Hugh Hewitt grills Fauci: Don't you think you're doing more harm than good at this point?

Others have made the point that Fauci is more of a liability than an asset at this stage of the pandemic in trying to bring right-wing holdouts along on vaccination.

But I don’t think I’d ever seen an interviewer confront Fauci himself about it, as Hugh Hewitt does in the clip below.

For 10 full minutes.

I’m not exaggerating. Take the time to watch if you can spare it. If you can’t, skip ahead to 14:43 of the clip, when Fauci begins to scoff openly at the suggestion. Or read the transcript at Hewitt’s website for a taste. He came with receipts:

HH: Now Dr., your specialty is medicine and public health. Mine is Constitutional law. I’ve taught it and practiced it for 25 years. And what they are doing is going outside of their lane when they inject the equity discussion into a scientific discussion. That leads me to my next question. This is difficult for me, but I want to run down for your benefit. The controversies since the virus started include the botched testing at the beginning, no research on masks for children in primary care, the J & J pause, the controversy over the use or non-use of Ivermectin, and there was no study yet completed. Dr. Collins told me it’s not done, yet. The no discussion of natural immunity which exists and ought to be out there, the discussion of herd immunity which has switched back and forth, the mask discussion at the begging, don’t wear masks, the noble lie and then wear masks, now equity issues in the FDA panel’s scientific discussion. I’ve lost confidence in the CDC and the FDA. And I actually believe a lot of Americans, a significant part of America, now have lost confidence in you, Dr. Fauci. Is there a point where you will say I do more harm than good because people don’t listen to me anymore and step aside?

Fauci responded to that with what he usually says about how he changed when the data changed, but Hewitt doesn’t let him go. You’ll see what I mean.

The truth about Fauci quitting now is that it wouldn’t change anything. The well is poisoned. Hewitt complains to him at one point that some conservatives are simply changing the channel when they see him come on and might not do that if presented with a fresher face, but I’m skeptical. Masks, lockdowns, and to some extent vaccination have become culture-war litmus tests. Swapping in Tom Frieden for Fauci on CNN might lead to fewer changings of the channel but I can’t imagine it leading to appreciably more people masking up or getting vaxxed. It’s not a matter of persuasion at this stage since most of the persuadables have already taken the plunge, leaving only the diehard refuseniks. The remaining holdouts will do it only if they’re coerced.

Which Fauci or Hewitt might have acknowledged here. With the announcement of Biden’s federal employer vaccine mandate a few weeks ago and more companies beginning to squeeze workers on getting their shots, we’ve arrived at the coercion stage of vaccination. One which Fauci supports, by the way. Put him on TV or don’t: Whether the needle moves on immunity from this point on depends on businesses twisting arms, not bureaucrats explaining the science of vaccination for the 8,000th time. So far, so good:

United Airlines is touting the success of its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, saying that more than 99% of its U.S.-based employees have met the company’s requirement to get vaccinated, or have applied for a religious or medical exemption…

United announced August 6 that the Chicago-based airline was requiring all 67,000 of its U.S.-based employees to be vaccinated. At the time, the airline said about 90% of pilots and 80% of flight attendants had already been vaccinated.

Seven weeks later, United says about 2,000 workers, less than 3% of the U.S.-based workforce, have applied for a religious or medical accommodation. Those workers had faced being put on an unpaid leave of absence Oct. 2, but the airline has pushed back that date while a federal lawsuit challenging that policy works its way through the courts.

Fewer than 600 employees haven’t had their shots or sought an exemption. They’re headed for unemployment. Jim Geraghty wondered this morning if it’s really necessary for a business to fire the remaining unvaccinated once it’s reached upwards of 100 percent compliance. I take his point, but how do you gain compliance in the first place if workers have reason to believe that a business will simply drop its mandate once it gets close to its target? That would create a collective action problem in which most of the unvaccinated would continue to hold out in the mistaken belief that their comrades will get vaccinated instead. The only way to get employees to take a mandate seriously is to prove that there are consequences for ignoring it.

One other thing Fauci might have mentioned here when Hewitt says he’s no longer persuading anyone to get vaccinated is that Big Tech is scrambling to make it harder for anti-vaxxers to persuade people to the contrary. YouTube announced today that it will deplatform prominent anti-vax accounts and ban misinformation about commonly used vaccines (not just COVID vaccines). Fauci doesn’t have to be as convincing if anti-vax propaganda is harder to access, I suppose. Although I think Hewitt would say that Fauci himself, by dint of his numerous reversals and his agency’s dubious funding of the Wuhan lab, is a form of anti-vax propaganda at this point. If you don’t trust him, why wouldn’t you bristle at his advice to get vaccinated even if there are no anti-vaxxers whispering in your ear?