It was May 5, 2020 and CNN's Chris Cillizza was in an exuberant mood. Why? Because he was certain that Dr. Anthony Fauci had put President Donald Trump in his place for daring to suggest that the origin of COVID-19 could have been from a leak at the Wuhan lab. Cillizza's triumphant attitude was reflected in the title of his story, "Anthony Fauci just crushed Donald Trump's theory on the origins of the coronavirus."
For weeks now, President Donald Trump has been making the case that the coronavirus originated not in nature but in a lab in Wuhan, China. He said late last week that he had a "high degree of confidence" that was what happened (although he didn't specify why he felt that way) and on Sunday night in a Fox town hall offered cryptically "something happened."
Enter Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and perhaps the single most prominent doctor in the world at the moment. In an interview with National Geographic posted on Monday night, Fauci was definitive about the origins of the virus which has sickened more than a million Americans and killed more than 68,000:
"If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what's out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated ... Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species."
Now, before we play the game of "he said, he said" remember this: Only one of these two people is a world-renowned infectious disease expert. And it's not Donald Trump.
In short, Fauci's view on the origins of the disease matters a whole lot more than Trump's opinion about where it came from. Especially because, outside of Trump and his immediate inner circle, most people in a position to know are very, very skeptical of the Trump narrative that the virus came out of a lab -- whether accidentally or on purpose.
This kind of appeal to authority -- trust the Scientists, not the real estate mogul -- was constant in 2020. Every suspicion of China was considered "unscientific."
Flash forward a year to Monday, and how crestfallen was Cillizza that Fauci -- who "crushed" Trump in 2021 -- is now "hedging" in 2021. Uncertainty crept in: "Why is Anthony Fauci hedging on the origins of the coronavirus?"
Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, admitted earlier this month that he is no longer convinced that the Covid-19 pandemic originated naturally.
And here is Cillizza's conclusion which he wrote with no sense of irony:
Here's the point: The origins of the virus remain not fully known. Tracing that is, at root, a medical and public health question -- not a political one.
Not a political question like the way you, and much of the mainstream media, mocked the "debunked" Wuhan lab leak theory for political reasons because it was suggested by Trump?