Fox News ramped up its attempted character assassination of CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden with direct calls for his resignation, suggestions that he is uninformed on the spread of infectious disease, and a comparison of the public servant to Saddam Hussein's one-time propaganda minister.
On the October 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, contributor Laura Ingraham attacked Dr. Thomas Frieden, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for his handling of public relations in the wake of the first confirmed case of Ebola contraction in the United States. Ingraham assailed Director Frieden, claiming that he “is on the verge of becoming the Baghdad Bob of the health care community,” and claimed that he seems less like a health care professional and more like a member of “the Obama spin room.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade joined the attack, claiming the Frieden talks to the public “like children” before promoting the idea of appointing former Republican Senator Bill Frist to run the United States' Ebola response:
Ingraham's use of “Baghdad Bob” is an allusion to former Ba'ath Party spokesperson and Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf, who gained international notoriety in 2003 for repeated and obviously false claims that American troops were being rolled back by the defensive forces of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Ingraham's inflammatory comments come one day after Fox host Bill O'Reilly attacked Frieden multiple times on his show. O'Reilly opened the October 13 edition of The O'Reilly Factor by labeling Frieden's opposition to a West African travel ban “stupid and irresponsible” before accusing Frieden of being a “chief propagandist” of the administration and calling for him to resign:
O'Reilly's attack on Frieden continued during a later segment with contributor Brit Hume, during which the Fox personalities agreed “the federal government under President Obama [is] not telling the truth to the American people” about Ebola. Hume took the attack even further, questioning whether or not Frieden -- who previously directed New York City's successful tuberculosis containment and prevention program -- has a working knowledge of the spread of infectious diseases like Ebola: