The Week (US)
Fauci: The uproar over his emails
Right-wing attacks on Anthony Fauci “took on a whole new level of vitriol this week,” said Natasha Korecki and Sarah Owermohle in Politico.com. Long “a bogeyman for conservatives” who question his response to the pandemic, the nation’s top infectious-disease doctor came under renewed fire after the release of thousands of his emails under the Freedom of Information Act. Fauci immediately faced bombardment from the Right, with the hashtag #FauciLies trending on Twitter, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) calling for his resignation, and reports that Donald Trump planned to make him “the new Hillary Clinton.” Critics claimed that the emails prove Fauci squelched evidence that the virus leaked from a Chinese lab and lied about the efficacy of masks. That’s not what the emails actually say, but the attacks highlight the “growing intensity” of conservative hatred for “a mild-mannered” scientist who’s earned bipartisan admiration over decades of public service under six presidents.
Two exchanges have critics crowing about “smoking guns,” said Aaron Blake in The Washington Post. In February 2020, immunologist Kristian Andersen wrote to Fauci pointing to “unusual features” of the SARS-CoV-2 virus suggesting lab manipulation. Critics call this proof that Fauci willfully ignored evidence of a lab leak. But several weeks later, Andersen wrote again to say his team concluded that the virus “is not a laboratory construct.” Critics also pounced on an exchange in which Fauci dismissed the value of the general public wearing masks. But as he has explained, that was before scientists realized the virus easily spreads indoors in aerosolized droplets from asymptomatic people. Like other conservatives, I’ve found Fauci to be “slippery,” said Michael Brendan Doherty in NationalReview.com. But these emails contain no “smoking-gun evidence of wrongdoing.”
By demonizing Fauci, Trump supporters are trying to “rewrite or distort the history of the pandemic,” said Matt Viser and Yasmeen Abutaleb in The Washington Post. Their story is that it was not Trump’s downplaying of Covid as “a little flu” and his incompetent response that led to nearly 600,000 American deaths. Instead, it was a conspiracy involving China, Fauci, and the media to create and release a virus that ruined Trump’s reelection. That’s nuts, but these are the same people now insisting that the Jan. 6 insurrection was nothing more than a peaceful protest by patriots.