CNN medical expert gets abruptly fact-checked after claiming ‘the science has changed’ on mask mandates: ‘The polls changed’

CNN medical expert and former Planned Parenthood president Dr. Leana Wen incited mockery on social media after she claimed Monday that mask mandates are no longer necessary because “the science has changed.”

Wen’s comments came after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) announced that mask mandates for schools in each state would soon end.

What did Wen say?

Speaking on CNN, Wen explained that she agreed with New Jersey’s and Delaware’s decisions because, in part, “the science has changed.”

“There was, and is, a time and place for pandemic restrictions. But when they were put in, it was always with the understanding that they would be removed as soon as we can,” Wen said. “And, in this case, circumstances have changed — case counts are declining. Also, the science has changed.”

Wen, however, did not address what “science” has changed, or what “science” once showed that mask mandates in schools were absolutely necessary.


Perhaps most ironic about Wen’s interview is that she said the conversation about face masks must now shift from government mandates to “individual responsibility.”

“In this case, I’m not saying — I don’t think anyone, really, is saying — that no one should ever wear masks. But rather that the responsibility should shift from a government mandate imposed from the state or the local district of the school … it should shift to an individual responsibility by the family, who can still decide that their child can wear a mask if needed.”

The admission comes just weeks after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) empowered parents to do exactly what Wen suggested by signing an executive order moving the power to determine masking from school officials to individual parents.

Democrats grumbled over Youngkin’s order, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki as recently as Monday complained about it — all while praising Murphy’s decision.

What was the reaction to Wen?

Wen’s comments triggered a tsunami of reaction online, the consensus of which went something like this: “science” has not changed — only Democrats’ political standing has changed.

  • “The polling numbers have changed. The political landscape has changed. That’s why you’re promoting a different propaganda message now. That’s all. If the science itself had changed, we’d see new peer-reviewed studies that indicate the change,” psychology professor Geoffrey Miller said.
  • “As others noted, there is nothing in The Science™ that changed to justify Dem politicians suddenly ending mask mandates. All that changed is the political fear they have. Conflating ‘The Science’ with politics like this is a key reason many lost trust in public health experts,” Glenn Greenwald observed.
  • “Has anything fundamentally changed in the last six months, except for Democrats finally, belatedly realizing that militant masking is a political loser? The science didn’t change, the politics changed,” Reason editor Robby Soave said.
  • “The science didn’t change, the polls changed,” entrepreneur David Sacks reacted.
  • “‘The science’ is the method, not the data. ‘The science has changed’ is something you say when you’re unscientific but want to sound to lay people like you are,” Noam Blum pointed out.
  • “The ‘science’ hasn’t changed. The wind has… And they see which way it’s blowing,” actor Rob Schneider said.
  • “Weird. ‘I trust the science’ has been the go-to moral response to questioning CDC policy. Now we’re told the science can change. Are we still not allowed to question CDC policy?” commentator Becket Adams questioned.
  • “No, the science didn’t change. Politics and agendas did. Corona restrictions like lockdowns, mask mandates, and antisocial distancing are cut from the cloth of pseudoscience. It’s what happens when you allow hypochondriacs to drive public policy,” another person pointed out.
  • “What happened to Leana’s original ‘The science is settled’ argument? History will not be kind to people like her,” one person said.
  • “This is gaslighting. She is brazenly lying, her statements flying in the face of all evidence, most of which has been there for more than 2 years. This is what happens when sociopaths get caught–they double down on their lies. They never stop lying,” author Tucker Max observed.

Right on cue, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Tuesday that Democrats need to begin communicating “a clear off-ramp” on the pandemic.


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