“Alternative Facts”: Yours, Mine, and Those Of The Presidents

“Alternative Facts”: Yours, Mine, and Those Of The Presidents


Leonard Zwelling

I think that we all readily accept the fact that we may be living in an alternative universe inhabited by cats whose bodies fade but leave their grins behind, and “hookah smoking caterpillars.”

Alice is alive and well and living in Washington, DC and Houston, Texas.

Nicholas Fandos published a great article in the NY Times that documented the lies told by the President and by his adviser and press secretary. This all occurred before their first weekend on the job was over.

The President lied to those gathered at the CIA in Langley, VA about his contentious relationship with the intelligence community which included likening them to Nazis. He may have forgotten. I doubt they had. I am sure they were incensed when he stood before the wall with the stars that represent fallen CIA officers and distorted his relationship with those in the room and their many colleagues across the world.

Then Press Secretary Sean Spicer blasted the media for correctly reporting that Mr. Trump’s Inaugural crowds were many times smaller than those of President Obama. Why this even matters is beyond me, but his thin-skinned boss simply couldn’t live with the notion that he might not have been first in something. Thus, this poor show in which anger prevailed and no questions were allowed. Spicer’s light gray suit fit awkwardly as well.

Then, to make absolutely sure that you knew you had fallen into an Interstellar-like black hole, Kellyanne Conway, hysterically mocked on SNL by Kate McKinnon (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sb9ybImGwkU), got into a verbal shoving match with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press over her version of “alternative facts.”

Mr. Todd, to his credit, defined alternative facts as “falsehoods.”

Yep, that about sums it up. These guys are the gang who can’t shoot straight one day into their four-year run. Wow!

Now if only someone would write an article like the one written by Mr. Fandos about what comes out of the mouths of Drs. DePinho, Buchholz and Mr. Fontaine. Wouldn’t that be helpful? I want someone to help me understand when they are speaking the truth and when they are spewing “alternative facts.”

Here are a few I want addressed.

Did the Shared Governance Committee really recommend the layoffs to Dr. DePinho or was that his idea?

Is Dr. DePinho free and clear of all conflicts of interest with regard to companies he has started or shares in those biomedical or drug companies he or his family holds?

(As a subtext, I would like to know if Chancellor McRaven really has confidence in the President of MD Anderson and if he does, why? Ditto why does the Faculty Senate has confidence in this president?)

As for Dr. Buchholz, I would like to know how he knows the layoffs will not affect the quality of care at MD Anderson and by the way how good is that care anyway on an objective basis? Which patients benefit from coming to Anderson and which could do as well in Kentucky?

As for Mr. Fontaine, I just wish he would be honest about why the deficits keep piling up. It can’t all be EPIC. EPIC probably affects the volumes that can be pushed through the clinics, but surely on the revenue side, reimbursement is down, payer mix is upside down, and billing and coding must not be at peak efficiency. Who the heck is in charge of hospital and clinic operations anyway? That cannot be going well.

Judging by the many bills my household gets for care at Anderson, whether or not the bills are paid immediately, suggests at least whole forests are dying because of inept administration and bookkeeping.

And what about on the expense side?

Surely if another month revealed a $50M+ shortfall (as reported for December), the $10 million saved with the layoffs on a monthly basis will not offset the “carnage.” Surely, there must be great overspending on something besides people. If not, I am not sure how the institution ever gets ahead of the ever-increasing budget gap. They can’t layoff everyone!

I am going to suggest that Dr. DePinho get the Public Relations department to send out an email of frequently asked questions about the budget, and truthful answers to them—not alternative facts.

For a place that is supposed to rest on Integrity as one of its core values, that seems to be a small price to pay for eliminating alternative facts.

OK, OK. An email may be asking for too much. How about a tweet, Ron? Like from your golden-crested hero.

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