Reporter Salutes Fauci After Doc's Gloomy Prediction About Future of America


ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl was seen saluting Dr. Anthony Fauci as the 79-year-old head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases exited the room at the end of Monday’s coronavirus media briefing.

Karl, the network’s White House correspondent, received a finger-gun response from Fauci.

The salute and response, oddly enough, came after a coronavirus briefing in which Fauci — in response to a question by Karl — said that life in America might not get back to normal after the COVID-19 crisis.

The exchange was caught on camera and posted to Twitter by Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News:

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During the media briefing, Karl had asked Fauci about returning to normalcy before a vaccine was developed and deployed.

“About getting back to normal, you said you wanted to get back to normal as soon as possible,” Karl said. “Will we truly get back to normal in this country before there is an actual vaccine that’s available to everybody? How do you start lifting the restrictions safely?”

“If back to normal means acting like there was never a coronavirus problem, I don’t think that’s going to happen until we do have a situation where you can completely protect the population,” Fauci said.

“But, when we say getting back to normal, we mean something very different from what we are going through right now, because right now we are in a very intense mitigation. When we get back to normal, we will go back gradually to the point where we can function as a society.”

However, Fauci said it was entirely possible life might never get back to where it was just a few weeks ago.

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“But you’re absolutely right, if you want to get to pre-coronavirus, you know, that might not ever happen, in the sense of the fact that the threat is there,” he said.

“But, I believe with the therapies that will be coming online, and ith the fact that I feel confident that over a period of time we will get a good vaccine, that we will never have to get back to where we are right back now. So, if that means getting back to normal, then we will get back to normal.”

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Later on in the briefing, after a question about an internal report from a Health and Human Services official which claimed hospitals were short of coronavirus tests and results were being delayed, President Donald Trump engaged in a back-and-forth with Karl over the fact that Karl didn’t originally disclose the official had served during the Obama administration.

“You didn’t tell me that, Jon. …  You mean the Obama administration,” Trump said. “Thank you for telling me that. See, there’s a typical fake news deal.”

“You asked me when she was appointed. I told you when she was appointed,” Karl responded.

“You’re a third-rate reporter, and what you just said is a disgrace. OK?” Trump said. “You asked me, you said, sir, just got appointed. Take a look at what you said. Now I said, when did they — when did this person — how long in government? Well, it was appointed in the Obama administration. Thank you very much, Jon. Thank you very much. You will never make it.”

Well, to be fair, Karl has already made it and isn’t the most insufferable member of the White House media pool. He also said he didn’t “want to engage in this personal back-and-forth” with Trump and that reporters shouldn’t look too harsh “or like we’re a political party or like a resistance.”

“One of the fakest things in the world is Donald Trump’s attack on fake news,” Karl told The Hill this week. “Donald Trump actually does a lot to court reporters. … [Trump] is certainly a consumer of news beyond any president that I’ve ever witnessed. He uses his DVR to watch all of the networks, to watch the cable networks, even those he professes to hate and to not watch.”

“And then he turns around and he makes really ugly, sometimes personal attacks on reporters or on news organizations,” Karl said. “But it’s part of the show for him. He’s a big [World Wrestling Federation] guy and he knows that any performance requires a good villain. And in ‘The Trump Show,’ the villain is the media.”

Still, some users on Twitter, like former Breitbart editor Raheem Kassam, seemed to find a bit of a connection between Karl’s recent travails, his salute and the response he got from Fauci:

Now, crawling inside the heads of these two men is thoroughly impossible for the best of us.

Is there a backstory here? It doesn’t particularly look great after one of the more dour messages from an already dour series of coronavirus media briefings to see a salute/finger-gun back-and-forth. Beats shaking hands, but one might note that given the tenor of the briefing, it still seemed a bit off.

The one issue that people are going to seize upon is the fact that Fauci’s view on the virus’ progression has seemed gloomy even by the admittedly inky blackness of the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s one thing to say that life is going to be different for quite some time. It’s quite another to say that life will literally never go back to normal as we knew it.

To say that and then engage in a playful exchange with a reporter is perhaps not the most professional thing in the world to do. Fauci has otherwise shone as one of the few people in this crisis who is trusted by people on both sides of the aisle, but he does tend to spin things in dire terms and the media tends to latch onto this gloom like a remora to a shark.

As for Karl, it probably doesn’t help matters that he can occasionally have a fractious relationship with the president.

Given the nature of what happened Monday, this looked a bit like insider baseball — which is the last thing we need right now.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture