This Will Undoubtedly Delight Our Allies

Weird story in the news today about Trump allegedly trying to get German firm to either give US exclusive access to possible vaccine (Guardian: Trump offers ‘large sums’ for exclusive access to coronavirus vaccine),  or to move its operations to US, presumably to achieve something similar (Reuters: Germany tries to stop U.S. from luring away firm seeking coronavirus vaccine).  Sourcing is slightly hinky, but there’s enough smoke to suggest odds of a fire.

Of course, all this arises in the shadow of the total collapse of US contingency plans for an epidemic, not least the colossal failure of the four, very expensive ($670 million!) US  government-sponsored plants that are supposed to be able to churn out vaccines. (Washington Post: Federal vaccine development sites ill-suited to counter covid-19 epidemic)

Somewhere Putin is chortling.

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9 Responses to This Will Undoubtedly Delight Our Allies

  1. Vic says:

    What is wrong with you? Do you actually believe stuff like this? Three years of made-up “bombshell” stories based on anonymous sources that always turn out to be complete crap haven’t taught you anything? Seriously, does this even pass the small-test with you? Do you think that an American President is trying to bogart all of the possible vaccine? Really?

    This crap, repeated ad nauseam, and training your brain to be gullible when the media says it, is why Trump will be re-elected and you will be confused by it.

    • sigh Try doing a little research before you rant.

      As I said, the sourcing was a bit off, but there seemed to be something there. And, it seems, there is something there: the German government has confirmed key parts. but not all, of the original report. See NYT, U.S. Offered ‘Large Sum’ to German Company for Access to Coronavirus Vaccine Research, German Officials Say:

      The Trump administration attempted to persuade a German firm developing a possible vaccine for coronavirus to move its research work to the United States, German officials said, raising fears in Berlin that President Trump was trying to assure that any inoculation would be available first, and perhaps exclusively, in the United States.

      White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But two senior American officials said that some of the German news accounts first reporting the story were overblown, particularly with regard to any effort by the United States to secure exclusive access to a vaccine.

      The Trump administration has spoken with more than 25 companies that say they can help with a vaccine, one of the American officials said, and is open to speaking with others. Any solution, he said, would be shared with the world.

      Nevertheless, Germany’s interior minister, Horst Seehofer, said that Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has a famously testy relationship with Mr. Trump, will lead a crisis meeting with ministers on Monday that will include discussion of a German defense strategy for the firm.

      According to the German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag, which first reported the story on Sunday, Mr. Trump offered CureVac roughly $1 billion in exchange for exclusive access to the vaccine. The newspaper quoted an unnamed German government source who said Mr. Trump wanted the resulting vaccine “only for the United States.”

      But another German official, reached by The New York Times, said it was unclear whether the administration simply wanted the research work, and for any resulting production to be on American soil.

      German officials sounded unsure about the reassurances that the United States would share a vaccine if it were developed.

      • Vic says:

        No, you do. Read that article you just quoted. No actual, confirmable source is cited. It could be completely made up, as far as one could tell for sure. And even if you assume these anonymous sources exist and said what was quoted, you have no idea if what they said is even true, because non of it can be verified. Some of this might be true. Which parts? All presented by a media that has repeatedly lied and misled for three years now in an effort to hang a gotcha on Trump. You need to have your nose checked because your smell-checker is clearly on the fritz.

        You wouldn’t accept such an article written as a paper from one of your students, why do you accept it from the media?

        • There are indeed sources, they are just not named. E.g. “two senior American officials” and “another German official, reached by The New York Times,” and “German officials”. That’s not unusual.

          As things continue to develop, there remains confusion. The company now denies the story, but that leaves open why the German government seems to think that some sort of large monetary offer was made, even if the terms and consequences remain murky.

          And, for the record, the standards for academic research are rather different than journalism (or blogging). And that is a good thing: we count on somewhat trustworthy sources like major newspapers to offer identification protection to sources so we get more and better news. Indeed, that is why the majority of states have shield laws. The Times, like most good US papers, requires two sources for identity-protected facts. That is not in any way infallible, but it works much more often than not.

          • Vic says:

            You just really have not been paying attention to modern journalism and politics over the previous few years, have you? Seriously. Your response would be laughable, were it not so sadly indicative of how many people interpret “news” these days.

            What you say, USED to be normative. It is not anymore. Now the old terms, used to protect sources, as you suggest, are very often used to make things up. It should be a big clue that when a story is, seemingly ridiculous, citing only anonymous sources, and is also being denied by non-anonymous sources, that it is extremely likely to be made up, with no more truth than the story of Trump hiring Russian hookers to pee on the bed Obama slept in. Though maybe you believed that one too.

            Sorry, you’ve lost it.

            • This sort of comment reeks of ODing on Fox. If you seriously believe that reporters on major newspapers routinely make stuff up and attribute it to anonymous sources then there’s likely nothing I can do to persuade you otherwise (since we’re neither one witnesses to the conversations). But I think you should maybe change brands of Kool-Aide.

              The problem with anonymous sourcing, at least for major news sources, is not so much that reporters lie (modulo the occasional Judith Miller), bu that the sources use the cloak of anonymity to lie. That is a real issue, and is why one must always look at purely anonymously sourced pieces with a cautious eye.

              But here, the true bit is likely the part confirmed by the German government — that they got spooked here. It may just be they so mistrust the Trump admin that they are jumping at shadows, but even that is significant.

              • Vic says:

                I see you are fully invested in this at this point, and nothing will make you publicly change your mind out of fear of looking stupid on your own blog, but I encourage you, privately, to do a little research on this. It is a HUGE problem in modern journalism. Even Obama era officials complained about it.

                The “German Government” is not a named source. You know this. Minister So-and-so from the German Government IS. You know the difference, I know you do, so let’s stop pretending. A news story with NO named sources is simply not racially believable. Anonymous sources augment, they don’t supplant. No actual journalist is taught this is how you write. If you disbelieve me, head on across campus and talk to a professor over in the journalism dept.

                But really, I’ll drop this now, because you are NEVER going to back down an inch anyway.

  2. Michael says:

    This claim of yours is just nonsense: “Anonymous sources augment, they don’t supplant.”

    Instead of digging yourself deeper, go read the NYT policy on anonymous sources. I’m not endorsing it as a perfect model, just citing it as evidence of the fact of current journalistic practices, and what the disputed phrases I quoted above indicate. Hint, it begins as follows:

    The Times sometimes agrees not to identify people who provide information for our articles. Under our guidelines, anonymous sources should be used only for information that we think is newsworthy and credible, and that we are not able to report any other way.

    We realize many readers are skeptical about the credibility and motivation of unnamed sources; some even question whether the sources exist. We have rules and procedures to try to address those concerns.

    Besides the reporter, at least one editor must know the identity of the source.

    So when the NYT cites to ‘German officials’ it has more than one, known (to two people), sources in the German government, and is using shorthand. Some other outfits probably are not as careful.

    I know there’s a lot of stress around and people need to vent. But really?

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