Trump Falsely Scapegoats Fauci For His Own Failures

The Trump Administration has unleashed a smear campaign against America's leading infectious disease expert when we need him most.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Taskforce, addresses his remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Monday, March 16, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Taskforce, addresses his remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Monday, March 16, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Dr. Anthony Fauci has served as the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, advising every US President since Ronald Reagan. He played a role during the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the Ebola virus crisis, and has become a familiar figure throughout the coronavirus outbreak, appearing at briefings and in media interviews to ensure the public is informed about the true scale and impact of the virus. However, throughout this recent health crisis, there has been a noticeable divide between Fauci and the Trump administration.

Fauci’s open and honest approach has, at times, clashed with the President and his associates, who are doing everything they can to defend Donald Trump from any potential criticism that could harm his re-election chances. Previously, this divide has been going on mainly behind the scenes, but it’s now spilled out into public view, with the White House privately leaking to the press against Fauci. White House Trade Advisor, Peter Navarro, has gone further, writing a USA Today op-ed attacking Fauci.

It has become clear, especially with the events of the last week, that the Trump administration is determined to turn Fauci into a scapegoat over the coronavirus outbreak. There are two reasons behind their attempts to do this. Firstly, as we have seen since before the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the US, Trump is intent on minimizing the impact of the contagion, framing it as a mild inconvenience rather than recognizing the reality of it being a devastating and deadly health crisis.

Secondly, while Fauci maintains prominence in the public eye, and continues to be viewed as a credible figure, he will be a constant reminder to the citizens of America of the ever-present threat posed by the disease, as well as the Trump administration’s failures to save lives due to their apparent inability to stop the virus from spreading.

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These motivations were clear in the decision from the White House to restrict Fauci’s media appearances. As Trump and his administration were stating that the falling death rate was evidence that the approach they were taking was a success, Fauci stated that it would be a “false narrative to take comfort in a lower rate of death”. In retaliation, Donald Trump publicly contradicted Fauci, the White House canceled his scheduled media appearances and then, days later, released to the media a list of mistakes which it was alleged Fauci had made over the last few months.

This restriction and retaliation shows that the Trump administration will promote bluff and bluster, rather than allow a medical expert with a distinguished career to provide the public with information about the reality of the situation. Trump doesn’t want to accept the true scale of the crisis and respond accordingly. Of course, by not doing so, he will continue to hurt America, both in terms of public health and economically, by allowing the virus to spread, thus forcing states across the country to remain in a level of shutdown because he’s so focused on presenting a positive, if false, image ahead of his re-election fight.

The problem with Trump’s behavior is that it has a knock-on effect, leading to another issue arising. During any crisis, those who are affected or at risk need an individual who they can trust and look to for reliable information. As we have seen from actions already taken, the White House’s decision to undermine and contradict scientific advice can have a deadly impact. Unsurprisingly, it is now believed that Trump’s rally in Tulsa was responsible for a spike in cases in the area, according to a Tulsa official. By ignoring the statements made by experts, or dismissing them in order to try and mitigate PR damage, Trump is encouraging ordinary citizens to follow suit and reject the evidence presented to them. Undoubtedly, this will result in those citizens putting themselves and others at unnecessary risk – a risk now being potentially extended to children.

Ultimately, this has always been about Election Day in November. In a desperate attempt to secure re-election, Donald Trump wants to conceal the truth from the American public and, if necessary, ensure that he has a scapegoat who can be used, unwillingly, to take the blame for the failures that have seen the US have over 3.6 million confirmed Covid-19 cases, with more than 140,000 people dying from the disease thus far and new record high case numbers each day. This is why the White House has taken control of hospital data collection. He knows that, in the current circumstances, he will struggle to be re-elected, even with the incumbency bonus that he might expect to receive, if his approval figures continue to look as dire as they do.

Unfortunately for Fauci, he has become a pawn in the Trump administration’s game. By attacking Fauci, undermining him, and trying to discredit him, Trump believes that his two problems outlined earlier will be addressed. He thinks that he can remove a figure who, in an attempt to reveal the true scale of the virus, has clashed with the President. Additionally, Trump is seeking to distance himself from any potential blowback for the failures that have made America one of the worst-hit nations. Ultimately, he might prove to be misguided, with polls indicating that many of the American people will not be fooled by such moves. Nevertheless, Trump is willing to do whatever he can to try to stop the sinking ship that is his campaign.

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It’s been clear at all stages that the Trump administration has been uncomfortable with experts publicly making statements or warnings that contradict White House assertions designed to cover-up their failures. Scapegoating an individual who has spent decades working in his field shows how the Trump administration will do anything to avoid accountability for its actions. It has always been the modus operandi of this President to discredit public officials who decline to follow the party line, even where the President had appointed some of those officials just a short time earlier.

That alone should be of deep concern to voters but, more than that, it reveals a worrying wider pattern about the way Trump and his colleagues will handle issues, from health crises to military conflicts to financial situations. Accountability is a key feature of any democracy and it’s clear that the Trump administration has no interest in allowing it to occur. Removing proper accountability is destructive to a functioning democracy, especially one that, as in America, relies on a system of checks and balances.

The reality is that the Trump administration is all too aware of its failure in handling the coronavirus outbreak, but will do anything, however desperate, to cling to power in November. Furthermore, by refusing to publicly accept their failures, the Trump administration is ensuring that the steps needed to start to undo the catastrophic damage caused by their failed response will not take place. They clearly have no intention to change course or alter strategy, thereby ensuring more people will get infected and ultimately die from the virus.

Throughout his presidential campaign and the time that he has been in the White House, Trump and his associates have almost prided themselves on having a passing acquaintance with the truth. If there is one thing that could be described as the key feature of his political career, it’s Trump’s willingness to mislead and confuse for personal and political gain. In speech after speech since his inauguration, Trump alone has racked up a list of over 20,000 false or misleading statements, according to The Washington Post.

The attitude that has been taken during this crisis, when the essential need for truth and reliable information has been wilfully ignored, is something that should worry all Americans. If Trump and his team are willing to scapegoat experts and throw them under the metaphorical bus during a situation of this magnitude in his first term in office, it should be very concerning indeed to all right-minded Americans when they consider what he would be prepared to do if he gets four more years in the White House.

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News // Coronavirus / Donald Trump / Dr. Fauci / Health / Science