Why Does The Trump Administration Openly Try To Discredit Dr. Fauci?

Dr. Fauci is a doctor and apolitical scientist caught in the politics of the pandemic. Karen Jang writes about the discord between Dr. Fauci and The White House administration.

Photo by Shealah Craighead

Dr. Fauci was the leading scientific expert on humanity’s worst infectious diseases, including AIDS, Ebola, and SARS, over many decades, and is now tackling the worst of all, SARS-CoV-2, or the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many of his statements have undermined President Trump’s own regarding the pandemic.

President Trump cannot directly fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has strong bipartisan support after serving as the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for more than 50 years and says that he has no intention to.

Recently, Trump said, “Today I walk in and I hear I’m going to fire him.” He continued, “I’m not firing. I think he’s a wonderful guy.”

However, the Trump administration limited the number of times that Dr. Fauci can make an appearance and give a public statement. 

The CBS News host, Margaret Brennan, reported on June 12th that the White House refused to approve an interview with Dr. Fauci for three months so far. According to a senior administration official who told The Post, Fauci no longer briefs Trump and is “never in the Oval [Office] anymore.” The two have not spoken since the first week of June, according to another anonymous person within the White House who has knowledge of Trump’s calendar.

The Trump administration says that Dr. Fauci “isn’t always right.” Yet the majority of Americans trust Fauci over Trump on the coronavirus response.

As the nation’s leaders debate whether to reopen the economy or continue lockdown in some states, most Americans look up to Dr. Fauci as the more reputable and trustworthy beacon of correct information about the coronavirus compared to President Trump. A recent New York Times poll reported that “67% of voters trust Fauci for information on the coronavirus compared to 26% who trust Trump.”

Rather than two leaders collaborating on how to tackle the pandemic, Fauci’s and Trump’s statements often contradict.

In recent interviews, Trump repeatedly said that he “disagrees” with Fauci on his evaluation that the coronavirus is getting worse —not better— in the U.S. Fauci’s concerns are reflected in the data: On Tuesday, June 14, a tally from Johns Hopkins University reported another record-high of 67,400 new coronavirus cases.

In an interview on a FiveThirtyEight podcast  Dr. Fauci said, "As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don't think you can say we're doing great. I mean, we're just not." The same tally from Johns Hopkins University reveals that the U.S. is still leading in the highest number of confirmed cases and COVID-related deaths. Today, on June 16, the U.S. has 3,499,771 total confirmed cases so far and 137,420 deaths.

In an appearance on a Facebook Live event with Senator Doug Jones, D-Ala., Dr. Fauci disputed Trump’s claim that the country’s low death rate shows that the U.S. made a lot of progress in its coronavirus response. Fauci called this “a false narrative” and warned, “Don’t get yourself into false complacency.”

On Independence Day, Trump rallied in his Mount Rushmore speech, “We have tested over 40 million people. But by doing so, we show cases, 99% of which are totally harmless.” When asked about Trump’s response, Fauci contradicted this statement by telling the Financial Times that this was “obviously not the case.”

The anonymous memo against Dr. Fauci 

When the anonymous White House official sent the list of Dr. Fauci’s mistakes, he said that Dr. Fauci “argued early in the outbreak that there was no significant asymptomatic transmission and downplayed the risk of community transmission,” although other infectious disease experts said similar things at the time based on the data that existed then.

Adm. Brett Giroir, the Assistant Secretary for Health under the Trump administration, also echoed, "Dr. Fauci is not 100 percent right, and he also doesn't necessarily — and he admits that — have the whole national interest in mind," he said. "He looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view."

"Fauci's supporters acknowledge those early mistakes, attributing them to the challenges posed by a new, largely unknown pathogen," reported The Post. "They agree he downplayed the possibility of the virus spreading from person to person in January and early February, even as it quietly seeded itself in communities on the East and West coasts. And, like several other public health officials, he initially said the public shouldn't wear masks, but now strongly recommends it, especially when individuals can't maintain distances of at least six feet from other people."

However, the attempt to discredit Fauci and the prevalent hashtag, #FireFauci, alarmed many Americans and public health experts. Many notable individuals and organizations spoke out in vehement defense of Dr. Fauci in response. 

A coalition of experts quickly jump to Dr. Fauci’s defense

Dr. Fauci faces a strenuous task during this pandemic. As an apolitical public figure, doctor, and scientist, Dr. Fauci does a remarkable job. Despite mystery still shrouding the novel coronavirus, he updated his advice according to new findings about the virus and could not have predicted the current severity of the epidemic back in late February

"The White House attacks on Dr. Fauci are unfair and dangerous," said Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general who served under former President Barack Obama. He tweeted, "he's been right on #COVID19 far more than the politicians who blame him. During pandemics, science is your guide-even if it's politically inconvenient. Covid is surging. We need to hear more from scientists, not less."

Additionally, the American College of Physicians (ACP) issued a statement strongly supporting Dr. Fauci, America's top infectious disease specialist. 

The statement reads, “as the number of cases and deaths increase, more than ever, we support Dr. Anthony Fauci in his effort to help stop the spread of Covid-19 and are disturbed to hear of any efforts to discredit him. ACP holds Dr. Fauci in high esteem as he is a Master (MACP) of the College.” They explained, “Election to Mastership recognizes outstanding and extraordinary career accomplishments and ongoing individual service and contributions to the practice of medicine.”

Furthermore, they urged “national, state and local officials to heed the advice and information from leading experts” because “only then can we chart a path forward toward controlling Covid-19.”

“We stand united with the health care community, including experts, like Dr. Fauci, who is working tirelessly to end this crisis,” endorsed America’s physician’s organization, protecting Dr. Fauci from this very public yet behind-the-scenes effort to smear his reputation and credibility.

A coalition of engaged citizens stands behind Dr. Fauci as well.


 

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