Dr. Anthony Fauci has garnered a lot of hopeful admiration as the voice of science in an administration that disdains politically inconvenient facts, scientific or other. The poor guy has to walk a tightrope. He knows that the president of the United States is a narcissistic jerk, but he can’t antagonize the jerk if he is to stay in his critical job. Nobody who works for Trump can be a reliable truthteller. So, much as we may respect and sympathize with Fauci, we need to realize that he will not—cannot—always give us the unvarnished truth. Kevin Drum points to the dance Fauci did at his boss’s recent press conference:
On Friday Fauci appeared with President Trump and was asked about Trump’s latest infatuation:
Q And to Dr. Fauci, if I could. Dr. Fauci — this was explained yesterday — there has been some promise with hydroxychloroquine as potential therapy for people who are infected with coronavirus. Is there any evidence to suggest that, as with malaria, it might be used as a prophylaxis against COVID-19?
FAUCI: No. The answer is no. [emphasis added]
Trump then spent the next ten minutes in a back-and-forth with reporters extolling the virtues of hydroxychloroquine and arguing that he felt really, really good about its potential. And people should listen, because he’s a smart guy. It ended with this final follow-up to Fauci:
Q I would like Dr. Fauci, if you don’t mind, to follow up on what the President is saying. Should Americans have hope in this drug right now? . . .
FAUCI: No, there really isn’t that much of a difference in many respects with what we’re saying.The President feels optimistic about something — his feeling about it. What I’m saying is that it might — it might be effective. I’m not saying that it isn’t.It might be effective. But as a scientist, as we’re getting it out there, we need to do it in a way as — while we are making it available for people who might want the hope that it might work, you’re also collecting data that will ultimately show that it is truly effective and safe under the conditions of COVID-19. So there really isn’t difference. It’s just a question of how one feels about it.
It only took Trump 10 minutes to turn the straight talking Fauci into a mealy-mouth.