There are seven words that are being asked to be excluded from budget requests.
The Department of Health and Social Services (H.H.S) attempted to shed some light on a recent report which claims the Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C) is banned by the Trump administration from using the words “Transgender” and “diversity” among others in their 2019 budget requests.
The New York Times reports that agency spokesperson Matt Lloyd responded to the allegations in an email late Friday.
“The assertion that H.H.S. has ‘banned words’ is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process,” he said. “H.H.S. will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. H.H.S. also strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”
When pressed further about the report, Lloyd did not respond.
The banned words story came from an article at The Washington Post in which they claim C.D.C policy analysts were asked to refrain from using seven words in their reports which included, “entitlement,” diversity” and “evidence-based.”
The Post reported an alternate phrase was advised: “the suggested phrase is ‘C.D.C. bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.’’’
The New York Times did their research into the nature of the report, and they confirmed that certain aspects were true, however, they also note that it may not be so much as a ban, but a suggestion of phrasing when it comes to requesting funds from the government.
“It’s absurd and Orwellian, it’s stupid and Orwellian, but they are not saying to not use the words in reports or articles or scientific publications or anything else the C.D.C. does,” a former official who wanted to remain anonymous said. “They’re saying not to use it in your request for money because it will hurt you. It’s not about censoring what C.D.C. can say to the American public. It’s about a budget strategy to get funded.”
In a series of Sunday Tweets published by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald didn't exactly deny that a request had been made, but she did make some clarifications.
"I want to assure you there are no banned words at C.D.C,” wrote Dr. Fitzgerald. "We will continue to talk about all our important public health programs."
Dr. Fitzgerald also offered some reassurance to those who a worried about censorship, "You may be understandably concerned about recent media reports alleging that CDC is banned from using certain words in budget documents. I want to assure you that CDC remains committed to our public health mission as a science- and evidence-based institution."
Still, others are more concerned with the feeling of being censored over anything else. Former Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy is one of them.
“Whether this is a directive from above is not clear,’’ he said. “But for C.D.C. or any agency to be censored or passively made to feel they have to self-censor to avoid retribution — that’s dangerous and not acceptable. The purpose of science is to search for truth, and when science is censored the truth is censored.”