Dr. Anthony Fauci, a man who is no stranger to blistering criticism, had his ego stroked Wednesday by MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle when the pair discussed the news that a focus group deemed him political and thus untrustworthy over the weekend.
According to a focus group gathered this past weekend on Zoom by pollster Frank Luntz, Fauci’s name is synonymous with toxic politics for a great many people who are hesitant to get the coronavirus vaccine. A group of 17 reported “vaccine-hesitant Trump voters” and its conclusions that Fauci is a political figure, rather than a non-partisan public health expert, were covered by The Washington Post.
“One figure was roundly panned at the focus group: Anthony S. Fauci … Every participant said they preferred hearing from politicians over the medical expert, who has been pilloried by conservative media for months over his coronavirus warnings,” The Post reported.
In the opening line of the article about Fauci, vaccine holdouts, and pandemic politics, The Post concluded proponents for vaccines need new messaging and a new messenger.
“Stop talking about the possibility of coronavirus booster shots. Don’t bully people who are vaccine holdouts. And if you’re trying to win over skeptics, show us anyone besides Dr. Fauci,” the outlet reported as the findings of the focus group.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and a former reported pen pal to Hillary Clinton was asked about the focus group by Ruhle on Wednesday.
Fauci was of course in friendly territory, and MSNBC’s Ruhle made no attempt to hide that fact.
The anchor portrayed Fauci, the chief medical adviser to hyper-partisan President Joe Biden, as an unfortunate victim who unfairly drew suspicion from an unhinged focus group. She set him up as a sort of majestic figure who is incapable of being partisan — or wrong — when she asked him about his critics.
WATCH: Dr. Anthony Fauci talks about being politicized during the pandemic and declines to comment on Facebook’s decision to uphold former President Trump’s suspension from the platform.
— Stephanie Ruhle Reports (@RuhleOnMSNBC) May 5, 2021
“How does that make you feel?” Ruhle asked Fauci about the focus group’s conclusion. She then crowned him a hero.
“You have dedicated your whole professional life to working on infectious diseases, to working with the federal government for over 40 years, devoting yourself to science and protecting the American people. When you hear that quote, how do you feel?”
Fauci, who has spent the last year smiling for the cameras while simultaneously moving the goalposts for Americans severely affected by the pandemic, insisted he is “non-political.” He in fact attacked GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio — two men who have publicly challenged his purported epidemiological wizardry — for “politicizing” him.
“It is what it is,” said Fauci, who in the 1980s was labeled “murderer” by gay groups and proponents for clear messaging on the AIDS virus.
It’s worth noting Fauci was decades ago ripped to shreds by high-profile LGBT movement figures, including Larry Kramer, who in an open letter published in The San Francisco Examiner in 1988 to mark 10 years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic accused the doctor of having blood on his hands in a screed that got very political.
“Anthony Fauci, you are a murderer and should not be the guest of honor at any event that reflects on the past decade of the AIDS crisis,” Kramer wrote. “You can’t hide the fact that you are nothing but a despicable Reagan-era holdover and drug company mouthpiece. With 270,000 dead from AIDS and millions more infected with HIV, you should not be honored at a dinner. You should be put before a firing squad.”
“You are a pill-pushing pimp that cooperates with drug companies in forcing dangerous concoctions down the throats of a desperate community that is brainwashed into believing that taking a pill, any pill, will help them. AIDS drugs are not sold to help people, they are sold to make a profit,” Kramer continued. “Go back to Washington you bastard.”
Kramer and Fauci would go on to become “dear friends” before the former’s death, NBC News reported, but those are some pretty strong words, especially coming from someone the doctor would later call a friend. Those words are also evidence that Fauci and politics intersected long ago.
The 2013 Oscar-winning Hollywood film “Dallas Buyers Club” offers a lot of background on what Kramer was writing about — if you’re interested in feeling the emotions that would lead a man, such as Kramer, to call Fauci a “murderer.”
The film masterfully displays the incalculable horrors the first AIDS patients navigated with regard to their own health and right to try opposition from public health agencies in a way that generally induced both recoil and sympathy from audiences.
One of the men who lived through that era concluded from the epidemic that camera-happy Fauci was a killer and a pimp for pharmaceutical companies. Whether that conclusion was fair or not is up to interpretation, but objectively speaking, Fauci’s reputation is in the dirt and has been for decades, which has never appeared to bother him much.
Why should Fauci, who is now a darling of the left, be bothered by being called “politicized” by the right when he’s been called much worse? He apparently isn’t too distraught to learn he’s not well-liked in this decade by a different segment of the population.
MSNBC, which has a mission to protect the current White House administration and the burgeoning mediocracy leading the country, ensured he received an inordinate amount of praise upon reminding him he’d been found by conservatives to be not trustworthy. Rather than to simply ask him about why he thinks people still don’t trust him — decades after the country first met him — the network flattered him.
Fauci, if we’re being fair, is absolutely a political figure and his face elicits grimaces and negative emotions about government efforts to curtail COVID infections for many people. If he were serious about helping to better the situation regarding vaccine hesitancy and overall distrust of government, he’d simply go away.
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