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Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for the past 36 years, is a widely respected immunologist and major public face of the Trump administration’s response to COVID-19. Despite his credibility established over decades as a public health official, right-wing media have begun to launch attacks against “Dr. Doom Fauci,” blaming the medical expert for allegedly harming the economy and undermining President Donald Trump. The New York Times reported that Trump is “losing his patience” with Fauci.  

Despite lacking the platform of someone like Fox host Sean Hannity, fringe right-wing media figures and outlets — one of which formerly had a White House correspondent in the briefing room just to troll journalists — can still reach and influence the thinking of Trump, who is exposed to a wide range of ridiculous lies online.

Pro-Trump podcaster Bill Mitchell:

Pro-Trump blog The Gateway Pundit said the “Hillary Clinton fanboy … is heading down the path of those who show-up the boss in a time of crisis.” The blog also promoted two emails stolen by Wikileaks that showed Fauci “offered glowing praise” for Clinton.

The Gateway Pundit, 3/23/20

Newsmax TV’s John Cardillo:

Not all of these attacks are coming from outlets on the fringe, however — on Sunday night, Fox News host Steve Hilton aired a segment chastising Fauci as an out-of-touch elitist who has an “easy” time overreacting to coronavirus because “he’ll still have a job at the end of this, whatever happens.” Hilton’s argument was that “our ruling class and their TV mouthpieces” like Fauci “can afford an indefinite shutdown, working Americans can’t, they’ll be crushed by it.” Trump soon echoed Hilton’s main point that “the cure is worse than the disease.”

From the March 22, 2020, episode of Fox News’ The Next Revolution With Steve Hilton

STEVE HILTON (HOST AND FORMER ADVISER TO DAVID CAMERON): There’s a much better way to flatten the economic curve. Doctor Fauci says he’s fine overreacting.

(CLIP)

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI (IMMUNOLOGIST AND HEAD OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES): I like it when people are thinking I’m overreacting because that means we’re doing it just right.

(CLIP ENDS)

HILTON: Well that’s easy for him to say. He’ll still have a job at the end of this, whatever happens. Our ruling class and their TV mouthpieces — whipping up fear over this virus. They can afford an indefinite shutdown, working Americans can’t, they’ll be crushed by it.

You know that famous phrase, ‘The cure is worse than the disease’? That is exactly the territory we are hurtling towards. You think it’s just the coronavirus that kills people? This total economic shutdown will kill people. A UK study calculated that 130,000 people died avoidably from austerity there between 2012 and 2017. The years of austerity for America to pay the cost of this shutdown will be worse. Adjusting to the size of our economy, it’s over a million deaths. But the family thrown out of their home, the mom gets sick, the kids are orphans — her death won’t be counted. The dad who’s been out of work for 30 years and finally got a job last month and now he’s back on the scrap heap and turning back to drink and drugs. His death won’t show up in a neat little box on cable news.

Poverty kills, despair kills. This shutdown is deadly. The president announced a 15-day plan to beat the virus. After that, let’s say right, We came together to slow the spread, now let’s come together to protect the vulnerable, get the ventilators, get the beds, get the equipment for our heroic nurses and doctors. Keep the ban on large gatherings but stopped the total shutdown for everyone and start the total protection of the elderly and those most likely to need hospitalization. Don’t turn a public health crisis into America’s worst catastrophe.

Indeed, the argument that “the cure is worse than the disease” sweeping right-wing media can be seen as an attack on Fauci’s conclusions.

Photo by yagisu

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