HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo pushed COVID-19 conspiracy theories and praised white supremacists in unearthed podcast
Update: Caputo will take a leave of absence until after the election
Update (9/16/20 1:40 p.m.): Following comments reported by The New York Times in which Caputo accused CDC scientists of “sedition” against President Trump, CBS' Steven Portnoy reports Caputo “has decided to take a leave of absence” for 60 days.
In a podcast unearthed by Media Matters, Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo spread baseless conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, praised white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos, and said Democrats are “counting” on COVID-19 fatalities in order to win the election against President Donald Trump.
On his now-defunct show Still Standing with Michael Caputo, the current HHS spokesperson pushed the debunked conspiracy theory that the coronavirus was invented “in a bioweapons facility in Wuhan,” used racist terms to refer to the virus, and said Democrats are calculating how long they can “actually keep the coronavirus concern ball in the air” in order to win the election. He also praised various white supremacist and “alt-right” personalities, including neo-Nazi Milo Yiannopoulos and Pizzagate conspiracy theorists and “alt-right” Twitter personalities Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec. On his podcast, Caputo also pushed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about billionaire progressive donor George Soros paying anti-Trump protesters and other conspiracy theories about Democrats, the media, and the Mueller investigation.
CNN previously reported on racist and sexist now-deleted tweets from Caputo.
Caputo was thrust into the national spotlight when then-special counsel Robert Mueller looked into his involvement in the Trump 2016 campaign during his investigation. He spread conspiracy theories about the investigation on Twitter, and in the clips unearthed by Media Matters, he said he’s “not right” after going through the Mueller investigation” and can “barely breathe” because of his anger.
A longtime friend of Stone, Caputo was at the forefront of the campaign to get Stone a presidential pardon. HHS Secretary Alex Azar appointed Caputo to his position as an HHS spokesperson in April 2020, “putting a vocal defender of President Donald Trump in a key messaging role,” according to CNN.
Two of the most important agencies under HHS tasked with fighting the coronavirus, the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have recently come under fire for the perception that the apolitical agencies are being influenced by political pressure from the Trump White House. Controversial FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn told the HHS spokesman his position is “well deserved” during an interview on the podcast that Caputo currently hosts for the department.
Caputo at present represents a department that includes science-driven research and regulatory bodies, all of which require trust from the public at large. His history as a Trump loyalist, an ally of white supremacists, and a conspiracy theory enthusiast all raise questions as to whether the HHS has appropriate personnel in place to respond to the global pandemic.
Caputo spread conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, used racist terms to describe it, and said Democrats are “counting” on more fatalities for an election win
Caputo pushed the baseless conspiracy theory that the novel coronavirus was created by the Chinese “in a bioweapons facility in Wuhan,” repeatedly calling it the “Chinese coronavirus.”
Caputo called the coronavirus “the Chinese virus” and “the Chinese coronavirus.”
Caputo said Democrats are calculating how long they can “actually keep the coronavirus concern ball in the air” in order to win the election.
Caputo claimed Democrats are counting on “fatalities because the more people that die, the more personal tragedy there is” and it gives “Democrats a chance to harvest ... waning enthusiasm in the president.”
Caputo: “How many have to die for the Democrats to win?”
Caputo praised white supremacists and other far-right figures: Yiannopoulos’ “views aren’t all that different from mine.”
Caputo praised white supremacist Milo Yiannopoulos as “absolutely delightful” and someone whose “views aren’t all that different from mine.”
Caputo called neo-Nazi collaborator and conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec “someone I like alot” and recounted meeting other “guys” who are “called alt-right” at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s convention.
Caputo on Yiannopoulos: “He says some things that are pretty out there, but I love the guy for it.”
Caputo recommended Yiannopoulos’ book about Roger Stone.
Caputo said you could “hear the broken heart” of Milo Yiannopoulos in his writing about Steve Bannon.
Caputo told his audience to go buy Yiannopoulos’ book.
Caputo praised “alt-right” rape apologist Mike Cernovich: “Pretty remarkable guy, if you ask me. I know people think he’s alt-right or whatever. I think it’s all crap.”
Caputo pushed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories: “Watch your back. You have to understand how big this is.”
Caputo pushed anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about George Soros paying protesters.
Caputo says protesters are being “paid and inspired by billionaires that they are serving”: “Watch your back. … You have to understand how big this is.”
Caputo attacked Democrats, the media, and the Mueller investigation, sometimes pushing conspiracy theories
Caputo quoted Thomas Jefferson to compare Democrats to wolves attacking a camp: “You kill them before they get in. … Watch your back, ... lock your doors, set your alarms, carry your legal weapons, because ... this is just starting.”
Caputo said he can “barely breathe” and is “still not right” because of his anger over Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, dismissed threats against Rep. Adam Schiff and called him a “scumbag Democrat,” then described his guns.
Caputo: “I’m not a prepper” but “I know where to get” 80 days worth of preserved food.
Caputo: “MSNBC and CNN commentators are parroting Chinese Communist Party propaganda.”
Caputo falsely claimed “there’s no real proof” the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-linked Russian troll farm, exists.