In an apparent effort to control its media messaging on the potential impacts of coronavirus, the White House appears to be locking down any media appearances by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Fauci has “told associates that the White House had instructed him not to say anything else without clearance.” This after President Donald Trump and Fauci gave differing messages on the virus — Trump said nobody knew whether the situation might get better or worse, while Fauci described COVID-19 as “a serious virus.”
Then on MSNBC’s Friday edition of MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson, Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) — whose district has become a focal point of the outbreak in the U.S. and who has blamed inaction by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — said he had heard directly from Fauci himself that his planned media appearances had been called off.
This isn’t the first time that Trump has objected to the statements of an actual medical expert during a potential pandemic — indeed, it’s not even the first time he’s publicly opposed this specific medical expert.
As Mediaite uncovered, back in 2014 Trump made frequent appearances on Fox & Friends to disparage the Obama administration’s handling of the Ebola scare. Among the targets of his disdain was one Dr. Anthony Fauci. During a particular morning appearance that October, when the co-hosts asked Trump to respond to Fauci’s statement that a travel ban could make the situation worse, Trump rejected his advice, declaring, “Well, I think it’s ridiculous.”
Fox personalities such as Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace and then-Fox & Friends co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck also questioned Fauci on the government’s handling of the situation during the Ebola epidemic.
Recently, Fox News has been more positive toward Fauci, with the network’s own medical expert, Dr. Marc Siegel, praising Fauci’s “many decades of experience on this.”