Top Virus Expert Told to Shut Up

Anthony Fauci is the premier public health expert on viruses and their spread. He has been the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a branch of NIH, since 1984.

Dr. Fauci has advised six Presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world. www.niaid.nih.gov/…

Dr. Fauci has been on the forefront of explaining to the public what the coronavirus is, how much we need to be concerned about, and what we can do about it. Even Fox News listens to him with respect: Dr. Anthony Fauci tells public to be prepared for coronavirus, but still 'do the things you always do'

And the Trump administration just told him to stifle it.

We have several diaries up about Trump’s incoherent “press conference” and the ways in which the administration is more interested in managing the message than the disease, including this front page story. But I want to highlight the Fauci aspect in detail because it stands out as a stark example of just how far the Great Orange Shitgibbon is willing to screw the country to salve his ego.

In the middle of WaPo’s column by Paul Waldman, Pence’s new mission on coronavirus: A controlled message, I found this bit:

Fauci is probably the most respected public health official in the United States; there is no one better equipped to explain what is happening with the coronavirus, what is likely to happen, and how we should react to it. Now, he’s been muzzled.

Why, you ask? (As if you didn’t know.)

[W]hen it was time for the career civil servants to speak, they addressed the issue without mentioning Trump at all. You could almost feel him seething in the background.
In fact, Fauci directly contradicted Trump on one vital question. Trump claimed that a vaccine for this virus is right around the corner: “The vaccine is coming along well. And in speaking to the doctors, we think this is something that we can develop fairly rapidly.”
But when Fauci spoke, he made clear that while they hope to identify a vaccine in the next few months, even if they do it will take at least a year before it could be verified to be safe and be ready to be distributed.
“If this virus — which we have every reason to believe it is quite conceivable that it will happen — will go beyond just a season and come back and recycle next year — if that’s the case, we hope to have a vaccine,” he said. [emphases added]

We all know Trump cannot bear to be seen in the wrong, or even slightly less than totally, completely, perfectly right. Dr. Fauci felt that, for the sake of the health and welfare of the people of the United States, he had to set the record straight on the prospects of the vaccine. In order to do this, he committed the one pardonable sin: He contradicted Trump. To make it worse, he did while Trump was standing right behind him.

That’s worse than what the Birmingham NOAA office did when it put out a message telling Alabamans not worry about Hurricane Dorian. And they didn’t even realize they were contradicting The Ego That Must Not Be Crossed. And look what happened to them. Dr. Fauci stood in front of Trump on national TV, at a presser Trump had called, and said to the nation that what Trump had just told them Was Wrong.

I have no doubt Fauci’s days at NIAID are numbered. The only question, as I see it, is whether Trump can be persuaded that it’s bad optics to fire him now, while the coronavirus issue is still hot. Telling him that Fauci is the best person to help keep the country safe is absolutely not going to be a selling point with him.

And once The Ego That Must Not Be Crossed has vented his spleen on the good doctor, I want every Democrat to turn that into a campaign ad.