The White House publicly took aim at one of its own leading health experts on the COVID-19 task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, by sending a list of talking points to news outlets on Sunday that disparaged the doctor over past comments he’d made about the virus that later turned out to be incorrect.
In the statement, which was first reported by the Washington Post, then NBC News and CNN, an unnamed White House aide said that “several” White House officials are “concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.”
The aide seemingly refused to be identified.
The White House’s salvo reportedly includes a compilation of Fauci’s COVID-19 predictions and health recommendations in the early stages of the pandemic, before the novel coronavirus had yet to be fully understood by health professionals.
NBC News, and CNN described the statement as resembling a series of talking points against a political enemy.
One of the White House’s examples reportedly included Fauci’s assertion in January that COVID-19 was “not a major threat” and him saying in late February that there was “no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) defended Fauci on Monday in response to the reports, saying the organization was “extremely concerned and alarmed” by the White House using Fauci’s early remarks about the virus to undermine his credibility.
“Science is, and must be, a dynamic and evolving process,” AAMC said in a statement. “Taking quotes from Dr. Fauci out of context to discredit his scientific knowledge and judgment will do tremendous harm to our nation’s efforts to get the virus under control, restore our economy, and return us to a more normal way of life.”
The White House’s effort to discredit Fauci comes as the doctor’s stark warnings about COVID-19 continue to undermine President Donald Trump’s blatantly political attempts to downplay the severity of the outbreak ahead of the November elections.
As Trump repeatedly peddles the false claim that the virus is “going away,” Fauci warns that though the COVID-19 death rate (not the number of cases) is declining, “it’s a false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death.”
“There’s so many other things that are very dangerous and bad about this virus, don’t get yourself into false complacency,” he said last Tuesday.
Several days later, Trump tried to cast doubt on Fauci’s grim analysis by telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that the doctor is “a nice man” but “he’s made a lot of mistakes.”