The issue of how big a role federal agencies should play in the response to the coronavirus outbreak led to some fireworks on MSNBC on Thursday.
“I don’t have time to listen to bull—-, people,” a fed-up Craig Fugate, a former administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said, as he took off his earpiece and stormed out of the set during an interview with the network’s Katy Tur.
He bolted after another guest, Andy Slavitt – a former acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – claimed Fugate’s comments weren’t “helpful” in addressing the outbreak.
Fugate left while Slavitt was speaking.
The altercation started after Fugate said the federal government needed to get out of the way and allow state agencies to do their jobs.
Slavitt countered that the nation needed a central overseer, “someone looking through the entire system,” to respond to the outbreak. He added there should be a partnership between the states and federal government.
Both guests worked for the Obama administration, with Fugate heading FEMA for eight years, and Slavitt serving as acting CMS administrator from 2015-2017.
Fugate, Slavitt and the host would later respond on Twitter following the clash, with the two guests acknowledging their emotions got the better of them during a tense time for the country.
“Dear @MSNBC, @KatyTurNBC At the point, I’m not helping, time to step back,” Fugate wrote on Twitter. “Never was good at the talking head thing anyway. This is too critical of a time to let emotions get in the way. My apologies to you and your audience.”
“Craig my sincere apologies for contributing this,” Slavitt wrote in a response to Fugate. “Please keep informing people as you do. You’re a terrific public servant. We’re on the same team. Andy.”
“We have always valued and appreciated @WCraigFugate’s time and expertise,” said Tur. “Tensions are obviously very high. We hope to have him back. We need people who know how things work now more than ever.”