The White House has drawn up a list of mistakes by Dr Anthony Fauci, the US’ top infectious disease expert, in an apparent bid to undermine him as he continues to deliver blunt assessments of the US’ failings in response to the coronavirus.
An unnamed White House official told CNN Sunday that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.”
The official went on to provide a bullet-pointed list of alleged errors by Fauci, including comments from earlier in the year in which he seemed to downplay the likely impact of the virus, and comments in March in which he questioned the efficacy of wearing masks.
In line with other public health officials Fauci was initially hesitant to recommend using masks, but as new data has emerged on their efficacy has revised his earlier position and now advocates using them.
“Dr. Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public but he has been wrong about everything I have ever interacted with him on,” Peter Navarro, a trade adviser to Trump, told the Washington Post in a statement.
Once a mainstay at the White House’s coronavirus task force briefings, Fauci became one of the US’ most trusted public officials because of his clear and honest assessments of the dangers faced by America from the coronavirus, and the measures needed to suppress it.
But in recent weeks a widening rift has opened between Fauci and President Donald Trump. The expert has warned that the US’ battle to contain the virus is far from over as infection rates continue to climb, while the president has attempted to portray the US’ response as a success.
“As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say we’re doing great. I mean, we’re just not, Fauci told podcast Five Thirty Eight last Thursday.
In an apparent attempt to muzzle Fauci, the White House has banned him from speaking to major news TV platforms in the US, according to reports. But the expert has continued to deliver his blunt criticism of the US response in interviews with podcasts and foreign media outlets.
“I have a reputation, as you probably have figured out, of speaking the truth at all times and not sugar-coating things,” Fauci told the Financial Times last week. “And that may be one of the reasons why I haven’t been on television very much lately.”
The list drawn up by the White House echoes criticism of Fauci that Trump made in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity last week, where he remarked “Dr Fauci is a nice man but he’s made a lot of mistakes.”