Right-wing media figures are criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser on COVID-19 to the president, after he suggested earlier this week that wearing two masks, rather than one, might prove more effective in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
While interviewing Fauci on NBC News’ Today show on January 25, co-host Savannah Guthrie mentioned “double masking,” asking, “Do you believe that that’s advisable and makes a difference?” In response, Fauci suggested that it is “common sense” that wearing two masks would be more effective because “it’s a physical covering” and additional layers help to block the transmission of droplets from person to person. Fauci’s remarks immediately touched off a wave of criticism from figures in right-wing media who have been skeptical — and in some cases openly hostile — toward wearing masks.
Masks remain one of the most effective tools available to limit the spread of COVID-19. But since the beginning of the pandemic, outlets like Fox News have worked to undermine public support for wearing masks.
Predictably, Fauci’s suggestion became yet another opportunity for right-wing media, including Fox, to push the type of anti-mask messaging that has potentially helped to prolong the pandemic.
Fox News and other outlets have rolled their eyes at calls for double-masking
- During an interview with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) on January 28, Fox host Sean Hannity visibly rolled his eyes in response to Fauci’s comments. Hannity claimed, “Now he said this week wear two masks. OK, now he’s on his ‘I hate Donald Trump tour’ when he should be focused on his job as the highest-paid government employee.”
- Earlier that day, former member of Congress Ron Paul appeared on The Story with Martha MacCallum to respond to Fauci’s comments. Guest anchor Trace Gallagher pointed to the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not issued a recommendation on double masking to complain about “this contradictory information we have been getting from the start.” Paul responded by arguing that Fauci is “giving out bad information, that’s not very scientific to talk like that,” and concluded the interview by falsely claiming “masks have not prevented any significant disease.”
- The night before, Fox host Tucker Carlson mocked Fauci’s suggestion, sarcastically arguing, “Wouldn’t it just be safer at this point for people just to stop breathing entirely? You wouldn’t get COVID. You get the impression that’s kind of where Tony Fauci may be a few months from now.” Carlson then pointed to comments Fauci made at the beginning of the pandemic in which he suggested that masks were not necessary for the general public and called Fauci a “malignant buffoon.”
- On Newsmax, host Grant Stinchfield dismissed Fauci’s comments and mocked another network for demonstrating how to wear two masks: “So now he wants to wear two masks. That’s right, two masks. And the mainstream media of course is eating all of this up.”
- Fauci himself appeared on America Reports on January 27, and anchor Sandra Smith commented, “It seems like the goal posts are moving. … We all wear our masks and we hope that most people are wearing their masks. But now we are hearing we should wear two.” She then asked Fauci, “Where do you stand on that? If I go to the grocery store do I wear two, do I wear three, is it safer to wear eight? Where does it stop?” In response, Fauci clarified that the “discussion is changing, not the goal posts,” and noted that his primary focus is on ensuring everyone wears at least one mask.
- Texas-based radio host Michael Berry argued, “So one mask is a bad idea. Now it’s a great idea. Now it’s two masks, because one isn’t enough.” Berry continued, “Maybe if we put enough masks, we won’t be able to breathe at all and we’ll die and then they won’t have to worry about us storming the Capitol.”
- Writing in The Washington Times on January 26, Fox contributor Tammy Bruce criticized Fauci’s suggestion and argued, “But is more actually better? If we take this to the ultimate end they might as well put us in space suits. Or maybe the burka, but then asking men to wear that perhaps would be a bridge too far.”