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Why Whistleblowers are Progressives

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Larry Downing, Poo

The past week has seen a resurgence of anti-Trump whistleblowing. It should be no surprise to anyone that the federal whistleblower statute was passed during the second term of Barack Obama by a Democrat-controlled Senate--S.743 - Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012.


President Obama, an alleged legal scholar, militarized the Whistleblower Act like no previous administration. A 2019 article by Brittany Gibson in the liberal website American Prospect quotes Liz Hempowicz, director of public policy at the Project on Government Oversight, as saying that under the Obama administration there was complete misuse to target whistleblowers and to create an example of these individuals who came forward to blow the whistle on really serious intelligence community abuses of power.

During Obama’s two terms in office, there were 8 whistleblower cases. The majority of them involved wartime security threats--espionage and mishandling of government classified information. They did not concern differences of opinion with the Obama White House. Shanna Devine, legislative director for the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower advocacy group, lauded Obama for ushering in important improvements for government employees.

Politifact, owned and operated by the Poynter Institute that also publishes the Tampa Bay Times (a.k.a. Pravda on the Bay), gushed because Obama signed both a 2012 law and an executive order increasing whistleblower protection rights, saying the overall conditions for federal employees have improved greatly, apparently for all whom proved loyal to the 44th President or at least kept their reservations to themselves. 

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has been the object of at least five whistleblower complaints. None of them have concerned issues of national security or espionage. In fact, all have been partisan efforts against the President. Not surprisingly, Rick Bright, Deputy Director of Influenza Division’s Biomedical Advancement Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is now the poster boy of federal government rectitude and innocence.


The MSM’s reaction to Bright’s removal is not surprising. Yesterday the Associated Press released a story about Bright who had just filed a new whistleblower complaint against Donald Trump, saying, “America faces the ‘darkest winter in modern history’ unless leaders act decisively to prevent a rebound of the coronavirus, says a government whistleblower who alleges he was ousted from his job after warning the Trump administration to prepare for the pandemic.”

This real case of President Trump’s alleged whistleblower crime against Rick Bright, amounted to firing an employee for publicizing to the world an opinion, not a fact, that went counter to a legitimate administrative policy. There was no such disagreement during the Obama years. Bright, like so many Obama holdovers, believes he has government tenure and could pontificate at will against a President with whom he disagreed. In corporate America doing so would certainly get one fired with no media coverage.

The honorable solution for Rick Bright would have been to resign and get a job outside of the federal government that suited his predilections—perhaps at a university, a progressive haven, given his anti-Trump bias. Bright's testimony will allegedly backup this week's warning by the federal government's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, or “Dr. Quarantine” as we have come to know him, that “a rushed lifting of store-closings and stay-at-home restrictions could ‘turn back the clock,’ seeding more suffering and death and complicating efforts to get the economy rolling again.” (No government hyperbole here!)


At issue is the fact that “Dr.” Bright is not a medical doctor. With a Ph.D. in Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis from Emory University, he has actually no medical experience. Like his boss, Dr. Fauci, Bright has never been a clinical physician in a medical practice. Neither have ever treated patients, yet the MSM give both “doctors” the unearned credibility of people who do have such experience--

“Immunologist Dr. Rick Bright makes his sobering prediction in testimony prepared for his appearance Thursday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Aspects of his complaint about early administration handling of the crisis are expected to be backed up by testimony from an executive of a company that manufactures, respirator masks. A federal watchdog agency has found “reasonable grounds” that Bright was removed from his post as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority after sounding the alarm at the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Perhaps the MSM’s time would be better spent fact-checking their own pronouncements even if they ran counter to their never-Trump hostilities. The problem as I suggested earlier with Politifact, is that too many factcheckers are guilty of not getting their own facts right, let alone about themselves. Such organizations were the subject of a Wall Street Journal story by L. Gordon Crovitz, titled “Double-Checking the Journalist 'Fact Checkers.'” The story raised serious doubts about the veracity of fact-checkers in the media and opined that the fact-checkers were perennially in need of being fact-checked themselves.


Someone needs to blow the whistle on their shoddy work.

Loyd Pettegrew, Ph.D. is a professor Emeritus of Communication at the University of South Florida.

Editor's note: This column has been updated to include the publication Liz Hempowicz was paraphrased in.

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