Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the American people’s only hopes for competency in the Trump administration as it combats the novel coronavirus, appeared on Fox News in an interview with Laura Ingraham Thursday night and — much like he does during Trump press conferences — batted back misinformation.
Ingraham began by asking about the plan to reopen the country and tried to pit Fauci against prominent Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, but Fauci didn’t bite.
“Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls this plan of yours and the president’s vague and inconsistent, and this is what Joe Biden said about it just moments ago,” Ingraham said before playing footage of Biden criticizing the president during a CNN town hall.
“I wouldn’t call it a plan,” Biden said. “I think what he’s done is he’s kind of punted. He’s decided that he’s doesn’t have the right to make the call for the country.” But in context, Biden was criticizing the president who first said he had “total authority” to control states before then announcing voluntary actions states could take.
The clip then cut to Biden saying, “This isn’t going to be over until we have a vaccine.”
Biden then continued — though Ingraham did not include this part of the clip — and said that we need testing before we talk about going back to normal, “This ain’t going to be over till we have a vaccine, and we’re not going to be able to really make significant changes in the three phases the president’s talking about or any phases until we’re able to test much more broadly.”
Ingraham tried to disingenuously bait Fauci, saying that Biden was criticizing him as well when he clearly wasn’t. “Punted, you punted, all of you people working on this,” she said. “And apparently he’s claiming that you didn’t listen to yourself since you are a scientist.”
“Well there’s truth to that,” Fauci said, essentially agreeing with the former vice president and not Ingraham. “It’s not going to be over to the point of our being able to not do any mitigation until we have a scientifically sound, safe and effective vaccine.”
Later in the interview, Ingraham repeated a Trump talking point — this time one from February when the president said the virus will “disappear.” “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” the president said with zero proof.
Ingraham asked Fauci, “Dr. Fauci, on the question of a vaccine: We don’t have a vaccine for SARS. I mean, we got close in mice. We don’t have a vaccine for HIV. And life did go on, right?”
“Well, no, but Laura, this is different,” Fauci said. “HIV/AIDS is entirely different. We don’t have a vaccine for HIV/AIDS, but we have spectacularly effective treatment. People who invariably would have died years ago right now are leading essentially normal lives. SARS is a different story. SARS disappeared… We developed a vaccine, we were in the process of going through the various phases, we showed it was safe, we showed it induced a good response. And then SARS disappeared. So I think it’s a little bit misleading, maybe, to compare what we’re going through now with HIV or SARS. They’re really different.”
“But we don’t know. This could disappear,” Ingraham insisted. “I mean, SARS pretty much did disappear. This could as well, correct?”
Fauci responded, “You know, anything could, Laura, but I have to tell you, the degree of efficiency of transmissibility of this is really unprecedented in anything I’ve seen. It’s an extraordinarily efficient virus transmitting from one person to another.”
Ingraham tried to cut Fauci off at that point, but he continued, definitively saying, “Those kinds of viruses don’t just disappear.”
What Ingraham and the rest of Fox News are doing by giving credence to conspiracy theories about the virus is dangerous. And it’s undoubtedly fueling the recent events in the midwest and Virginia, where people are intentionally violating social distancing recommendations to protest in favor of resuming business as usual.