Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, several outlets got their hands on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails from the beginning days and weeks of the pandemic. The mainstream media acted like a public relations officer for the bureaucrat.
A collection of news outlets published a digital stack of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails from during the first days and weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, providing a glimpse into the tensions between international colleagues, public relations, and public health.
- Fauci took time to respond to random strangers with medical questions and was characterized by outlets as generous, magnanimous, yet “exhausted.”
- The Hill gushed over Fauci’s responses in an interview with The Washington Post, detailing his sentiments to “get through this together” with the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The emails also revealed the fascination Fauci found in his “cult following”, saying “Our society is totally nuts.”
- One of the few critical or skeptical pieces in unbiased media comes from the local Fox affiliate in Wilmington, North Carolina which reported on MSNBC’s failure to practice even a modicum of journalistic integrity, lobbing softballs to Fauci during a trite interview with the network’s Nicolle Wallace.
- Buzzfeed, one of the handful of outlets organizing the FOIA request, spent much of their reporting praising Fauci for his courteousness and tone on his correspondence before burying truly important revelations including one in which Fauci told a former cabinet secretary masks are not necessary for uninfected people.
- CNN did the exact same thing, highlighting Fauci’s responses to colleagues, other government officials, and members of the public. Unlike, Buzzfeed, CNN omitted any and all emails that paint Fauci as anything less than a champion of science and well-mannered communication.
- The Washington Post’s key “takeaways” also laud Fauci’s ferocity in defending his statements and denials that he was ever “muzzled” by the Trump administration.
- The New York Post and Fox News highlighted criticism from GOP elected officials including Sen. Rand Paul, who has been publicly critical of Fauci for months, who are all calling for Dr. Fauci to be fired based on information gleaned from the released emails over the origin of the coronavirus and his inconsistent statements on the efficacy of masks.
- The Daily Caller highlighted an email that unbiased and liberal media has completely ignored: Fauci was warned in January 2020 that the coronavirus that caused the pandemic “potentially” could have been engineered. Daily Caller also notes that the infectious disease expert who emailed the warning “radically changed his position” mere days later.
- The Washington Examiner and RedState excoriated MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace for a shoddy, unprofessional, unbecoming, and embarrassing interview with Fauci regarding his emails, in which she said (I’m not kidding, she actually said this) “The true mark of someone is if they look good even when their personal emails come out, so you pass the test very few of us would pass.”
No one would relish their emails becoming public information. It is apparent Fauci did a reasonable job in maintaining appropriate correspondence with those he needed to, pushed back on criticism, but also had blind spots that a sudden spotlight and public attention will naturally create.
Most infuriating is the amount of uncritical reporting that lacks any meaningful skepticism or acknowledgement of the duty to ask difficult questions. Emails showing early concern about a lab-leaked, possibly man-made virus and these concerns were swept under a rug by Fauci, the scientific community, and the media, all in service of damaging President Trump politically.
Fauci is human, with political and philosophical biases. He, like all people, should be shown at least some grace. But he is also a public official who should be asked the hard questions. It is clear he allowed politics and public opinion to shape his statements (even if it wasn’t directly caused or came from the Trump White House). It is also clear how far the status of journalism has fallen when Buzzfeed is the only outlet outside of conservative media to find any critical reporting on this topic.
© Dallas Gerber, 2021