Fauci documentary on PBS covers a career of crises
There's a moment in the new PBS documentary about Dr. Anthony Fauci when a protestor holds up a handmade sign reading, “Dr. Fauci, You Are Killing Us."
It says something about Fauci that it's not initially 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 told The Associated Press. 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.
“The story illuminates — and he'd
be the first to say it — some very dark stuff about this country and how a person who has devoted his life to helping individuals got so twisted in this current climate,” said Mannucci.