Former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate stormed off during an interview with MSNBC's Katy Tur after another guest, former acting Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Andy Slavitt, criticized his comments.
Fugate declared that he didn't have "time to listen to bullshit, people" as Slavitt spoke. The split-screen camera showed Fugate taking off his microphone as he made the remarks.
Former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate storms out of an MSNBC interview after being criticized— Lis Power (@LisPower1) March 19, 2020
Andy Slavitt: What you other guest is suggesting here is not helpful.
Fugate: I don't have time to listen to bull shit, people!
[storms off] pic.twitter.com/q3UsM1Id3S
Slavitt was disagreeing with Fugate over the degree to which the federal government should be involved in the coronavirus response. They both worked for the Obama administration, as Fugate headed FEMA for eight years, while Slavitt was acting CMS administrator from 2015 to 2017.
Fugate argued the states would have to have a big role in the response to the coronavirus, with the federal government getting out of the way.
“The myth of a single person in charge taking control and running this is a myth,” Fugate argued. “This is going to be dealt with on the front lines and local and state levels, and each state is going to be addressing this unique to their systems.”
“I’ve always believed the best way the federal government can support governors is to get out of their way, get them funding, use CDC to give guidance," he added. "As we’re running out of stuff, I’m asking, why are we not looking at idle capabilities now and governors go contract for that? Why wait for the federal government?”
Slavitt argued that more of a partnership was needed between state and federal governments and pointedly criticized Fugate's remarks.
"What your other guest is suggesting here is not helpful,” Slavitt said. “We need a great partnership between the federal and state government.”
After Fugate walked off, Slavitt said that while they did not know each other personally, he respected Fugate and acknowledged the stress everyone is under.
Tur also indicated she felt bad about the situation, asking if it was possible to get Fugate back to respond.
Fugate later apologized on Twitter.
"At the point I’m not helping, time to step back. 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," he wrote in a tweet to Tur.
Dear @MSNBC , @KatyTurNBC At the point I’m not helping, time to step back. 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 (@WCraigFugate) March 19, 2020
"We have always valued and appreciated @WCraigFugate’s time and expertise," Tur responded. "Tensions are obviously very high. We hope to have him back. We need people who know how things work now more than ever."
We have always valued and appreciated @WCraigFugate’s time and expertise. Tensions are obviously very high. We hope to have him back. We need people who know how things work now more than ever.— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) March 19, 2020
The U.S. death toll from coronavirus is at least 150 across 22 states as cases continue to spike as more testing becomes available.