I wrote about his “I represent science” defense at length a few days ago but Kat Rosenfield cut to the heart of it in a new piece at Unherd. “[His] comments reveal a monumental hubris no matter how you slice it, a conviction that no criticism — whether it’s of him or his ideas — could ever be valid,” she said. “If he’s not accusing his detractors of heresy for questioning capital-S Science, he’s still accusing them of anti-science bigotry and bad faith — and excusing himself from ever considering the possibility that at least a few of them might have a point.”
If Fauci were offered a do-over on his messaging during the pandemic, what changes would he make? You get the sense that if you asked him that, he’d respond with a puzzled look.
Glad to see that his boycott of Fox networks is over, though. Watch, then read on.
Neil asks Dr. Anthony Fauci what he meant by "I represent science." pic.twitter.com/bwDzpkEOwP
— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) December 3, 2021
It’s not true that Fauci has been scrupulously “science-based.” In fact, the most famous lie he told after COVID arrived famously wasn’t science-based. That was when he downplayed the utility of masks in the first weeks of the pandemic in order to discourage the public from hoarding them at a moment when health-care professionals needed them more. Experts have filtered their “science-based” conclusions through the sieve of group psychology time after time since March 2020, trying to influence people’s behavior instead of simply stating what the data says. In some cases, like last year’s BLM protests, they threw science out the window entirely and condoned mass gatherings based on the half-assed “scientific” theory that racism is a more urgent health problem than COVID.
They had no right to play mind games with the public. They’re experts in epidemiology and virology, after all, not advertising. And once we were aware that they were doing it, we were destined to wonder whenever Fauci or some other expert issued a “scientific” conclusion whether that conclusion had also been slyly manipulated to induce a particular public behavior. That’s not an environment in which trust will flourish.
Which is not to say that he’s entirely wrong about some of his critics. Some really do seem chiefly interested in undermining good scientific practice:
In which @RepBrianMast (an Afghanistan veteran who was required to receive numerous vaccines to serve in the Army) says it's "crap" that public schools can require children to be vaccinated against diseases like polio as a condition of attendance. pic.twitter.com/9eN91XK7xd
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) December 1, 2021
Some even want to incentivize poor scientific practice with cash benefits.
Is Fauci right, by the way, when he says in the clip that masks work? This story from Missouri caught my eye. I’m skeptical that mask mandates matter at all in controlling the spread of COVID but that state conducted a study that found that they did. And, for some reason, they didn’t release the results:
The study compared infection and death rates in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City and Jackson County with the rest of the state. New state health Director Donald Kauerauf wrote in an email that the study’s findings showed the effectiveness of mask mandates and forwarded it to [Gov. Mike] Parson’s office…
The comparison showed infection rates in “masked” jurisdictions were higher than the rest of the state in the six weeks prior to the emergence of the delta variant. Case rates then fell below other regions as the surge gathered force in late May and have remained lower since that time.
The statewide data shows that, from the end of April to the end of October, jurisdictions with mask mandates experienced an average of 15.8 cases per day for every 100,000 residents compared to 21.7 cases per day for every 100,000 residents in unmasked communities.
Suppressing a study that contradicted the state government’s politicized view of mask mandates does seem anti-science, come to think of it.
Back to Fauci. Cavuto also pressed him today about why Biden is so hot to block travel from southern Africa to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant while remaining welcoming to migrants at the border, many of whom are infected with COVID. Fauci mumbled something about how it’s a hard issue and then turned fatalistic, musing that Omicron will get in and spread no matter what we do:
Dr. Anthony Fauci discusses the omicron variant. pic.twitter.com/jG1kIhS9a5
— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) December 3, 2021
If he’s so fatalistic, why did he condone the travel ban on Africa in the first place? Either we’re trying to keep the variant out, which means turning migrants away too, or we aren’t. Is it “anti-science” for me to reflect that his position is logically incoherent?
I’ll leave you with this clip last night from MSNBC, in which he was given the chance to respond to Lara Logan comparing him to Josef Mengele. I’d hazard to say that there’s more going on in an analogy like that for Fauci’s critics than just “science-based” criticism. Exit question: Was Fox the only right-wing media outlet that he’s been boycotting? Hmmmmmmmm.
Fauci on Lara Logan's "absolutely preposterous and disgusting comparison" of him to Nazi doctor:
"What I find striking is how she gets no discipline whatsoever from the Fox network. How they can let her say that with no comment and no disciplinary action. I’m astounded by that." pic.twitter.com/lsmaHmNjUu
— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) December 3, 2021