Dr. Anthony Fauci claims that anyone who criticizes him is criticizing science.
In an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke to host Margaret Brennan about the criticism he faces from Republicans like Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, who have demanded his resignation for his repeated failures to properly advise the American public on a variety of issues surrounding COVID-19.
At the onset of the pandemic early last year, Fauci infamously downplayed the effectiveness of N-95 masks, later reversing his stance to advise the public to mask up. At the time, he said he did so to discourage members of the public from severely impacting the availability of masks to first responders and healthcare workers.
In June, emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that Fauci stated that masks are “not really effective at keeping out virus,” Newsweek reported.
“Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection,” he said in an email dated February 2020 to Sylvia Burwell, the former Health and Human Services Secretary under the Obama administration.
“The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through material,” he wrote. “It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keep out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you.”
The email leaks were damning for Fauci, who was facing a Congressional inquiry over his involvement with gain-of-function research.
“Dr. Fauci, do you still support funding of the NIH funding of the lab in Wuhan?” Paul asked Fauci at the inquiry.
“Senator Paul, with all due respect, you are entirely, entirely and completely incorrect,” Fauci hit back. “The NIH has not ever and does not now fund gain of function research in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
Rand Paul blasted Fauci over the email controversy, noting “there’s a lot of evidence that he has a great deal of conflict of interest,” over his involvement in gain-of-function research in China,” Rebel News reported.
Paul later said in July that he would ask the Justice Department to investigate Fauci over lying to congress about gain-of-function research, Rebel News reported.
Speaking to Brennan, Fauci described the pandemic as a “total political football, total.” Fauci said that the calls for him to step down were just “noise.”
Asked how he deals with threats and criticisms, Fauci replied that he “dealt with it by focusing on what my job is.”
“From the time that I went into medicine to the right now, where I am at my age, my job has been totally focused on doing what I can with the talents and the influence I have to make scientific advances, to protect the health of the American public,” he continued. “No, anybody who spins lies and threatens and all that theatre that goes on with some of the investigations and the congressional committees and the Rand Pauls and all that other nonsense, that’s noise … that’s noise. I know what my job is."
He next suggested that Sen. Ted Cruz deserves to be prosecuted for the events of January 6, after Brennan asked him what his thoughts were on the Texas senator’s calls for him to face the Justice Department.
Finally, Fauci suggested that any attack on him was really an attack on science.
“I mean, anybody who’s looking at this carefully realizes that there’s a distinct anti-science flavour to this,” said Fauci. “So if they get up and criticize science, nobody’s going to know what they’re talking about. But if they get up and really aim their bullets at Tony Fauci, people could recognize. There’s a person there. So it’s easy to criticize. But they’re really criticizing science, because I represent science. That’s dangerous. To me, that’s more dangerous than the slings and the arrows that get thrown at me. And if you damage science, you are doing something very detrimental to society, long after I leave.”
While it’s certainly true that some people who prefer Facebook anecdotes to hard data use him as a face to aim their attacks, much of the criticism lobbied against Fauci has little to do with science itself, but rather his narcissistic efforts to inject himself into the picture.
Sen. Rand Paul responded to Fauci’s remarks on Twitter, noting the “absolute hubris” on display.
“The absolute hubris of someone claiming THEY represent science. It’s astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity,” he said.