Who will hold Dr Fauci to account?

'America's Covid doctor' is still in denial about the damage done by lockdown.

Cory Franklin

Topics Covid-19 Politics USA

In the era of feudal Japan, those of the samurai class who failed in their duty to the public were expected to atone honorably by committing seppuku – ritual suicide. Fortunately for Dr Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), this isn’t what is expected in 21st-century America.

Two members of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic said earlier this month that, in a closed-door hearing, Fauci told them he was ‘not convinced’ that children suffered learning loss due to school closures during the pandemic.

If that account is true, the man who once said ‘I represent science’ is willfully dismissing compelling data from the National Assessment of Education Progress. These show dramatic declines in reading and maths scores among American grade schoolers, including precipitous declines among students from poorer schools, aggravating the inequalities in an already two-tier system. There is no Western country where school closures did not harm children in some way. Virtually every parent and most educators agree that the loss of learning was significant. So why is Fauci not convinced?

He clearly has a short memory. Less than two years ago, in an interview with ABC News’ This Week programme, Fauci admitted there was a ‘steep cost’ associated with school closures during the pandemic. At the time, he maintained that he was blameless, and claimed it was the fault of school officials. He repeated this claim, that he had nothing to do with the school closures, in a New York Times interview in the spring of 2023: ‘Show me a school that I shut down… Never. I never did.’

It’s true that Fauci did not personally shut down any schools. But it is undeniable that the whole country, including the teachers’ unions, local governments and school districts, hung on every word from ‘America’s Covid doctor’. His advice, more than that of any other individual, prompted wholesale school closures.

Why aren’t the media holding him to account for this? Fauci’s claims that he is blameless for school closures and that they didn’t do much harm anyway have received very little challenge. Journalists’ silence on the untruths of ‘America’s Covid doctor’ is alarming.

This is not the only issue on which the press has given a free pass to Fauci. With an elan Muhammad Ali would have envied, Fauci has bobbed and weaved on other Covid controversies, including the origin of the virus, the appropriate distance between humans to avoid viral spread and the suppression of lockdown criticism.

It may not be within Fauci’s ken to definitively answer where Covid came from – to rule on whether it was naturally occurring, or man-made at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. But he certainly knows much more than he has let on about the gain-of-function research that may well have created the virus. We now know that a non-governmental organisation with ties to the Wuhan lab was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the parent organisation of Fauci’s NIAID. He has been grilled about this in Congress. But there has been virtually no follow-up in the press since then.

Likewise, no one has taken Fauci to task for his widely debated six-feet rule for social distancing. He recently claimed that the policy ‘sort of just appeared’ without a solid scientific basis. Now he tells us.

There have also been crickets from most of the news media about his attempts to silence critics of the lockdowns – in particular those who published their own alternative plan, known as the Great Barrington Declaration. The declaration emphasised aggressive protection for the elderly and other especially vulnerable groups, but with broad freedom for everyone else. As the Wall Street Journal reported at the time the Great Barrington Declaration was published, Facebook censored mentions of it, while the media sought to discredit it, citing Fauci as the ultimate scientific authority.

Instead of asking tough questions of Fauci, the media generally fawned over him during the pandemic. There was a hagiographic documentary. There were flattering profiles in the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as cover stories in Time and People. The most cringe-inducing was a profile in digital-fashion magazine InStyle. It featured ‘The Good Doctor’ wearing sunglasses, sitting by the pool and observing, ‘With all due modesty, I think I’m pretty effective’.

By contrast, the media have steadfastly avoided any substantial coverage of Dr Fauci’s failings. They have allowed one of the most powerful men of the pandemic era to shirk all responsibility. Will he ever be held accountable?

Dr Cory Franklin is the author of the forthcoming book, The Covid Diaries 2020-2024: Anatomy of a Contagion As It Happened.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Covid-19 Politics USA


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