WASHINGTON — Michael Caputo, the new spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is being accused of racism after his tweets about Asians and the coronavirus have surfaced.
CNN reports that Caputo, a former senior advisor for the Trump campaign’s social media posts, deleted nearly all of these tweets on April 12, three days before he assumed his position as assistant secretary for public affairs at HHS.
On March 15, Caputo responded to conspiracy theories that the U.S. brought COVID-19 to Wuhan, China: “Sure, millions of Chinese suck the blood out of rabid bats as an appetizer and eat the ass out of anteaters but some foreigner snuck in a bottle of the good stuff. That’s it.”
When other Twitter users objected, Caputo told one, “Don’t you have a bat to eat?” and another, “You’re very convincing, Wang.” The user did not use the name Wang anywhere in his profile.
Two days later, Caputo posted a tweet that simply repeated “#ChineseVirus” 20 times in support of President Trump’s use of the term. When a reporter questioned Trump’s repeated use of the phrase, Caputo said that many Americans view reporters as the enemy of the people for “carrying water for the Chinese Communist Party.”
In other tweets, the HHS spokesman referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” and “Wuhan flu.” He also engaged with an account that used such terms as “Communist Party of China virus,” “PRC virus,” “CPC-19,” and “Xi flu.”
After CNN published a recap of the tweets on April 23, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) tweeted, “The anti-Asian bigot & racist Caputo must be fired today. His deranged, profane & hate-filled polemics disqualify him for public employment & he should quickly return to the rock he lives under. Asian Americans don’t deserve this appalling insult & neither do the rest of us.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus tweeted, “This racism is disgusting. Deleting the tweets isn’t nearly enough. He must be fired. There should be no place for bigotry and lies in our government. As the CDC said, ‘Stigma is the enemy of public health.’ Same for those who spread stigma.”
Along with his tweets about China and Chinese people, Caputo has suggested that Democrats are hoping hundreds of thousands Americans die so that they can benefit politically.
When a House Democratic lawyer who had tested positive for the coronavirus tweeted about an absence in leadership at the federal level, Caputo replied, “I started out feeling badly for you. At least now we know the Wuhan virus doesn’t have any lingering effects on douchebags.”
Caputo appears immune to criticism over his self-described “spirited” tweets, which he told CNN were “fair game, dude,” adding that he doesn’t mind that they are being brought to light.
“I report to the president of the United States, who creates controversy on Twitter to win every day, blowing the minds of the same hand-wringing leftists who think my tweets are a problem,” Caputo told USA Today. “Have fun with this distraction. I’m working 24/7 leading communications for the nation’s front-line Cabinet department in a deadly pandemic.”