On December 14, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention was given a list of forbidden terms by the Trump administration, according to media reports. On that list are words and phrases that, from this point on, CDC officials will be banned from using when it comes to writing out their budget. After a 90-minute briefing, CDC representatives were informed that the phrases “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based” were no longer to be used as part of official reports. While the right is claiming that these terms are full of implicit liberal bias, the left is accusing the Trump administration of censorship.
When the Washington Post first broke the story on Friday, the media took hold of the news and ran with it. Only later did a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, come forward to tell the New York Times that: “The assertion that HHS has ‘banned words’ is a complete mischaracterization of discussions regarding the budget formulation process.”
Still, journalists and citizens alike are starting to notice the subtle changes in wording and questionnaires when it comes to official documents under the Trump administration. Just this March, an entire section with questions about sexual orientation was removed from an HHS survey for elderly individuals.
The forbidden words list, in addition to counting as censorship, could also make it increasingly difficult for the CDC and HHS to do their job when it comes to gathering information on AIDS patients, Zika virus, and reproductive health for affected or at-risk Americans.
Though the forbidden terms only apply to the wording of the CDC budget, it could still pose problems for millions of Americans who are counting on government support.