Fox News attacks NIH chief Francis Collins for urging debunk of COVID-19 misinformation

Jason Chaffetz: “Shocking new emails show the NIH's lead men, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, coordinating a smear campaign against a group of scientists who opposed COVID lockdowns after they appeared on this show”

Video file

Citation From the December 20, 2021, edition of Fox News' The Ingraham Angle

JASON CHAFFETZ (GUEST HOST): Shocking new emails show the NIH's lead men, Dr. Fauci and Dr. Francis Collins, coordinating a smear campaign against a group of scientists who opposed COVID lockdowns after they appeared on this show.


CHAFFETZ: My next guest was one of the targets of Fauci and Collins' smear campaigns. Joining me now is Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Stanford school of medicine professor and original signer of the Great Barrington Declaration. Thank you so much. You got your medical degree from Stanford. You've been with Stanford for more than 20 years. I'd hardly call you somebody on the fringe, but I heard what Dr. Collins tried to characterize what this declaration said and it seemed to me he got it entirely wrong.

JAY BHATTACHARYA: No, he straight up lied. He basically said that we wanted the virus to spread, rip through the population, and Dr. Fauci said the same thing, it was a let it rip strategy. Anyone that reads the Great Barrington Declaration, you can go look online. That phrase does not appear in it because the central idea of the Great Barrington Declaration is the focused protection of the vulnerable. There's a thousandfold difference in the risk of severe outcomes. We know the elderly and old people and certain people with chronic diseases have high risk of bad outcomes if they get infected. So we should -- the Great Barrington Declaration said let's focus our attention on protecting those people. And at the same time, the lockdowns were harming so many other people, especially kids who were locked out of school, especially poor kids, and so we argued for opening up society for the rest of us while protecting the vulnerable. What I was expecting was an honest discussion. Instead, what we got was lies from the head of the NIH. It was absolutely shocking.

CHAFFETZ: Did you ever think that they would actually target you? They wanted a quote, unquote, "devastating response and takedown" of what you were advocating. And it wasn't just you, there were scientists from all over the world that were signing on to this.

Media Matters previously discussed Fox News' embrace of the Great Barrington Declaration:

Disregarding science and the millions of lives on the line, the Trump administration and its allies on Fox have signaled their support for an online movement called the “Great Barrington Declaration.” Developed by a libertarian think tank, the document calls for leaders to embrace herd immunity through what it calls “focused protection,” claiming, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.” 

The document contained clearly fake signatories like “Dr. Johnny Bananas” and an employee of the “university of your mum” before the names were removed from the site. According to The New York Times, two senior Trump administration officials touted the declaration during a call with reporters after White House officials met with its authors last week. Following their meeting with the Trump administration, Great Barrington authors Drs. Martin Kulldorff, Sunetra Gupta, and Jay Bhattacharya appeared on Fox’s The Ingraham Angle.

Prolific COVID-19 misinformer Laura Ingraham has led the way on Fox’s embrace of the herd immunity touted by the Great Barrington Declaration. On October 5, she hosted the document’s authors after they met with the White House. Ingraham said, “I’m in awe of your expertise and your courage in speaking out,” and she declared them “all brilliant, much smarter than most politicians.” She also said the Great Barrington strategy is “essentially … what the administration has been doing.” During the appearance, Kulldorff touted the newly released document and connected the proposed approach to the views of Trump’s hand-picked right-wing media coronavirus “adviser” Scott Atlas. Bhattacharya said that “denying herd immunity is like denying gravity. Gravity exists and herd immunity exists.”