The Washington Post released a few of the 866 pages of Dr. Antony Fauci’s emails from March-April 2020 that they obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and they reveal a man under enormous pressure from all sides.
Fauci is an old-fashioned man with courtly manners, trying to answer even the most insignificant emails despite the volume of correspondence nearly overwhelming him at times, according to the WaPo report. Many times, his responses came well after midnight, begging the question of how the 80-year old Fauci could maintain his energy during the long days and nights during the pandemic.
The emails found that Fauci had maintained a relationship with a Chinese scientist, George Gao, who was also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Gao had apparently criticized Fauci in an interview, saying that Western nations that didn’t mask up were making a “big mistake.”
“I saw the Science interview, how could I say such a word ‘big mistake’ about others? That was journalist’s wording. Hope you understand,” Gao wrote to Fauci in a March 28 email. “Lets [sic] work together to get the virus out of the earth.”
“I understand completely. No problem,” Fauci wrote back. “We will get through this together.”
Fauci’s actions during that period and beyond remain an intense focus for many Americans and political leaders. Now serving his seventh president, Fauci, 80, is helping to craft President Biden’s pandemic strategy, and many Republicans accuse him of playing a key role in Trump’s loss in the November election.
During daily televised briefings at the White House, Fauci emerged as an at times reluctant — and polarizing — media star: To Trump supporters, he was a contrarian who seemed to undermine the president at every turn, while others viewed him as a reassuring voice of reason. The emails show that he was inundated with correspondence from colleagues, hospital administrators, foreign governments and random strangers — about 1,000 messages a day, he says at one point — writing to seek his advice, solicit his help or simply offer encouragement.
Gao was apparently worried that Fauci was being criticized for his contradictory messaging about the pandemic.
After Fauci faced threats from Trump supporters who blamed him for supporting social distancing rules that closed schools, tanked the economy and threatened Trump’s reelection prospects, Gao, a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, emailed again.
“I saw some news (hope it is fake) that [you] are being attacked by some people. Hope you are well under such a irrational situation,” Gao wrote on April 8.
“Thank you for your kind note,” Fauci replied three days later. “All is well despite some crazy people in this world.”
Fauci — and the United States — would have been better off if Fauci had kept his mouth shut. His advice was contradictory because those researching the brand new virus were finding new information almost every day, which often made Fauci’s advice obsolete. It made him look ridiculous. As a scientist, Fauci knew this and yet continued to offer opinions about how Covid-19 was spread, how it infected people, and what should be done to stay safe.
The position on Donald Trump’s pandemic response council Fauci held meant he had to be both a scientist and a politician. He failed at both. As a science bureaucrat, he had likely performed the normal PR duties all agency heads do, but he never had 100 million people hanging on his every word.
As a politician, he never fathomed the damage he was doing to the president’s re-election chances by constantly undermining what Trump was trying to say. The media lionized him because he made Trump look foolish at times, not because he was a brilliant scientist who spoke the truth about the pandemic. In fact, as we all saw, his “truth” one day easily becomes a “conspiracy theory” the next.
Fauci will always be remembered as a hero on the left and a villain on the right. But he is neither. He was a public health bureaucrat in over his head and did the best he could — which wasn’t good enough.