Anthony Fauci emails: Doctor ‘not muzzled’ by Trump early in pandemic
'I have been very explicit in stating publicly that I am not being muzzled or censored. I say exactly what I want to say based on scientific evidence'
Dr Anthony Fauci was “not muzzled” by Donald Trump when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the US, public emails obtained by Buzzfeed News claimed. The over 3,200 pages of emails that were exchanged between the White House chief medical adviser and public health experts and ordinary US citizens for nearly six months -- January 2020 to June 2020 -- have shown that Dr Fauci was not restricted by the former President in the early days of the public health crisis.
A March 1, 2020, email from Thomas Murray, who calls himself a “nuclear/aerospace engineer who subsequently obtained an MPH [Master of Public Health degree] at the University of Washington” has asked the 80-year-old, “The news media is reporting that the White House has muzzled you. Is that true?” In the email, Murray also said, “let me know if I should stay silent or become noisy.” To which, Dr Fauci replied: “Please stay silent since I have not been muzzled. I will be on multiple TV shows tomorrow and was on FOX this AM. No one is censoring me.”
The same kind of inquiry was made by syndicated columnist Bob Franken at the same time and Dr Fauci had responded, “I have never been given orders to get approval from the VP’s [Mike Pence] people to speak publicly about coronavirus. Ever since I have been doing this since the Reagan administration, whenever a member of the Executive Branch such as me gets invited and goes on National TV such as the Sunday Talk shows, there is always a routine process of clearing it with your department (in this case HHS) who then clears it with the White House.”
“This is routine and has been true for the Reagan, Bush ’41, Clinton, Bush ’43, Obama, and now the Trump administration. That is merely a formality so that they know what is coming out from the executive branch … I have never been muzzled or told that I could not speak out publicly about anything during this administration,” he added.
Dr Fauci also got an email from University of Pittsburgh immunology professor Mark Jay Shlomchik, who reportedly asked him if he has been ordered not to speak publicly about the coronavirus without prior approval from the Oval office. Shlomchik asked, “If it is, I think that — in the interests of public health and the integrity of science in the US — you must not acquiesce but instead resign and speak out. If it is not true, then please refute it and set the record straight.” Dr Fauci answered, “The story is not true. I am not being muzzled or censored.”
Shlomchik then urged the immunologist to say this publicly by adding, “Your personal integrity is at stake here in the community and the world, and is a proxy for the integrity of science and medicine.” Dr Fauci countered, “I have been very explicit in stating publicly that I am not being muzzled or censored. I say exactly what I want to say based on scientific evidence. I have stated this on multiple TV programs over the past few days including at a major press conference with many, many reporters present including several TV cameras. I could not possibly be more public about this. No censor. No muzzle. Free to speak out.”
However, when a hard-hitting email from activist and Yale School of Public Health associate professor Gregg Gonsalves tagging Dr Fauci read, “All we see is genuflection in word and deed from most of you to a White House that wants this all to magically go away. Yes, I know you’re all doing your best and behind the scenes our federal government is hard at work … But time is running out. We need vocally, unequivocal leadership now, that offers real guidance to communities about what to do, what might happen next … The status quo is untenable. It’s going to get people killed by this virus.” The message was sent to members of the White House coronavirus task force.
Dr Fauci soon hit back at that email by stating, “I am surprised that you included me in your note. I genuflect to no one but science and always, always speak my mind when it comes to public health. I have consistently corrected misstatements by others and will continue to do so.” In response, Gonsalves said: “Tony, that part of the message was not directed at you,” before adding, “[then-CDC Director Robert] Redfield and [then-Health and Human Services] Secretary [Alex] Azar haven’t been as forthright as you have … Most of the career civil servants on the email were copied not to chastise, it’s the political appointees that most think got us into this mess.”