There’s no evidence that any sort of sound causes cancer, but that didn’t stop White House communications director Mercedes Schlapp from pretending like there might be some merit to President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that wind turbines do just that.
During a speech on Tuesday evening, Trump — whose distaste for wind turbines dates back at least to 2006, when they interfered with his plans to build a golf course on the Scottish coast — told supporters that if they have a wind turbine their house, “congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value.”
“And they say the noise causes cancer,” he added. “You tell me that one, okay? Rerrrr rerrrr!”
TRUMP during NRCC speech: "If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, okay? Rerrrr rerrrr!" pic.twitter.com/lYmx84Yxk1— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 3, 2019
Suffice it to say there’s no evidence to support Trump’s claim, which was widely mocked and ridiculed by everyone from Chuck Grassley to Stephen Colbert. But instead of simply acknowledging that Trump was wrong and moving on, a top White House communications official on Wednesday refused to contradict the president.
During an exchange with reporters, White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp pretended as though there might be some basis to Trump’s claim.
“I don’t have an answer on that. I, I don’t, I don’t have an answer on that,” Schlapp said, when asked if she buys Trump’s claim. “Yeah, I don’t have an — I really don’t have information on that right now.”
A reporter followed up by asking Schlapp if she has anything to say “to American families that are concerned today that the president says wind turbines cause cancer.” She again demurred.
“I don’t have information on that; if I get a readout, I’m happy to update you on that,” she said, before walking away.
Question: "Do wind turbines cause cancer?"— The Hill (@thehill) April 3, 2019
Mercedes Schlapp, White House Director of Strategic Communications: "I don't have an answer to that." pic.twitter.com/cxcZHQoov2
The irony is that while wind turbines do not cause cancer, emissions from the coal power plants that Trump has worked so hard to revitalize have been linked with higher incidences of lung cancer. And while the administration stokes fake cancer fears, Trump administration officials have suppressed reports about carcinogens associated with formaldehyde, and rolled back health and environmental regulations aimed at preventing childhoods cancers that have subsequently become prevalent in communities like suburban Indianapolis.
This isn’t the first time White House staff has gotten involved in one of Trump’s big lies
In the Trump era, the White House communications staff has shown that no lie is too outrageous to defend.
One of the seminal moments of Trump’s presidency came on its very first day, when, during his very first appearance before the media as press secretary, Sean Spicer savaged the media for accurately reporting that Trump’s inauguration was attended by a relatively small crowd.
More recently, current press secretary Sarah Sanders played a leading role in the White House’s attempt to demean CNN reporter Jim Acosta with an altered video that originated with Infowars.
White House staff’s first loyalty seems to be to Trump, not the truth. Their attitude was encapsulated by an anonymous senior White House official who justified false claims the president used last fall to gin up fear about immigrants ahead of the midterm elections by telling the Daily Beast, “It doesn’t matter if it’s 100 percent accurate. ... This is the play.”