During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, the 36-year director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, offered some insight on what might have been if only Donald Trump hadn’t been so insistent on treating the novel coronavirus outbreak as something less than potentially deadly.
It must have been a hard interview for Dr. Fauci, who has become a familiar and comforting face to millions of Americans who await his recommendations and advice during Coronavirus Task Force briefings that sometimes seem to serve only as a platform for the president to “catapult the propaganda,” as former president George W. Bush might have said.
Fauci is often seen visibly wincing at the ridiculous things Trump says during the briefings, and his interview with Tapper gives us a glimpse as to why — he was right all along on this pandemic, and Trump ignored his warnings and recommendations.
A New York Times article exposing a series of messages that have come to be known as the “Red Dawn” emails gives a timeline as to when the threat was fully understood versus when it was acted on, and it shows Fauci counseling the president to take action to mitigate the spread of the virus all the way back in February.
The president, of course, didn’t act until March.
Tapper asked the doctor about this discrepancy and the care with which Dr. Fauci answered his question truly gives a snapshot of what it must be like to walk the tightrope of keeping Trump happy and actually delivering useful and accurate information:
You know, Jake, as I’ve said many times, we look at it from a pure health standpoint. We make a recommendation. Often the recommendation is taken. Sometimes it’s not. But it is what it is. We are where we are right now.”
That’s an awfully delicate way to say “The president should have listened to me and he didn’t.”
Fauci went on to elaborate on what was considered in the decision not to begin social distancing protocols back in February, and once again, he did it with a grace and tact I’m not sure I could muster in the service of an egomaniacal president:
Obviously you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those kinds of decisions is complicated. But you’re right, I mean, obviously, if we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then.”
So Trump was clearly more concerned with the economy than with saving lives, and Dr. Fauci just confirmed it on national television.
Watch the exchange:
DR. FAUCI on CNN: “You could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives. Obviously no one is going to deny that … But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back [in February].” pic.twitter.com/KpUDCrkS64
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 12, 2020
Featured image via screen capture
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