Trump attacks NYT over breastfeeding story
President Donald Trump on Monday attacked a New York Times story that reported how his administration attempted to weaken a World Health Assembly resolution to promote breastfeeding, saying women shouldn’t be denied access to formula.
The president’s tweet was spillover from a feud over a proposed breastfeeding resolution earlier this year at the WHA, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization. The U.S. opposed the resolution so strongly it threatened trade measures against the country that introduced it, according to the Times.
“The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out. The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don’t believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty,” Trump said in a tweet.
According to the Times, the resolution was written to encourage breastfeeding and to limit “inaccurate or misleading” marketing for breast milk substitutes. The resolution, introduced by Ecuador, did not bar the use of formula.
When attempts to soften language in the resolution were unsuccessful, the U.S. stunned the global community by threatening retaliatory trade measures against Ecuador and the withdrawal of military aid, according to the Times report.
Ecuador backed off, as did a number of countries that said they feared the same retaliation. The resolution was later introduced by Russia. At that point, the U.S. did not fight back, the Times noted.
The lead agency involved in the resolution negotiations, the Department of Health and Human Services, denies the U.S. made any trade sanction-related threats. HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley touted the country’s “long history” of support for breastfeeding in a statement Monday afternoon.
“Recent reporting attempts to portray the U.S. position at the recent World Health Assembly as ‘anti-breastfeeding’ are patently false,” Oakley said. “The United States was fighting to protect women’s abilities to make the best choices for the nutrition of their babies. Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies.”
The Times defended its reporting in a tweet to the president, and provided a link to the story in question.
“Our report is accurate. You can read it here,” the Times said.