Following a series of statements from White House officials, including a scathing USA Today op-ed by trade adviser Peter Navarro, it is clear that Dr. Anthony Fauci has taken a lot of flak over the past few weeks.
For the infectious disease expert who has become a household name since joining the White House coronavirus task force, the recent criticism is “bizarre,” as Fox News reported.
“It hurts the president”
In a recent interview with The Atlantic, Fauci was asked specifically about Navarro’s piece accusing him of being wrong at every turn in responding to the coronavirus crisis.
“Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that,” Fauci said. “When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president.”
White House sources — including President Donald Trump — continue to distance the administration from Navarro’s comments, according to Fox News.
One official said that the piece was “definitely not approved by the White House” while another accused Navarro of “going rogue.”
As for the president, he said his trade adviser “made a statement representing himself,” adding that he “shouldn’t be doing that.”
“A bit bizarre”
Trump went on to reaffirm that he has “a very good relationship” with Fauci.
In recent days, the president has made it clear that the two have disagreed in the past, describing Fauci as “a nice man” in an interview with Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity while asserting that “he’s made a lot of mistakes.”
The White House was also accused of releasing information strategically designed to discredit the expert, but Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany asserted that there was no organized opposition campaign against him.
Calling the attacks on his reputation “a bit bizarre,” Fauci went on to say that he “can’t explain Peter Navarro,” who is “in a world by himself.”
While Fauci has taken on a heroic quality among many Americans concerned about the continued threat of the coronavirus pandemic, it is clear that he has not been correct in all of his public statements. It should be possible to acknowledge his important role in the process without pretending that he is the only expert voice that matters.