The disinformation network known as Fox News recently told its viewers that Dr. Anthony Fauci is the “guy who created covid” after, mere days earlier, another host said the White House’s chief medical adviser had been unfairly “vilified” and treated as though he’s “Lex Luthor.”
On Wednesday, Fox’s Tucker Carlson continued with his callous and dangerous campaign to downplay the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine, escalating his efforts to discredit the nation’s leading infectious disease expert by falsely labeling Fauci as “the guy who created covid.”
But just last week, after a Senate hearing where Fauci defended himself against false attacks from Sen. Rand Paul regarding the origins of the virus, Fox’s Neil Cavuto bemoaned the widespread disparaging of the doctor, calling it a “pile on.”
“He has been vilified to the point that you’d think he was Lex Luthor,” Cavuto said. “I don’t know how productive that is.”
Cavuto also said the attacks on Fauci were, “odd to me,” adding that “at his core, [Fauci] is a good man, a good doctor” and saying his detractors should “step back, take the chill down.”
— Peter Wade (@brooklynmutt) July 29, 2021
Tucker’s dedication to vilifying Fauci with a seemingly farcical label is similar to what former president Trump has done in the past when attempting to discredit his opponents. When Trump was on the campaign trail in 2016, he falsely claimed that former president Barack Obama “founded ISIS” and his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton was “the co-founder.”
Affixing a title that is easy to remember and feeds a narrative that the audience is already apt to believe seems a tactic Tucker and the president share. But unlike the ridiculous nicknames that Trump has trotted out over the years—such as Sleepy Joe for Biden, Crazy Nancy for Pelosi or Low Energy Jeb for Bush—labeling Obama as a terrorist leader seems to signal a more personal motivation, possibly with the aim to exact revenge. According to numerous reports, Trump never got past the public humiliation from the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011 where Obama relentlessly roasted the then-reality show host.
And so Tucker’s labeling of Fauci as the creator of a virus that has killed millions worldwide seems to align with Trump’s Obama “founded ISIS” smear—an attempt at seeking revenge on the doctor for daring to disagree, as Cavuto explained.
“I think that a lot of this has to go back to his departure from the former president, Donald Trump at the time,” Cavuto said. “But whatever is behind it, I don’t see it being constructive.”
Just days after Cavuto’s initial defense of the doctor, the host interviewed Fauci, who agreed with Cavuto’s take that those who support Trump are against him because he dared to be truthful about the virus, even sometimes contradicting what was coming out the former administration—thus making Trump look bad and angering his supporters.
“I think there’s no doubt that because I had to speak the truth during the Trump administration, which at times was contrary to president Trump, that annoyed a lot of people who got very upset with me,” Fauci said. “When I was saying things that [Covid-19] is not going to just disappear, that this is not going to just go away, that we do have a very serious problem, that annoyed a lot of Trump loyalists.”
Tucker is a consistent Trump apologist on his show and reportedly speaks to the former president regularly. The host falls squarely into the group of bomb-throwing Trump sycophants including fellow Fox colleague Laura Ingraham and sitting politicians like Paul and Congressman Jim Jordan, all of whom seem bent on exacting some kind of revenge on Fauci.
“I’m very sorry that [contradicting Trump] annoyed them,” Fauci told Cavuto. “But it is the truth. And that’s what I was trying to do and still do, [which] is to tell the truth.”