WASHINGTON — The Trump administration removed a top Food and Drug Administration communications official from her post on Friday in the wake of several controversial agency misstatements, a senior administration official confirmed to STAT.
The spokeswoman, Emily Miller, had played a lead role in defending the FDA commissioner, Stephen Hahn, after he misrepresented data regarding the use of blood plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients. The New York Times first reported Miller’s ouster.
Miller’s tenure at as the top FDA spokeswoman lasted only 11 days. Her appointment was viewed with alarm by agency officials who felt her presence at the agency was emblematic of broader political pressure from the Trump administration, STAT first reported earlier this week.
Before joining the FDA, Miller had no experience in health or medicine. Her former role as assistant commissioner for media affairs is typically not an appointment filled by political appointees. The FDA’s communications arm typically maintains a neutral, nonpolitical tone.
Miller’s appointment particularly alarmed FDA staff and outside scientists given her history in right-wing political advocacy and conservatism journalism. Her résumé included a stint as a Washington Times columnist, where she penned columns with titles that include “New Obamacare ads make young women look like sluts,” and a 2013 book on gun rights titled “Emily Gets Her Gun: But Obama Wants to Take Yours.”
She also worked as a reporter for One America News Network, a right-wing cable channel that frequently espouses conspiracy theories and has declared an open alliance with President Trump.
Miller quickly made her presence known at the FDA. In the wake of Hahn’s misstatements on blood plasma, she aggressively defended the commissioner, falsely claiming in a tweet that the therapy “has shown to be beneficial for 35% of patients.”
An FDA press release on blood plasma, issued less than a week after her appointment, similarly alarmed agency insiders by trumpeting the emergency authorization as “Another Achievement in Administration’s Fight Against [the] Pandemic.”