Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the White House’s most prominent health responders to COVID-19 and a target in President Donald Trump’s attempts to downplay the pandemic, said on Thursday that he and his family have been receiving threats.
“I’ve seen a side of society that I guess is understandable, but it’s a little bit disturbing,” Fauci said in a podcast interview with CNN commentator David Axelrod.
The doctor recalled how he had received hate mail decades ago for leading efforts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to find treatment for HIV/AIDs.
“It’s really a magnitude different now, because the amount of anger,” he told Axelrod. “As much as people inappropriately, I think, make me somewhat of a hero–which, I’m not a hero, I’m just doing my job–there are people who get really angry at thinking I’m interfering with their life because I’m pushing a public health agenda.”
The backlash goes beyond just hate mail, Fauci said. It’s also led to “actual serious threats against him and his family.
“Serious threats against me, against my family, my daughters, my wife,” the doctor said. “I mean, really? Is this the United States of America?”
Fauci asserted that the attacks reflect “the divisiveness of our society at a political level.”
“This is a public health issue, the fundamental principles of public health, and I don’t see how people can have animosity to that,” he said.
The doctor revealed that he and his family have been assigned security detail in response to the threats.
In recent days, Trump and his administration have worked to undermine Fauci’s credibility as the doctor’s sobering analysis COVID-19 clash with Trump’s politically motivated efforts to put a falsely positive spin on the outbreak ahead of the November elections. Trump’s allies in right-wing media circles have also been attacking Fauci.