Dr. Anthony Fauci has had a whirlwind 48 hours since his emails were obtained by the Washington Post and Buzzfeed via FOIA release and dispersed to the world. The remarkable emails have confirmed what many have suspected about Fauci all along: His public relations spin on the coronavirus pandemic was often at odds with his apparent thinking on the issues behind the scenes.
Despite the actual science being discussed in the emails, much of what Fauci had to say to the public was biased in favor of supporting mask mandates and lockdowns. This suggests that Dr. Fauci’s talking points, as well as the governors’ policies in blue states, were more motivated by politics in an election year than they were by “science.” (This is borne out by data that shows that blue states were among those that suffered the worst from the COVID-19 outbreak and their public policies also did the most economic damage.)
On Wednesday, Fauci did a couple of interviews to attempt to quell the brewing public furor. His late night interview with The Donlon Report on NewsNation, guest-hosted by former Fox News anchor Leland Vittert, is of particular interest. The interview was noted and screengrabbed by MRC:
Dr. Fauci prefaced his responses on the grounds that the emails “are really ripe to be taken out of context where someone can snip out a sentence in an e-mail without showing the other e-mails.”
The most noteworthy bits have to do with two exchanges regarding Fauci’s emails. The first is regarding the controvesy over the public wearing of common masks to prevent the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 virus from one host to another.
A brief overview of the email for the “context” the Fauci demands in discussing such matter is laid out in a post at the National Pulse. The email shows Dr. Fauci’s response to an Obama staffer about wearing masks. It is available in full below:
Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection. The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a vey low risk location. Your instincts are correct, money is best spent on medical countermeasures such as diagnostics and vaccines.
Fauci later remarked about the mask email: “It is a complicated issue.” Fact-checkers have rushed to Fauci’s defense and even censored the National Pulse’s story on Facebook, apparently because Fauci later confessed to misleading the public to supposedly protect PPE supplies.
As one can clearly see from the email, this exchange from February 2020 had nothing to do with PPE availabiliy for medical workers. Nor did Fauci’s scientific-based admission, something critics have been hammering to no avail since the mask mandates were implemented, cause him to speak up as businesses, schools and public buildings insisted that citizens wear masks, sometimes for 8 hours a day or longer.
But the response that the National Institutes of Health director gave on the Wuhan laboratory is even more concerning. The doctor appeared to be at a loss for Vittert’s pressing of Fauci on how one could trust the Chinese government to be forthright about the military applications of the gain-of-function research being carried out in the laboratory.
“Other than taking the Chinese word for it, do we have any idea on what’s going on inside the Wuhan lab or what went on inside the Wuhan lab?” Vittert asked.
Dr. Fauci once again asked for things to be ‘put in context,’ while insisting that the Chinese scientists that were working on the coronavirus research were “credible” and “trusted.”
Vittert rightly pushed past this response as if it were missing the point. The following is a transcript of the back-and-forth.
“Where it’s talking about businesses, which is lower than even Chinese government scientists, to have members of the ruling Communist Party in that company, a requirement that will allow the Chinese military access to the company’s intellectual property,” Vittert said about an email on the issue. “It’s a distinction without a difference between the Chinese Communist Party, the government and the Chinese military. And I guess from hearing from you is we should just trust the Chinese when they say—”
“No,” Fauci objected.
“Oh, the military has nothing to do with this,” Vittert continued. “We should believe them.”
“No,” Fauci reiterated. “What I’m — what I’m saying is that we have very many years of experience of productive interaction with Chinese scientists. For example, Dr. George Gal who’s the director of the Chinese CDC, has been a colleague for many years. He’s a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. Number one, number two, the science is there and others that we dealt with — with the original SARS, with the influenza virtually every year. The scientists are experienced with them.”
Vittert dismissed the defense and stated “all of the comments that were made about what happened inside that lab are based essentially on taking the Chinese word for it” and “it seems pretty clear that the Chinese lied about a number of things[.]” Fauci did not disagree on the latter point. It appears that Fauci was dejected and disappointed by the end of the interview, but it is hard to say whether it was about the Chinese government’s behavior or having to defend his emails on-air.
Contrast this pugnacious interview style with that of Nicolle Wallace, a former White House communications director who appears to have set out to rehabilitate Fauci’s deteriorating public image.
MSNBC’s @NicolleDWallace scores the first interview w/ Fauci since his emails were made public and uses it to say: “The true mark of someone is if they look good even when their personal emails come out, so you pass the test very few of us would pass." pic.twitter.com/SNMXBrXm5v
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) June 2, 2021
“The true mark of someone is if they look good even when their personal emails come out, so you pass the test very few of us would pass,” Wallace said.
This is not even poor journalism. It is not even poor public relations. It is the very essence of propaganda that is obviously intended to prevent the public from digging into the Fauci emails and scrutinizing their contents.
“What they didn’t seem to understand… is that science is a dynamic process,” Fauci told Wallace at one point in the interview. “So something that you know in January, you make a recommendation or comment about it, but as you get more and more information, the information leads you to change because that’s what science is, it’s a self-correcting process. So when you hear someone say something at one point and then two or three months later, if you stick with what you said at the original time when you had one-fifth of the data that you have now, I think that would be inappropriate.”
The issue is that Fauci didn’t evolve in terms of his support for mask mandates and lockdowns, despite the widespread data suggesting that they were ineffective. The public policies did tremendous psychological, social and economic damage to the United States, and we can see now that the scientific basis undergirding Dr. Fauci’s actual thinking on the issues was much more in line with that of the critics of these policies, who were ignored or censored by the media.
The states that actually ignored Dr. Fauci’s public positions and followed the science, states like Texas and Florida, did not disproportionately suffer health consequences from the pandemic; but the economic vitality of these states, as well the quality of life for the citizens who lived there, was greatly enhanced. The real world test of Dr. Fauci’s pronouncements prove that his critics were right, and the liberal elite ‘scientific consensus,’ once again, was disastrously wrong.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.