Albany Times Union

PBS documentar­y spotlights Fauci


There’s a moment in the new PBS documentar­y about Dr. Anthony Fauci when a protester holds up a handmade sign reading, “Dr. Fauci, You Are Killing Us.”

It says something about Fauci that it’s not clear when that sign was waved in anger — in the 1980s as AIDS made its deadly rise or in the 2020s with COVID -19 vaccine opponents.

“American Masters: Dr. Tony Fauci,” offers a portrait of an unlikely lightning rod: A government infectious disease scientist who advised seven presidents. Fauci hopes it can inspire more public servants like him.

“I just felt that there needed to be a story of people understand­ing what public health officials go through, but also I hope as a source of inspiratio­n for young people who are either in science or interested in going into science,” he said.

The documentar­y airs Tuesday and later streams.

Fauci allowed a film crew to follow him for 23 months starting in January 2021. The documentar­y covers his career and its crises, especially the way COVID -19 was handled by the Trump administra­tion.

“When you talk about all of the different things coming together for a disaster, that’s what happened: A divided country, a president who amplified the division and then a public health crisis — you couldn’t ask for a worse combinatio­n of things,” he said.

Director Mark Mannucci offers an intimate look at his subject, with images of Fauci running from meeting to meeting and wolfing down Wheat Thins between Zooms. His wife attests to the stress by pointing out their security detail due to threats.

Michael Kantor, executive producer for the American Masters series, says Fauci is a figure who has been central to American life for decades and deserves an examinatio­n, even if some virulently oppose him.

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