Is President Trump finally getting ready to fire Dr. Fauci?
For the first time in the 2020 coronavirus crisis, President Trump has appeared to publicly put some major distance between himself and the Coronavirus Task Force’s principal medical advisor and spokesman, Anthony Fauci, M.D. For 36 years, Dr. Fauci has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, where he has directed the federal government’s decades-long, unprecedentedly well-funded campaign against HIV/AIDS.
Indications of President Trump’s mounting unhappiness with Fauci came in a tweet by the president yesterday at 6:51 PM EDT in which he retweeted a tweet by DeAnna Lorraine, a Republican who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Nancy Pelosi in the California primary last month, that included the line “Time to #FireFauci:”
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Sorry Fake News, it’s all on tape. I banned China long before people spoke up. Thank you @OANN
DeAnna Lorraine @DeAnna4Congress
Fauci is now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could've saved more lives.
Fauci was telling people on February 29th that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US public at large.
Time to #FireFauci...
Lorraine’s tweet referred to what Fauci said during an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday morning – comments that quickly went straight to the top of the daily news cycle on Easter Sunday, including a banner red headline for most of the day at the top of the Drudge Report, and trended on social media.
In his live interview with Tapper, Fauci appeared to throw cold water on the president’s intention to reopen the country to normal activity as quickly as possible. From CNN’s program transcript:
TAPPER: Based on what you know right now, when do you think the country will be ready to take some of these steps to reopen, based on the availability of testing? When do you see that happening?
FAUCI: You know, Jake, that's a great question.
And that's really what I was inferring when I said a rolling reentry. It is not going to be a light switch that we say, OK, it is now June, July or whatever, click, the light switch goes back on.
As the interview progressed, Fauci continued to dismiss a fast-track return to pre-Covid-19 “normal.”
The real news making quotes occurred a bit later on in the conversation.
TAPPER: Do you think lives could have been saved if social distancing, physical distancing, stay-at-home measures had started third week of February, instead of mid-March?
FAUCI: You know, Jake, again, it’s the what would have, what could have.
It’s – it’s very difficult to go back and say that. I mean, obviously, you could logically say, that if you had a process that was ongoing, and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously, no one is going to deny that.
But what goes into those kinds of decisions is – is complicated. But you’re right. I mean, obviously, if we had, right from the very beginning, shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different.
But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then. [emphasis added.]
And there it was. The first on the record assertion by someone at Fauci’s level that the administration’s, if not the president’s, alleged inaction, or “pushback,” at a critical time resulted in the loss of American lives.
Fauci’s comments, which occasioned the dramatic Drudge Report headline among many others in the media, came fast on the heels of the New York Times’ lead story about President Trump, also on Sunday:
He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus
An examination reveals the president was warned about the potential for a pandemic but that internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response.
The Times article, attributed to CNN contributor and Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman and five other reporters, cites purported internal emails to buttress its case that:
Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.
The Times story includes dozens of dramatic photos, many of them credited to the WHO. The article can be read in its entirety here at msn dot com without having to navigate the newspaper’s restrictive pay wall. Suffice it to say that it attempts to break major new ground in the dominant media’s and the left’s largely evidence-free contention that Trump fumbled the federal government’s response to Covid-19 since day one and that as a result Americans died.
Among the considerable evidence to the contrary, of course, is the series of highly public “no problem here” statements about the coronavirus rather late in the game by administrative state medical bureaucrats like Fauci. For example, in a series of interviews during the last week of January, Fauci, as The Hill headlined its article on January 26, said the coronavirus “isn't something the American public need to worry about.” Five days later, President Trump famously decided, as CNN reported, “to ban foreign nationals who had been in China within the previous 14 days from entering the United States.” At the time, the president’s bold actions to prevent the introduction of Covid-19 into the country by travelers from infected areas were criticized by former Vice President Joe Biden and most other Democrats and the media as “xenophobic” and “racist.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci on NBC Today Saturday February 29, 2020
More than a month later, on February 29, Fauci was interviewed live on NBC’s Saturday Today. The URL at NBC News that hosts the video is “dr-fauci-on-coronavirus-fears-no-need-to-change-lifestyle-yet.”
PETER ALEXANDER, TODAY SHOW CO-HOST: Dr. Fauci, it’s Saturday morning in America. People are waking up with real concerns about this. They want to go to malls, to movies, and maybe the gym. Should we be changing our habits, and if so, how?
FAUCI: Right now at this moment there is no need to change anything you’re doing on a day by day basis.
Making the most of the story, the New York Times late Sunday evening published a follow-up article, “Trump Lashes Out at Fauci Amid Criticism of Slow Virus Response,” taking note of the president’s tweets, including the one referenced at the start of this article. A copy of the article for free reading is here at msn dot com. The Sunday evening Times article, which is being published in today’s editions of the paper in print and online, attempted to place the current brouhaha into context:
Dr. Fauci’s comments, and the president’s pushback, come at a critical time as Mr. Trump wrestles with how fast to begin reopening the country. Public health experts like Dr. Fauci have urged caution about resuming normal life too soon for fear of instigating another wave of illness and death, while the president’s economic advisers and others are anxious to restart businesses at a time when more than 16 million Americans have been put out of work.
Dr. Fauci and the president have publicly disagreed on several issues, including how long it will take to develop a vaccine and the president’s aggressive promotion of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, whose effects are unproven against the coronavirus. At a coronavirus task force briefing last week, Mr. Trump stopped Dr. Fauci from answering a question on the drug.
Peter Baker, the author of this latest Times article, took some pains to defend the paper’s reporting which the president had consistently and strenuously objected to including in his series of tweets on Sunday – and in so doing, Baker kept the Times at the center of the MSM’s “breaking news.”
The president seemed particularly upset about a New York Times article documenting the administration’s slow response to the virus. “The @nytimes story is a Fake, just like the ‘paper’ itself,” he wrote Sunday night, denying that Mr. [Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex] Azar warned him “until later” and dismissing an early memo by another adviser, Peter Navarro, who warned of the prospect of 500,000 deaths. “Fake News!” [emphasis added.]
Peter Barry Chowka is a veteran journalist who writes about politics, media, popular culture, and health care for American Thinker and other publications. Peter's website is http://peter.media. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pchowka.