“I think in general there are answers to questions that get put to scientists that, because we live in the nuanced news environment, can be unforgiving,” one former senior Trump administration official said. “Media can clip a single sentence that may have been couched in a ton of caveats. It is great we have people that are media savvy and are scientists, but if you want to have communications and the science… [scientists] answer the questions presented to them. They don’t stick to a script. It makes communicating very hard.”

The former official pointed to an incident at the beginning of the Biden administration where Fauci publicly challenged a story published by CNN that quoted an anonymous official saying the COVID-19 team needed to “start from scratch” on the vaccine distribution. “We’re certainly not starting from scratch, because there is activity going on in the distribution,” Fauci told reporters during a press conference Jan. 21. “We’re coming in with fresh ideas, but also some ideas that were not bad ideas with the previous administration.”

On Monday, in answering a question about if more could have been done in the last month to help save lives, Psaki answered in part by saying the administration “inherited a circumstance where there were not enough vaccines ordered.” But Walensky and other health officials have said in recent press conferences that the messy vaccine distribution rollout wasn’t a result of a lack of available doses, it was because states had held them in reserve and were not administering them at efficient rates.