In reviewing celebrities for a new $250 million coronavirus public service announcement campaign, the Trump administration weighed previous political statements and weighed whether any negative comments had been made publicly about President Donald Trump, as shown by new documents obtained by Democratic House leaders.
Singer Billie Eilish accused Trump of “destroying our country and everything we care about.
Actor Zach Galifianakis “refused to host President Trump on [his]talk show.
The singer and actress Jennifer Lopez used her Super Bowl halftime performance to push back Trump’s immigration policy.
And singer Christina Aguilera “is an Obama-supporting Democrat and a gay-rights-supporting liberal.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reviewed 274 celebrities, and the documents the House Democrats received from contractors show notes about their political views, including those who support Trump or have not spoken publicly about politics, alongside more typical review notes, including arrests and assault charges that could attract negative attention.
The details of the PSA plan were revealed in documents received by the Democratic Chairs of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis and the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy from Atlas Research and DD&T Group, both contractors involved in the HHS efforts.
“When I first saw this list, I had to make a double entry,” U.S. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat who chairs the Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee, told Tekk.tv. “It looked so bizarre and out of place in terms of a government contract.”
“To me, it almost feels like a McCarthy-like enemy list for the Trump administration,” he added.
The documents suggest that only 10 celebrities made it onto the “approved” list, while several others declined to participate, including singers Britney Spears and Selena Gomez. After news of the deal and suggestions that his real goal was to push Trump’s candidacy for re-election, none of them pushed the PSA efforts.
At least one celebrity, comedian George Lopez, was expressly excluded from consideration because of his negative comments about Trump, according to meeting notes received by the legislature from the consulting firm. Lopez recently held a virtual campaign rally with Trump’s democratic rival Joe Biden.
“It is so clear that they were not judging celebrities on their reach or whether they would be a suitable spokesperson to make a PSA about the pandemic, but rather ‘What is their policy? said Krishnamoorthi.
Country music star Garth Brooks, who made it onto the “approved” list, was described as “politically silent and confident, said confidently, ‘it’s always about serving’ when the reporter asked him if he would appear at Trump’s inauguration.
It seems that not all celebrities were denigrated for their political views. The singer Marc Anthony, who is also on the ‘approved’ list, “revealed in 2016 that he is fully committed to voting for Hillary Clinton and respects Bernie Sanders,” according to notes on his review.
In addition to political views, the “PSA Celebrity Tracker,” which was maintained, also identified demographic characteristics that would appeal to any celebrity, including Black Americans, Asian Americans, senior Americans and “superspreaders.
The Health and Human Services Department did not respond directly to questions about the nature of celebrity screening.
“During his testimony before the House Select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, Minister Azar announced that he had “ordered a strategic review of this public health education campaign, to be led by high-level public health and communications experts, to determine whether the campaign serves important public health purposes. The review is underway,” an HHS spokesperson told Tekk.tv in a statement. “It was always planned to use only materials reviewed by a department-wide team of experts, including CDC scientists, who will ensure that the latest scientific information is used to provide important public health information.