We've reached the point in the pandemic where the White House is putting out oppo research on its own public health officials. Because if Dr. Anthony Fauci is going to hurt Trump's re-election chances by telling Americans the truth about COVID, then he should probably expect to find a knife in his back, right?

Well, not in a functional democracy. But in Trump's America, letting people die so Dear Leader can pretend all is well is just par for the course.

It started Saturday when Trump's henchmen passed a memo to the Washington Post saying that "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things" and listing statements he made early this year that were overtaken by facts on the ground. With Fauci's approval ratings on handling the pandemic running 40 points ahead of Trump's, the president knows firing him would be politically deadly. So the White House and Fox News are waging a systematic campaign to soften their own public health guy up by destroying his credibility.


Only the Post wouldn't play ball, publishing a balanced piece that painted Fauci as a tormented public servant, desperately trying to protect Americans from an administration willing to jettison science and send kids back to school to help the president's electoral prospects.

"You could just feel from Tony . . . how unsettled it made him," AIDS activist David Barr, a longtime friend of Fauci's, told the Post, adding later, "What he cares most about is not his influence, but what's happening — that things are going so badly and it's going to cause so much disease and death."

How is the White House supposed to spin that as a reason to fire the guy? UNHELPFUL!

So then those honorable public servants — hey, you pay their salaries! — decided to put their hit memo on blast. If they couldn't get the Post to do their dirty work on the DL, they'd go for quantity instead of quality. But even the New York Times's Maggie Haberman wasn't willing to swallow their spin, pointing out that the White House had selectively quoted Fauci to make it seem as if he'd pooh-poohed the possibility that coronavirus posed a real danger to Americans.

For example, White House officials pointed to a statement by Dr. Fauci in a Feb. 29 interview that "at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you're doing on a day-by-day basis." But they omitted a warning he delivered right after.

"Right now the risk is still low, but this could change," he said in the interview, conducted by NBC News. "When you start to see community spread, this could change and force you to become much more attentive to doing things that would protect you from spread."

In the same interview, Dr. Fauci also warned that the coronavirus could become "a major outbreak."

Is that the thanks these Trumpers get for leaking to Habes all day and night? The ingratitude!

Last week Dr. Fauci went on the FiveThirtyEight podcast and admitted that 135,000 dead Americans and tens of thousands of positive tests every day are not, in fact, indicative of a wonderful pandemic response by the Trump administration.

"As a country, when you compare us to other countries, I don't think you can say we're doing great. I mean, we're just not," he said.

The doctor has been similarly tepid on Trump's plan to throw open the schoolhouse doors and send kids back to class next month. So if the White House can't get the media to smear him, they'll have to make do with muzzling Fauci. The Post reports that after he appeared on a Facebook live event with Democratic Senator Doug Jones on Tuesday warning Americans against "false complacency," the White House revoked its permission for him to appear on PBS, CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and NBC's "Meet the Press" yesterday. Instead they sent Admiral Brett Giroir, an undersecretary at HHS, in his place.

When asked if Fauci's recommendation that parts of the country will have to be shut down again in response to localized coronavirus spikes, Giroir responded, "I respect Dr. Fauci a lot, but Dr. Fauci is not 100 percent right, and he also doesn't necessarily — and he admits that — have the whole national interest in mind. He looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view."

Presumably he meant that Dr. Fauci was doing his damn job and making public health recommendations, not economic ones. Although perhaps he was referring to the good doctor's failure to consider Trump's electoral prospects. We should probably ask Chuck Woolery about this one.

EVERYONE IS LYING!

[WaPo / NYT]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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