- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2020

CNN’s expert panel for a Thursday town hall on the novel coronavirus features two doctors, a former Health and Human Services secretary, and a teenage climate activist who has yet to graduate from high school.

CNN announced Wednesday that its Global Town Hall, “Coronavirus: Facts and Fears,” would feature Greta Thunberg, the 17-year-old Swede known for her global-warming protests, not her medical expertise.

The other three panelists are CNN contributor Dr. Sanjay Gupta; Dr. Richard Besser, former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control; and Obama-era Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The network was promptly on Twitter roasted for its choice of Ms. Thunberg for the event hosted by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper.

“CNN Virus Townhall Features Greta Thunberg for Some Reason,” tweeted the conservative news outlet PJMedia.

“What place does Greta Thunberg have in this town hall?” tweeted journalist Yashar Ali.

Replied actor Daniel Newman: “She brings in viewers.”

Actress Rosanna Arquette defended the choice, echoing comments of climate activists who have sought to compare the novel coronavirus pandemic to the “climate crisis.”

“She’s a Leader in climate change works with scientists world wide,” tweeted Ms. Arquette, adding, “Pandemics will be a way of life until we address climate change seriously once and for all.”

It turns out Ms. Thunberg does have a COVID-19 connection: She partnered two weeks ago with UNICEF to “address the COVID-19 pandemic and protect children from its direct and knock-on consequences.”

“These include food shortages, strained healthcare systems, violence and lost education,” said the UNICEF press release of April 30.

Ms. Thunberg is best known for her Fridays for Future protests encouraging students to skip school on Fridays to attend climate-change rallies.

This isn’t the first time CNN has featured a climate activist on a COVID-19 panel. A week ago, former Vice President Al Gore was featured on the network’s coronavirus town hall.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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