like every red flag": Trump-ordered HHS ad blitz raises alarms

The ad blitz, described in some budget documents as the “Covid-19 immediate surge public advertising and awareness campaign,” is expected to lean heavily on video interviews between administration officials and celebrities, who will discuss aspects of the coronavirus outbreak and address the Trump administration’s response to the crisis, according to six individuals with knowledge of the campaign who described its workings to POLITICO…

The public awareness campaign, which HHS is seeking to start airing before Election Day on Nov. 3, was largely conceived and organized by Michael Caputo, the health department’s top spokesperson who took medical leave last week and announced on Thursday that he had been diagnosed with cancer. Caputo, who has no medical or scientific background, claimed in a Facebook video on Sept. 13 that the campaign was “demanded of me by the president of the United States. Personally.”

“The Democrats — and, by the way, their conjugal media and the leftist scientists that are working for the government — are dead set against it,” Caputo told his Facebook followers in the Sept. 13 video. “They cannot afford for us to have any good news before November because they’re already losing. … They’re going to come after me because I’m going to be putting $250 million worth of ads on the air.”

The campaign is indeed under investigation by Democrats, who have charged that the massive ad blitz is an attempt to boost Trump’s standing on Covid-19 before the election and have unsuccessfully called on HHS to halt the contract.