Planet Princeton

Dr. Nancy Snyderman Breaks Silence on Ebola Quarantine

Snyderman

Princeton resident Nancy Snyderman, the former NBC News chief medical editor, has finally broken her silence about the Ebola quarantine.

Snyderman gave an exclusive interview to the Hollywood Reporter that is available online now and will appear in the Sept. 4 issue of the magazine. She discusses her time in Liberia with the cameraman who tested positive for Ebola, and then talks about her quarantine and her stop at the Peasant Grill in Hopewell that made national headlines. In the interview, she depicts herself as the victim in the ordeal, criticizing everyone from state health officials to local officials to the nurse who checked in on her every day.

“NBC set up a three-way call between 30 Rock, my team (huddled around an iPhone) and health commissioners from New York City, New York State and New Jersey. What we heard was not reassuring,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.  “Everyone was coming up with different recommendations for what to do with us when we came home. When one of the commissioners suggested to `continue this conversation offline,’ I knew they were making up protocols as they were going along.”

She said she was very confident that she was not at risk because the cameraman’s temperature was normal. She said the word “quarantine” was first spoken by Matt Lauer.

“I think the term he used on air was `voluntary quarantine’ while we were still in Liberia. `Nancy, you’re fine. You’ll be on a voluntary quarantine when you go home.’,” Snyderman told the Hollywood Reporter. “Things were moving so fast that I remember saying during the live interview, `Yes, we’re going to voluntarily quarantine ourselves when we get home’.”

Snyderman said she was not privy to or sensitive to the turmoil that was going on in the U.S. about Ebola.

“This was spinning out of control during that week we were in Liberia, and I was unprepared for the societal chaos that we walked back into,” she said.

Snyderman claims a health officer from the state joked about who would play him in a movie, and said he allegedly told her and the camera crew they were allowed to leave their homes and be in the car, but they were asked not to go to a grocery store or a movie theater; were required to take their temperatures twice a day, and were required to check in with the town’s health officer when they left the house. She claims the Peasant Grill invited them to come and pick up the sandwiches.

“The nurse always came in the evening. She’d arrive around 6:30 to check in on us, and she would laugh, saying, `I know it’s overkill, but it’s fun to come in and see you guys,’ and she wouldn’t leave. She either stayed for dinner or wine and cheese. It was almost like she thought it was a party,” Snyderman said. “She never actually checked on us; she just dropped in. So we were getting all these mixed signals about the seriousness of it. People were freaked out, but that was the state of the bureaucracy that we were dealing with: a wannabe actor and a nurse who came over only at cocktail hour.”

“On Friday, I had left my house and headed to a little place that had put some sandwiches out for us because they knew we were probably running out of food. It was just one of those simple small-town gestures,” Snyderman said. “I was waiting in my car while David grabbed the sandwiches when I was spotted by a woman, who then called 911. That night, I was served mandatory quarantine papers by Gov. Chris Christie.”

Snyderman said she did not realize how frightened people were.

“Suddenly I became the nexus for those fears,” she said. “I behaved correctly by the letter of the law. I knew I had never been infected. I had all the paperwork from the CDC. I had been in touch with a health officer. I never left my car. But that didn’t take into account how just downright scared people were, and so it came off as phenomenally arrogant.”

She blames the media and social media for stoking the flames.

“I will tell you I saw the mean side of social media and the number of people who wanted me dead — or worse. It was a traumatic time,” she said. “I never wanted to be famous — that’s not the reason I got into television. But man, oh man, did I see the ugly side of having too many people know who you are.”

Snyderman claims the Princeton Senior Center refused to give her 88-year-old mother her flu shot because they knew she had seen Snyderman.

“That was the low point,” she said. “My ex-husband, a freelance journalist who came to help, lost a story because someone didn’t want him riding in a car with them. I swear to God: If it had been Salem, I would have been burned at the stake.”

Reporters from TMZ stalked her house, she said. Someone put up wanted posters in downtown Princeton that said, “Anyone reported seeing Nancy Snyderman, please report her immediately to the police.”

“The posters listed my home address, which meant we had to then get the police involved to protect the neighbors,” she said. “I just kept thinking, `This too shall pass.’ And every day, it didn’t pass. Nobody is going to feel sorry for me, I recognize that. But it was horrid. It was so Kafkaesque. It just kept spinning out of control.”

Many Princeton residents had sympathy about the posters, but did not have sympathize regarding Snyderman’s trip to the Peasant Grill, even if she stayed in her Mercedes while another member of the crew went in to the restaurant.

Snyderman’s comments do not address the fact that she and NBC were very public about the fact that they were going to voluntarily quarantine themselves when they returned.

The veteran journalist and doctor was back in Princeton about four or five days before she was seen in public.  If she watched television or read the news during that time, she would have understood the state of fear about Ebola.

Some of her comments contradict statements made back in the fall. The issue of it being okay to go somewhere contradicts some statements officials made at the time, and the crew member who went in to get the sandwiches was also in Liberia with Snyderman.

Instead of responding to reports that she had been seen in public and saying back at the time that she and the crew were told they could leave the house, Snyderman and NBC chose to stay silent and did not respond to media inquiries. They could have directly addressed concerns back then. Instead they waited for days and issued a general statement. Snyderman did not address her fans on social media after tweeting and posting on Facebook that she would be quarantined. She had the opportunity at the time to defend herself and her claims about what she understood voluntary quarantine to mean if being allowed to go out truly was her understanding at the time. Instead she angered fans even more by issuing statements that did not take any responsibility. In her Hollywood Reporter interview she still doesn’t take responsibility for causing a panic by saying she would be quarantined and then going out in public, saying her quarantine “wasn’t really a quarantine.”

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Community Conscience

    Deflection, another Alinsky Rule for Radicals. You must have spent some time learning them.

  • FreshAir

    Thanks for this great comment L.D. You are so right about Dr, Snyderman. Sometimes there’s so much hot air blown around every little thing Princeton celebs & local officials do. They must feel they float on little clouds of awe just because of who are they are or what they do. when they go on about their work. The fact that their contributions are mediocre to average, or their work is not done at all, is obscured by publicity they often fuel themselves. This leaves those of us with our noses to the grindstone everyday suffocating & sweating a bit harder, as we make up for their lack of true effort & competence. Bottom line: Nancy Snyderman’s actions cost Princeton taxpayers money. Dr. Snyderman complicated & increased the work that police and local officials had to do, at a cost to all of us. Must WE really feel responsible for Nancy’s husband’s loss of some work, instead of focusing on the very serious problems of those in poverty who lack adequate medical care & support worldwide? I wish local celebs & officials would just focus on doing their jobs really really well in the first place…with integrity and a major commitment to public service first. And I’m not talking about groundbreaking, big headline work…I’m just wishing they’d do their basic job descriptions really really well. Then, we would ALL might be uplifted by some delightful accomplishments.

  • Bob Schwartz

    Too bad this incident fed the freakout, which got oddly politicized and amplified. But at least it is a reminder of the power of media; maybe we will all be more rational next time.

  • Community Conscience

    I might further point out, Krystal, that Smails actually agreed with the comment of mine that you deleted regarding descriptions of certain candidates, so how offensive could they have been?

  • Community Conscience

    Oh, I thank Elihu Smails for the personal attacks. It simply proves my original point, that Liberals do not believe that the rules apply to them.

  • Elihu Smails

    Yes, what little traffic there is on this board – let’s kill it

  • krystalknapp

    I’m reminding commenters of our commenting policy. Planet Princeton promotes civil dialogue and comments that cross the line will be deleted. Thank you. http://planetprinceton.com/planet-princeton-comment-policy/

  • Elihu Smails

    Yes, I like life without chronic anal itch.

  • Community Conscience

    Thank you!! Life is better without people with views like yours.

  • Susan Hoskins

    It is completely untrue that Princeton Senior Resource Center denied Mrs Snyderman a flu shot last year. PSRC hosts an annual flu shot and health fair day precisely to encourage as many people as possible to get a flu shot, other health screenings and information. This year our Health Fair will be Tuesday October 13 from 1-4, a collaboration with the Princeton Health Department, PHCS and Rite Aid.

  • Elihu Smails

    I don’t hang out with you.

  • Community Conscience

    Stop hanging out with the criminals and rapists and maybe your perspective on America will change to something more positive.

  • Elihu Smails

    Can’t disagree with the descriptions, and I’d favor any over the orangutan-headed loose cannon, or any of his new imitators – including our local “two large from Conte’s”, currently parading his thin record of accomplishments in NH as if it wasn’t, ladling out advice.

    Voting for Trump is like voting to give a monkey a loaded gun, but there he is, darling of the Guns and God crowd.

  • Community Conscience

    … said the person who favors a socialist, a liar or a buffoon (names withheld due to obvious identities).

  • Elihu Smails

    I’m sure the new hero of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, follows all the rules.

  • Community Conscience

  • good, bad and ugly

    sorry, but there’s no real ambiguity to be had on what voluntary quarantine means. Quarantine means only one thing — isolating yourself from other people. The only question is where such isolation is to take place, and it was also obvious that she was not being detained in a medical facility but was rather allowed to remain in her home. Her attempt at muddying the waters now and your attempt to inflate her contribution to the Ebola relief efforts don’t do much to change the basic truth of what was initially reported.

  • Elihu Smails

    Please tell us more, Palin voter.

  • SFB

    there was fundamentally a misunderstanding about what ‘voluntary quarantine’ meant. a lot of people assumed it meant staying in her house, but it didn’t. that was a misunderstanding. I asked the question at the time ‘what were the terms of the quarantine’? It wasn’t clear, but plenty of people had ideas about what they thought it meant or what it *ought* to be. And most of those thoughts came hand-in-hand with an eagerness to judge.

    so now retrospectively, nancy snyderman goes from being somebody whose work helped focus the world’s attention on a worrying infectious disease outbreak, helping to save thousands of lives and mobilize an effective international response, to a dilettante. pfffft. Did she make errors of judgement. Yes. did those errors put anybody at risk? No. (not my opinion- that’s the statement of the director of the Center for Disease Control). Do people enjoy tearing down high-profile women? You betcha.

  • L.D.

    I give the front line doctors in Africa great credit, I’m not sure how you give Nancy Synderman such lofty credit as a lifesaver. She wasn’t in Africa as a doctor, but as a highly compensated network news star. She didn’t break the ebola story, you could even say she profited, as obtained some fame and recognition by covering the story. She was not practicing medicine, at best she was reporting as a public health communicator and educator, and that is the role by which she should be judged. As a public health communicator and educator she utterly failed when she decided that promises to the public generally and to public health officials to follow specific restrictions don’t need to be kept if you are “Dr.” Nancy Synderman. Nancy Snyderman was not providing doctoring, she was selling a brand of “heath news” based on a trust in her intelligence and judgment, and her subsequent absolute arrogance and failure to take personal responsibility for her mistake – repeatedly – tarnishes that brand.

  • Community Conscience

    She is an example to all of us, a perfect example of how most liberals believe that the rules do not apply to them.

  • cloudy2

    Quarantine means strict isolation.One isn’t supposed to leave home. Does Snyderman read/watch/listen to the news? As a journalist, I think she does.Peasant Grill probably meant have someone pick them up, someone who wasn’t also on the trip.She doesn’t do Peasant Grill any favors.Peasant Grill needs to clarify that statement.

    Quarantines are for other people, not #ImportantTVstars, who like to stare into the misery of ebola, then leave and go into #PretendQuarantine.

  • SFB

    Nancy Snyderman,the arrogant journalist whose work helped save tens of thousands of lives in Africa.

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