Former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate ripped out his earpiece and stormed out of a live MSNBC appearance on Thursday afternoon after another guest, Former Obama administration official Andy Slavitt accused him of not being “helpful” in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I don’t have time to listen to this bullshit, people,” Fugate said before walking off his remote set.
The dramatic moment came after Fugate, who ran FEMA from 2009 to 2017, argued that we cannot have a “single person” at the federal level taking charge of the crisis response but rather needed to rely on individual state governments to protect their residents. “I've always believed the best way the federal government can support our governors is to get out of their way,” he said.
“With all due respect to your other guest, there's not a governor in the country that's waiting for the federal government right now,” said Slavitt, who headed Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act under Obama. “They are all acting. What they need is coordination. Because we have, believe it or not, we have masks, we have a lot of these things. Guess where they are? They're sitting in the supply chain, people are profiteering off of them, or they're going to places where people are hoarding them.”
Slavitt said someone needs to be looking at the system as a whole to address these issues systemically. “We need a great partnership between the federal and state government,” he added.
That’s when Fugate left the building. “Craig, you want to sit down and respond to this?” host Katy Tur asked. “I guess Craig has left.”
“I don't know Craig personally, but I'm sure he's working as hard as anyone and trying his best,” Slavitt said. “Everybody is. These are unprecedented times, so understandable that he's frustrated.”
At the end of her following interview, Tur addressed the blow up by calling Fugate a “stellar” FEMA administrator and apologizing that it got so heated. “We have always valued and appreciated @WCraigFugate’s time and expertise,” she added on Twitter. “Tensions are obviously very high. We hope to have him back. We need people who know how things work now more than ever.”
Fugate and Slavitt also shared mutual apologies on Twitter.