Seeing as how more and more Americans seemed to have stopped listening to him, New York Times reporter-turned columnist Frank Bruni worshipped at the feet of Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease expert and ubiquitous presidential coronavirus advisor, in the Sunday Review with this valentine: “We Owe Fauci Gratitude, Not Grief.”
As is often the case, the online version had a different headline and it groveled even lower: “So Anthony Fauci Isn’t Perfect. He’s Closer Than Most of Us. -- We owe him gratitude, not grief.
Bruni treated the professional COVID pessimist like a secular saint:
The phrases “public servant” and “public service” are exhausted to the point of meaninglessness….But if anyone ever deserved to be described in those terms, it’s Anthony Fauci. That was true before the coronavirus. It’s truer now -- despite the times when he has revised his message on how to deal with it, despite assessments of the pandemic that didn’t bear out and despite Republicans’ efforts to use all of that to turn him into some bespectacled Beelzebub.
Shocker of shockers: Fauci isn’t perfect. But he has been perfectly sincere, perfectly patient, a professional standing resolutely outside so many of the worst currents of American life. More than that, he has been essential. We owe him an immeasurable debt of gratitude, not the mind-boggling magnitude of grief that he gets.
So how has Fauci (whose public pessimism has validated liberal lockdown sentiments) proven to be not “perfect” over the past year or so? Bruni kept quiet on the details.
Instead, he kvetched: “When Representative Jim Jordan, doing a fan dance for Fox News, tore into Fauci as a doomsday addict less intent on saving people’s lives than on scrapping people’s liberties….the demonization of Fauci hasn’t just survived Donald Trump’s presidency but metastasized since its end.”
Bruni accurately noted Fauci, reportedly the highest-paid federal employee in the country, has few fans in the conservative press, but never fleshed out the missteps and false statements that have tarnished Fauci’s reputation on the right. In turn, he played a usual trick of liberals, which is to make conservatives appear like moronic and uneducated loons (click “expand”):
In the span of one week this month, National Review published articles titled “Anthony Fauci Has Worn Out His Welcome,” “Anthony Fauci’s Misadventures in Fortune-Telling” and “Another Dismal Sunday-Show Circuit for Dr. Fauci.”
He managed somehow to correct Trump and yet not be replaced with a sycophant who would have fed the former president’s delusions and further endangered Americans’ lives.
That’s more than public service. That’s magic. And he was thanked for it with death threats, issued not just to him but also to his family, and with a piece of mail that, when he opened it, sprayed an unidentified white powder all over him….
What Bruni skipped: As the pandemic spread in early spring of 2020, when sound advice could have saved thousands, Fauci insisted the public shouldn't be wearing masks. He has even recommended people wear two masks (up from zero), but the press failed to point out he had previously discouraged their use.
Fauci spread the so-called noble lie about not wearing masks early on to save them for health care workers (and moving the goalposts in the Times itself regarding the percentage of vaccine compliance needed to achieve herd immunity): “When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent….Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, ‘I can nudge this up a bit,’ so I went to 80, 85.”
This is science?
Also, Fauci’s unyielding COVID pessimism, especially as the nation’s most prominent messenger, risks successful vaccine distribution in the United States. But Bruni ignored all of that to promote Fauci as a (nearly) perfect public servant.