Ever since Anthony Fauci emerged as one of the most credible and confidence-building messengers of the coronavirus crisis, speculation on his relationship with Donald Trump has percolated in the media. Lately, as Trump has begun to talk about prioritizing the economy, speculation has turned to outright provocation, and Fauci has grown tired of it. In an interview with WMAL this morning, the head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases told the media to stop trying to force a split at a time when we need unity more than ever:
Dr. Anthony Fauci slammed the media for spinning a narrative that he was butting heads with President Trump over the country’s coronavirus response, calling it “really unfortunate” and “not helpful” that there are stories “pitting” him against the president.
“I would wish that that would stop, because we have a much bigger problem here than trying to point out differences,” Fauci told WMAL’s Mornings on the Mall on Tuesday. “Really, fundamentally at the core, when you look at things, there are not differences.”
Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases and member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, also praised Trump for his incorporation of advice from the task force into crafting the administration’s response.
Here’s the moment when Fauci’s frustration comes through, courtesy of our friend Reagan Battalion on Twitter:
He’s had enough!
Dr: Fauci to the media:
I wish you would stop trying to create a rift between me and @realDonaldTrump, there is none, you are not helping us, I wish you would stop! https://t.co/3KvNlJRJgF pic.twitter.com/smSjQV9y54
— Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) March 24, 2020
FAUCI: That is really unfortunate. I would wish that that would stop, because we have a much bigger problem here than trying to point out differences. There really fundamentally at the core, when you look at things, there are not differences. The president has listened to what I have said and what the other people on the task force have said. When I’ve made recommendations he’s taken them. He’s never countered or overridden me. The idea of just pitting one against the other is just not helpful. I wish that would stop, and we’d look ahead at the challenge we have to pull together, to get over this thing.
One has to wonder how long this will pertain if Trump insists on ending the Great Hunkering Down period in favor of an earlier economic rebound. At the moment, though, neither man has given any indication of friction, instead praising each other when asked directly about it. Trump offered no sense of frustration with Fauci at today’s Fox News town hall, even while pushing for an Easter economic resurrection:
Trump tells FoxNews his relationship with Fauci is good amid reports that it's strained. "Tony's extraordinary," Trump says. Sometimes experts miss meetings/briefings because "you know, they have other things to do."
— Olivier Knox (@OKnox) March 24, 2020
Trump is asked about Fauci not being at Monday's briefing and this town hall.
He says their relationship is strong.
"I think it's been very good. You would have heard about it if it wasn't."
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) March 24, 2020
Trump even appeared to poke fun at the speculation by retweeting a popular Fauci meme, one which captured the reaction to something Trump said at a recent press briefing:
Most if not all of the supposed split between Fauci and Trump has come from anonymous sourcing and speculative analysis by journalists. A good example is this segment from today’s Morning Joe on MSNBC, which doesn’t even have the anonymous sourcing as a basis for their conclusions. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but it just means that speculation is all it really is. And Dr. Fauci would really like to see this kind of thing stop, before it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that will serve no one’s interests … except the media’s.