Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared Friday afternoon for a TV interview with Fox Business host Neil Cavuto. But even as the two worked to educate viewers about the need for COVID-19 vaccination, Cavuto conspicuously did not point out that many of the narratives they were trying to dispel had been platformed by his own network.
This interview had followed recent media coverage — whether by coincidence or not — of Fauci’s reported rejection of most appearance invitations from Fox News. That media coverage had wrongly blamed Fauci, instead of putting the responsibility on Fox News for pushing misinformation and political scare campaigns.
Appearing last night on MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes, Fauci responded to Fox Nation host Lara Logan’s comparison of him to the Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele, saying it was “unconscionable” and an “insult to all of the people who suffered and died under the Nazi regime in the concentration camps.” Fauci also referred to inaccuracies in Logan’s other statements about COVID-19 and took issue with Fox News as a network, saying, “How they can let her say that with no comment and no disciplinary action. I’m astounded by that.”
However, Fauci may have correctly expected that his appearance with Cavuto would be much different than Fox’s usual fare. Recently, when Cavuto urged the network’s viewers to get vaccinated — following his own recent breakthrough infection as an immunocompromised person — he got bombarded with hate mail.
Though to be clear, Cavuto is not just some passive underling or lone voice within Fox. He also carries a corporate title as a senior vice president and managing editor of business news. It has also long been clear that the company’s management structure does not actually believe any of the anti-vaccine propaganda that the network otherwise peddles, as the company maintains a strict regimen of vaccination and testing for its employees. (According to Fox insiders, the COVID-19 lies have been “great for ratings.”)
Moreover, there was still a dog that did not bark during the over 20-minute interview, in a manner remarkably similar to Fauci’s appearance in October with Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. When Cavuto asked Fauci to explain the proper reasons why vaccination is important, even with the existence of breakthrough infections, he only said he had heard contrary arguments “from people,” ignoring that such misinformation has been spread for months by Fox’s top prime-time host Tucker Carlson.
Later on, Cavuto asked Fauci how he responded to various controversies throughout the pandemic, which have been complicated by both the overall situation and the scientific knowledge evolving as time went by. Cavuto then alluded to how Fauci was “a rockstar at the beginning” but “something changed with the controversy over the origins of all of this, what you knew, when you knew it.” He then asked, “without getting into those details,” whether Fauci had wanted to walk away from the public limelight.
The “details” that Cavuto clearly wanted to avoid are that multiple Fox News hosts — most notably Maria Bartiromo, Steve Hilton, and Tucker Carlson — have used their shows to spread a conspiracy theory claiming that Fauci was himself connected to the creation of COVID-19 in a Chinese laboratory.
Fauci also bemoaned “there really has been a considerable degree of politicization about all of this” — a remark that was only just scratching the surface. Indeed, ever since the beginning of the pandemic, Fox’s biggest names have cast Fauci as a shadowy and ill-intentioned figure. The network’s hosts also attempted early on to convince then-President Donald Trump to fire him, and those calls continued into the Biden era.
So when Cavuto talked about how “something changed” regarding Fauci’s reputation as a scientist,” he was definitely leaving some key details out of this conversation.