Almost as quickly as she was installed as the FDA’s spokeswoman, Emily Miller is now out.
The controversial PR maven, a former reporter for right-wing cable network One America News and a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, was removed Friday by FDA commissioner Stephen M. Hahn after less than two weeks on the job, according to The New York Times. The FDA did not respond to a request for comment, but has removed her name from the Twitter account designated for use by the FDA spokesperson.
Miller’s ouster follows a contentious week at the federal agency, after officials inflated the benefits of convalescent plasma as a treatment for the coronavirus, sparking condemnation from health experts around the country. Under her leadership, the agency put out a press release touting the treatment as a “another achievement” in the administration’s “fight against the pandemic”—a boastful tone that veteran health journalists said was virtually unheard of for the nonpartisan agency.
The spokeswoman also refused to remove a tweet citing misleading data over the benefits of the treatment, despite the fact that Hahn apologized for repeating the same statistic in a press conference. The tweet, sent from the FDA spokesperson account during Miller’s tenure, claimed that convalescent plasma has “shown to be beneficial for 35% of patients.” A follow-up tweet noted that the study only examined patients given convalescent plasma with a high level of antibodies from COVID-19 to those given plasma with low levels.
Miller’s appointment initially drew scrutiny from those familiar with her work in conservative media, especially at OANN—a competitor to Fox News that skews even further to the right. Liberal watchdog Media Matters reported how her recent career had been littered with coronavirus misinformation and pro-Trump sycophancy. During her time as a reporter for OANN, she unabashedly trumpeted her support for the president, exchanging thank-yous with him on Twitter and posting about his admiration for her work on LinkedIn. In one tweet, she praised the president for his “calm demeanor” and “specific, factual answers” on COVID-19, saying his countenance was “perfect for this moment.”
Her tweets have also shown a lack of understanding of the virus itself, including one in which she falsely claimed that there is “zero scientific study to show there is long term health problems for covid patients.” She has also defended Trump’s use of the term “Kung Flu” and Vice President Mike Pence’s decision not to wear a mask during a visit to the Mayo Clinic.
On May 30, she flippantly wrote: “Remember coronavirus?” The number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. had recently passed 100,000. It is now more than 180,000 nationwide.
Miller previously served as deputy press secretary at the Department of State during George W. Bush’s administration, and as communications director to then-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, where she had a hand in bringing down disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Before joining OANN, she worked as an opinions editor for the right-wing Washington Times and then as an investigative reporter for FOX 5 DC, where she often drew controversy for her strident views on gun rights, as laid out in her book Emily Gets Her Gun: But Obama Wants to Take Yours.