Did Jesse Watters REALLY tell AmericaFirst crowd to kill Dr Fauci? What THAT comment meant
The Republican Party, and right-wing in general seem to really hate Dr Anthony Fauci. For over a year, the chief White House medical adviser has been under attack from the right for pushing masks and vaccines to combat the coronavirus. From Sen Ted Cruz to Donald Trump himself, Fauci has had to fend off attacks from leading Republicans for his medical advice. The latest to take a dig at him is Fox News anchor Jesse Watters, who appeared to make some truly troubling comments at a conservative conference in late December.
Lara Logan joined the chorus of right-wing commentators in late November when she compared Fauci to the Nazi scientist Josef Mengele. Others who attacked America's top disease expert include Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who slammed Fauci for writing a book, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson. In fact, Fauci has become a regular punching bag for Carlson, especially during the early days of the pandemic when the origin of the virus was greatly debated.
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Watters joins the long list with his comments at the Turning Points USA conference in Pheonix, Arizona on December 21, 2021. As with other anchors, Fox has defended Watters are refused to take action, noting "Jesse Watters was using a metaphor for asking hard-hitting questions to Dr. Fauci about gain-of-function research and his words have been twisted completely out of context."
What did Watters say?
The right-wing conference saw other darlings of the right speak such as Donald Trump Jr., Sarah Palin, and Kyle Rittenhouse, but it was Watters that clearly got the most attention. He told the crowd, "You got to ambush a guy like Fauci ... you got to be respectful because they'll turn the tables on you and you can't have it blow up in your face." He then went on to tell them how they could corner Fauci about his involvement in gain-of-function research.
After introducing themselves, Watters tells the crowd "Now you go in for the kill shot. The kill shot? With an ambush? Deadly. Because he doesn't see it coming." He adds, "This is when you say "Dr. Fauci, you funded risky research at a sloppy Chinese lab, the same lab that sprung this pandemic on the world. You know why people don't trust you, don't you?" Boom! He is dead!" as the crowd applauds. You can see the full five-minute speech as uploaded to YouTube by one individual here-
In response, Fauci told CNN's New Day, "The only thing that I have ever done throughout these two years is to encourage people to practice good public health practices... And for that you have some guy out there saying that people should be giving me a kill shot to ambush me? I mean, what kind of craziness is there in society these days?" He went on to say Watters should have been "fired on the spot", but acknowledged he would probably be "unaccountable" for his comments.
Did Watters really tell the crowd to kill Fauci?
At the heart of the debate is the phrasing Watters used. Fauci claims he told the crowd to kill him, an allegation Fox has vehemently denied. The network appears to have been vindicated in part by Snopes, the fact-checking platform. According to Snopes, "the context of Watters' remarks does not support the allegation that he literally urged people to kill Fauci." It did however note Watters' use of "violent language to convey his message."
Snopes confirms Watters was simply guiding the crowd to verbally confront Fauci, likely to generate news clips for right-wing media like Newsmax and Fox. It's a defense Fox has also stuck to in the case of Watters. The immunologist isn't the only one fighting Fox's attacks on him, President Joe Biden also joined in during a December 21 speech from The White House. Speaking to the public, the President said, "It’s wrong, it’s immoral, and I call on the purveyors of these lies and misinformation to stop it. Stop it now." But it seems like those requests have fallen on deaf ears.