Dr. Anthony Fauci is enjoying his revived television career as the nation’s top infectious disease expert — a gig he claims was tightly controlled by the Trump administration.
On Friday, Fauci appeared on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, where 28.4 million people have tested positive and more than 414,000 have died. This week, President Joe Biden launched a national strategy guided by scientists and public health officials that includes mask mandates on federal property, expanded COVID-19 testing protocols, emergency funding and plans to reopen schools, among other goals. The first: “Restore trust with the American people” by implementing regular public briefings, events that were few and far between under former President Trump.
While Dr. Fauci was on Trump’s coronavirus task force, the two weren’t always on good terms, reportedly due to their pandemic strategies. However, since Biden appointed Fauci chief medical adviser and a member of his COVID-19 response team, the doctor has resurfaced with media appearances. One of his first s tops was Maddow’s show.
When Maddow asked whether Fauci will have increased public presence, alluding to the “muzzling” of government officials, Fauci replied, “I’m positive of it.”
“I’ve been wanting to come on your show for months and months — you’ve been asking me to come on your show for months and months — and it’s just gotten blocked,” he said, without mentioning Trump. “I mean, let’s call it what it is. It just got blocked, because they didn’t like the way you handled things and they didn’t want me on here.”
Fauci added, “I mean, it was so clear when we sent it down: ‘Why would you want to go on Rachel Maddow’s show?’ ‘Well, because I like her and she’s really good.’ ‘It doesn’t make any difference. Don’t do it.’”
However, under the new administration, he said, “I think you’re going to see a lot of transparency. You might not see everybody as often as you want, but you’re not going to see deliberate holding back of good people when he press asks for them.” He added, “We were assured that that’s the case” and referred to his previous position as a “tough situation.”
Fauci also told Maddow that under Trump, “science was distorted and/or rejected and a lot of pressure was put on individuals and organizations to do things that were not directly related to what their best opinion would be vis-à-vis the science.” The doctor said he was in a position to contradict the president and his administration “who were saying things that just were not consistent with the science.” The experience, he said, was “chilling.”
In November Maddow, a fierce critic of former President Trump, revealed in an emotional segment that Susan Mikula, her partner of 21 years, tested positive for COVID-19. “Just, whatever you’re doing, however you’ve calibrated risk in your life, don’t get this thing. Do whatever you can to keep from getting it,” she pleaded on air. Although Mikula recovered, the host recently told Stephen Colbert that the situation was “the scariest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”
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