Donald Trump watches as Dr Anthony Fauci speaks to reporters at a White House Coronavirus briefing (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)
UPDATE, OCT 16:
Upset that Dr. Anthony Fauci called out his campaign’s disinformation, Donald Trump trashes the leading Government expert on Coronavirus.
On Sunday, Fauci criticized the Trump campaign for taking his comments out of context and, without his permission, using them in a 30-second ad.
Then on Monday, Fauci said, “Large rallies are asking for trouble“, as Trump — recovering from Coronavirus — resumed the gatherings with no social distancing and few in the audience wearing masks.
The expert also challenged the White House’s embrace this week of “herd immunity”, allowing the virus to spread unchecked despite a US death toll which is now almost 218,000.
So on Thursday, Trump lied at a campaign stop in North Carolina that Fauci is a Democrat as the audience booed the mention of the doctor’s name.
In fact, voting records confirm that the expert has no political affiliation and Fauci said on Sunday that he avoided any support of a particular party.
Trump then misrepresented the doctor’s views at the outset of the pandemic in February, saying that Fauci told Americans to “not wear a mask under any circumstance”.
He said, “This is not a threat. This is not a problem. Don’t worry about this, it’s not a problem.” That’s the craziest thing. Then he said, “Do not wear a mask. Do not wear a mask under any circumstance. Don’t wear a mask — don’t, don’t, don’t,” right? So, we don’t wear a mask, then they say “Oh, wear a mask.”
I never saw — do you ever see any conflicts? But he’s a nice guy so I keep him around, right? We’ll keep him around.
Before the spread of the virus, Fauci said Americans should not worry, and that there was not yet evidence of a beneficial effect that masks protect those wearing them.. However, he was clear that the situation could change and needed to be taken seriously, emphasizing that more information and scientific understanding was needed.
Since the spring, with that information and understanding, Fauci and other public health officials have emphasized the threat of the virus, explaining how masks prevent its spread.
But Trump and his political appointees have belittled and pushed aside the experts, burying and altering their guidance.
The US death toll reached 217,700 on Thursday, with almost 8 million confirmed cases.
Declaration by group of scientists calling for approach that relies on "herd immunity" to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, which has been embraced by the White House, is "ridiculous" and "total nonsense," Dr. Anthony Fauci tells @GStephanopoulos. https://t.co/uqLkPK3a8V pic.twitter.com/GBkOGW7uP6
— ABC News (@ABC) October 15, 2020
ORIGINAL ENTRY, OCT 12: The Government’s top Coronavirus expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says the Trump campaign distorted and misused his words on the Coronavirus pandemic.
Trailing Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden and criticized over Donald Trump’s denial and mismanagement of the crisis, the campaign ran a 30-second ad which claiming backing for Trump from Fauci.
But the doctor, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a written statement to CNN on Sunday:
In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.
The ad, released after Trump obtained his discharge from Walter Reed Military Hospital last Monday while being treated for Coronavirus, proclaimed, “President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America.Together we rose to meet the challenge, protecting our seniors, getting them life-saving drugs in record time, sparing no expense.”
Fauci is then shown in a clip from an interview, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.”
In fact, in the March appearance on Fox TV, Fauci is referring to the White House Coronavirus Task Force, with numerous meetings and late-night phone calls.
We’ve never had a threat like this. The coordinated response has been — there are a number of adjectives to describe it — impressive. I think is one of them. We’re talking about all hands on deck. I, as one of many people on a team, I’m not the only person….
I can’t imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more.
Fauci made the comments in March as the White House, overcoming Trump’s denial of the threat, finally issued guidelines to contain the virus. But within days, Trump was insisting on the removal of the measures by Easter, April 12 for the “reopening” of the US. He failed to meet that deadline, but Republican Governors began lifting restrictions on restaurants, beaches, businesses such as tattoo parlors, and gyms and bowling alleys at the end of April to fulfil a Trump demand for a May 1 reopening.
The US death toll reached 214,771 on Sunday. Confirmed cases, which are rising at the fastest rate since mid-August, are 7,762,809.
Trump Campaign Doubles Down on Misinformation
Trump has effectively sidelined Dr. Fauci since late May, after Trump was ridiculed for his suggestion that ingestion of disinfectant as a possible cure for the virus.
White House briefings on the pandemic were suspended. Trump’s appointees, burying or altering medical and public health guidance, tried to prevent Fauci from being interviewed on national TV. Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist and Fox TV commentator, because Trump’s medical confidante. Advisors such as Peter Navarro, and Trump himself, assailed Fauci for being “mistaken” all the time.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh doubled down on the misleading ad on Sunday, and Trump immediately retweeted the statement.
They are indeed Dr. Fauci’s own words. We have done a “phenomenal” job, according to certain governors. Many people agree…And now come the Vaccines & Cures, long ahead of projections! https://t.co/ANqKL4eBqJ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2020
But the campaign may struggle to swing voters with the approach. While Fauci has a 68% approval rating among the US public, 62% of those polled criticize Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
In late July, Trump acknowledged the difficulty, “He’s got this high approval rating. So why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect — and the administration — with respect to the virus? We should have it very high.”
Trying to limit any damage, the White House blocked Fauci or any Task Force medical expert from being interviewed on ABC News Sunday.
White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah maintained on Twitter that Fauci had made multiple TV appearances during the week.