National Geographic Documentary Films released a trailer for its upcoming documentary of Dr. Anthony Fauci. The longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIH) is getting the full star treatment in a feature documentary. Fauci gives the film’s directors exclusive access to his career and life as a public servant.
This news isn’t really a surprise, is it? Fauci has received glowing puff pieces for months from an adoring press. Hollywood celebs sing his praises. Remember the InStyle magazine’s article on the doctor, which includes a photo of him sitting beside a swimming pool, his look completed with sunglasses? That is about as cool as the 80-year-old scientist gets. The Mayor of D.C. named his 80th birthday as Dr. Anthony S. Fauci Day. To the rest of us, that day is called Christmas Eve. In December he appeared with Sesame Street characters to reassure children that Santa would be coming to their houses, coronavirus pandemic or not. Fauci straddles the fence between kindly grandpa and top government science geek at the NIH.
Before the coronavirus pandemic struck, no one knew who Dr. Fauci is or what he does. He’s been on the government payroll for fifty years and is the highest-paid federal employee. His salary is higher than that of the president. In 2019, he made $417,608. Since the pandemic, everyone knows of Fauci. Like other people in the news, he has received threats that require him to employ security now for himself and his family.
Then COVID-19 hit. Fauci became a vital source of information during the pandemic, with his “just the facts” style acting as a necessary counter to President Trump’s blind insistence that ‘one day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” Fauci found himself on coffee mugs and t-shirts, as well as spoofed on “SNL.” He was a hero for those who supported applying a science-based approach to dealing with a worsening public health crisis, but not everyone was a fan. Fauci has also had contend with death threats and the ire of some far-right talking heads.
Now, Fauci will be the subject of a new feature length documentary, “Fauci,” from Emmy winners John Hoffman (“Sleepless in America”) and Janet Tobias (“Unseen Enemy”). Academy Award winner Dan Cogan (“Icarus”) and two-time Academy Award nominee Liz Garbus (“What Happened, Miss Simone?”) will produced the film, which National Geographic Documentary Films will release.
The filmmakers are promising to “deliver a rare glimpse into the long-standing professional career and personal life of this ultimate public servant and American hero, who after a lifetime of public service faced his biggest test: a pandemic whose ferocity is unmatched in modern history.”
The documentary isn’t just about his work during the coronavirus pandemic. It goes back to his work during the AIDS pandemic and the days of the Ebola pandemic, too. He has served seven presidential administrations, spanning a lifetime career. Fauci is featured in the film, as well as his family, friends, and colleagues. Everyone from George W. Bush to a host of liberal public figures is included. You didn’t think National Geographic would focus much on conservatives, did you? Every write-up about this documentary includes some snark about ‘far-right’ and ‘right-wing’ opposition to Fauci.
The movie won’t just deal with Fauci’s work on COVID. It will also take viewers through his previous efforts to combat everything from AIDS to Ebola as a public official in seven administrations. To that end, the film will also include interviews with friends and colleagues, including George W. Bush, Bill Gates, Bono, former HHS secretary Sylvia Burwell, former national security advisor Susan Rice, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden, and various AIDS activists and organizers. Fauci’s family and friends will also be interviewed.
“There is only one Dr. Fauci, and it is an incredible privilege to bring his inspiring, lifelong quest to cure disease and prevent outbreaks, to viewers around the world,” said Hoffman and Tobias in a statement. “This film will be an unprecedented, intimate portrait of our nation’s greatest public servant, whose relentless pursuit of truth and devotion to science has never been more important.”
Fauci has had a long, noteworthy career. However, to promote him to sainthood now is a bit much, if you ask me. He is known for his work on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, as is Dr. Birx, but there is still no vaccine for that disease. There is also no licensed vaccines to prevent Ebola to date. NIAID has supported the development of some vaccine candidates and approved them being administered to people at risk in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These potential vaccines have received clinical trials in West Africa. No licensed vaccine, though.
The experts, led by Fauci, have been wrong on numerous occasions during the coronavirus pandemic. There is plenty of blame to go around with the federal agencies in the mix, starting with the CDC and continuing to the NIH and landing at the White House. It’s a 100-year plague. Fauci wasn’t any better prepared to deal with it. He has misinformed the public on purchasing and wearing face masks, for instance, and even lied about the percentage of the general public that must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. He still vacillates on schools re-opening and businesses re-opening, too. Maybe we shouldn’t elevate scientists to superstar status until a little time has passed and their careers can be measured accordingly. Aren’t the teams of scientists who actually developed the coronavirus vaccines worthy of personal recognition? I’ll be curious to see if Operation Warp Speed is acknowledged for its success.
Here is the 45-second trailer from National Geographic: