Celebs back away from Trump admin.’s $300M COVID-19 ad campaign

The shadow of a reporter with a microphone falls on the wall behind a man in a suit.

Enlarge / Former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

The Trump administration's more-than-$300-million "public advertising and awareness campaign" on the COVID-19 pandemic is floundering as A-list celebrities back away and staff at the Department of Health and Human Services express opposition, according to reporting by Politico.

The campaign—organized by former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo—was intended to "defeat despair" and bolster confidence in the Trump administration's response to the pandemic. A central feature of the campaign would be video interviews between celebrities and administration officials, who would discuss the pandemic and the federal response.

To pull it off, Caputo and his team requisitioned $300 million that Congress had previously budgeted for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also made a list of more than 30 big-name celebrities that they hoped to appear in the Health Department's videos, including Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Billy Joel, Britney Spears, Bruno Mars, Bon Jovi, and Madonna.

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