Trump will probably fire Dr. Anthony Fauci if a Fox News host regurgitates tidbits of this Science Magazine interview. (Specifically, he’ll send Pence or another minion to fire Fauci because Trump is a coward and even the “you’re fired” tagline from his fake businessman reality TV show was a lie.) Excerpts:
Q: The first question everyone has is how are you?
A: Well, I’m sort of exhausted. But other than that, I’m good. I mean, I’m not, to my knowledge, coronavirus infected. To my knowledge, I haven’t been fired. [Laughs.]
Q: How are you managing to not get fired?
A: Well, that’s pretty interesting because to his [President Trump’s] credit, even though we disagree on some things, he listens. He goes his own way. He has his own style. But on substantive issues, he does listen to what I say.
Q: You’ve been in press conferences where things are happening that you disagree with, is that fair to say?
A: Well, I don’t disagree in the substance. It is expressed in a way that I would not express it, because it could lead to some misunderstanding about what the facts are about a given subject.
Q: You’re standing there saying nobody should gather with more than 10 people and there are almost 10 people with you on the stage. And there are certainly more than 10 journalists in the audience.
A: I know that. I’m trying my best. I cannot do the impossible.
Q: What about the travel restrictions? President Trump keeps saying that the travel ban for China, which began 2 February, had a big impact [on slowing the spread of the virus to the United States] and that he wishes China would have told us three to four months earlier and that they were “very secretive.” [China did not immediately reveal the discovery of a new coronavirus in late December, but by 10 January, Chinese researchers made the sequence of the virus public.] It just doesn’t comport with facts.
A: I know, but what do you want me to do? I mean, seriously Jon, let’s get real, what do you want me to do?
Q: Most everyone thinks that you’re doing a remarkable job, but you’re standing there as the representative of truth and facts but things are being said that aren’t true and aren’t factual.
A: The way it happened is that after he made that statement [suggesting China could have revealed the discovery of a new coronavirus three to four months earlier], I told the appropriate people, it doesn’t comport, because two or three months earlier would have been September. The next time they sit down with him and talk about what he’s going to say, they will say, by the way, Mr. President, be careful about this and don’t say that. But I can’t jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let’s try and get it corrected for the next time.
Q: You have not said China virus. [Trump frequently calls the cause of the spreading illness, known as coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a “China virus” or a “Chinese virus.”]
Q: And you never will, will you?
Q: What happens before each press conference? What do you do as a group?
A: We’re in the task force. We sit down for an hour and a half, go over all the issues on the agenda. And then we proceed from there to an ante room right in front of the Oval Office to talk about what are going to be the messages, what are the kind of things we’re going to want to emphasize? Then we go in to see the president, we present [our consensus] to him and somebody writes a speech. Then he gets up and ad libs on his speech. And then we’re up there to try and answer questions.
Q: At Friday’s press conference, you put your hands over your face when President Trump referred to the “deep State Department,” [a popular conspiracy theory]. It’s even become an internet meme. Have you been criticized for what you did?
A: No comment.
Q: Big Picture. We’ve had all this pandemic preparedness. Why did this fail? What went wrong?
A: I think we’ll have to wait until it is over and we look back before we can answer that. It’s almost like the fog of war. After the war is over, you then look back and say, wow, this plan, as great as it was, didn’t quite work once they started throwing hand grenades at us. It really is similar to that. Obviously, testing [for the new coronavirus] is one clear issue that needs to be relooked at. Why were we not able to mobilize on a broader scale? But I don’t think we can do that right now. I think it’s premature. We really need to look forward.
Q: Right now, why do we have a travel ban on visitors from China when there are few cases in China other than imported cases? What’s the logic?
A: I’m sorry. I was just looking at two text messages, one from a governor and one from the White House. I gotta get off.
Fauci is everything Trump is not: intelligent, successful, committed and widely respected. He has devoted 50 years of his career to protecting the public’s health.
Now, at age 79, instead of growing tomatoes and playing with his grandchildren, Fauci is walking a tightrope over boiling pools of lava, trying to appease a lying narcissist POTUS just enough to avoid being sacked while retaining broad credibility with the public. As long as Fauci is there, a toady-dominated task force contains at least one member of the reality-based community.
It’s difficult to imagine the present arrangement continuing for long. As the economy swirls around the drain (along with his reelection chances) and his emoluments resort scams stay idled, Trump will increasingly listen to people on Fox News who tell him what he wants to hear:
I suspect that Trump all-caps tweet is a livetweet of Fox from tonight (though obviously @MattGertz would know for sure). Host Steve Hilton used similar language. (No way that Trump read that Medium piece) pic.twitter.com/VS0I29Xgqx
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) March 23, 2020
It’s already happening, as Whitehouse notes above:
Watching a tide of pestilence sweep the globe and endanger our lives and livelihoods would be surreal and horrifying under any circumstance. That it’s occurring after the dumbest and meanest of our fellow citizens put their moron bully king in office makes it doubly so.
But the thought of that screechy, incompetent crybaby running the show without Dr. Fauci’s voice on the team is utterly terrifying. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Regardless, I expect Trump will move to end the lock-downs and business closures and resume normal operations before it’s safe to do so, most likely at the end of the initial 15 days.* If watching the three-year Trump presidency fail-parade has taught us anything, it’s that Trump is a short-term thinker and that securing his own benefit is the ultimate goal of any action he takes.
Trump started taking the pandemic seriously last week because downplaying it became untenable from a PR standpoint. He’ll stop taking it seriously because the economic costs to his scam empire and reelection hopes will become too steep to bear.
GOP governors will ride the Trump train straight to hell, taking their hapless passengers (myself included) along for the ride. Blue state governors will try to mitigate the damage in the areas they control. So, if you had “the GOP is literally a death cult” on your bingo card, congratulations!
*According to Reuters, Trump issued the “15 days to stop the spread” guidelines on March 16, so if I’m right, the quarantine measures would end on…April Fools’ Day. How fitting!
Whoa. I didn’t know he was that old.
If Trump fires Fauci, you’ll see the biggest stock market drop in history.
Fauci is the one person who might preserve his credibility by not distancing himself from Trump.
Bully for him. Too bad all of these orders have occurred at the governor’s level and he doesn’t actually have the authority to order them to rescind. The federal government has abdicated it’s leadership during this crisis, so even if they give such an order I can very easily see the states telling them to shove it.
I feel Dr. Fauci’s pain. I’ve been in the situation of having a total moron speaking lies and nonsense while representing a group of which I am a member. As a public school teacher, this happened more than once to me though without the life and death consequences. I hope he manages to keep his position to serve as a major irritant to the president* and a reliable source of information to the rest of us.
@PenAndKey: You’re right that the BLUE state governors would likely tell Trump to shove it, but I expect a lot of red state sheep would follow Trump off a cliff. It would make it that much harder for blue state governors to keep their citizens on board with business shutdowns if the orange moron was out there scolding them for ruining the economy. Even blue states have millions of MAGA idiots within their borders.
And bully for them. The GOP should be proud of them if they do, after all, STATE’S RIGHTS Uber alles, right? But that’s not how the GOP rolls. Cleek’s Law will take hold, and they will decry anyone who doesn’t support Trump to the death.
Yeah. I think the end result isn’t really going to be to bend the curve but to try to improve the supply chain needed to treat the seriously ill patients. Given the time lost and who’s in charge, that’s about all we can hope for, I fear.
People who have recovered from COVID-19 will be able to charge what they please for their work in 15 days.
As will people who lie about it.
Because people will be so desperate for money. Because the GOP will give it all to corporations.
The pandemic will last through the Summer and rise up again in the Fall. All because Trump is crazy and will encourage his supporters to “get out there” in 15 days.
Yes, he likely enjoys the thought of people dying. If he thinks about it. Because he thinks it will only kill the poor. But his actual only concern is getting a “good economy” so he can hold onto power and stay out of jail.
What an insane mess Biden will have. Can’t actually think of anyone better equipped to handle it. He will have the best advisers. And will listen to them. And will not support capital over labor.
The Times just put a new story up about tensions between Trump and Fauci:
Yeah, letting medical experts set policy to mitigate a pandemic: what were they thinking?
Whether Republican state governors do as Trump wants at the beginning of the month may depend on whether that’s politically viable for them. There is at least a possibility, depending on how the state of play re coronavirus is perceived, that it won’t be.
As much as I usually despise him, Mike Dewine, GOP governor of Ohio has really stepped up during this, and has made it clear he is in charge. He has issued shelter in place orders and has been ahead of the curve. He has also used it to declare that abortions are “elective” surgery and non-essential and ordered all abortion providers to shut their doors, but he’s a right to lifer to the end, so that’s not a surprise.
[email protected]: Fauci is a serious runner. I say this as a couch potato, there might be something to this physical fitness and exercise stuff after all.
On some other notes:
If Fauci gets fired, I hope he goes to work with Biden.
And also, when talking about Republican governors, let’s not forget Ohio’s own Mike DeWine, who is in fact closing down the state but with his own special touches: shutting down all abortions (they are “elective” surgeries is the excuse), and illegally cancelling the primary election (which in my county at least, included some very close local races and a very important and needed transportation levy).
Even when they are ostensively doing the correct thing, Republicans can’t help being Republicans.
It isn’t that Trump enjoys the thought of people dying – which is bad for his numbers. It’s rather that what’s primarily important to his narcissistic sociopath frame of mind are the economy and holding onto power, and not the adverse impact on ordinary people the illness is afflicting. He sees his relation to ordinary people in this as another sales job to sell the marks on another Trump promotion.
Wow. I can smell his desperation in that second tweet (i.e., re: news orgs) from all the way over here.
Damn I don’t subscribe to NYT.
@Amir Khalid: I hope good sense prevails. But knowing my red state dolts like I do, I suspect the citizenry will be seriously stir-crazy this week and, while watching the cases count spiraling up, will conclude that it’s not working, so screw it, let’s reopen the bars!
@bemused: Me neither, but they dropped their paywall for coronavirus coverage.
@Betty Cracker: As I said the day after Trump was elected, “We are totally screwed!” It was not put that delicately, but I am with my GrandBaby! If the nation survives this, it will be a miracle of mammoth proportions! My only query: how do they expect to run a country filled with survivors of their BS while did not vote for them? It is a mystery
Martial law only works if the people are scared. Survivors won’t be. They will be pissed.
Good news but does one have to sign in to something?
I should add that Columbus is working on rescheduling the primary. I’m guessing the emphasis will be on mail-in votes but who knows.
It will be an interesting question for political scientists on how the delay might have influenced voting and the eventual results.
I can think of many other academic disciplines that must be collecting data with abandon, there will be some interesting research coming out in a few years.
@Betty Cracker: Too bad HIPAA laws prevent live real-time coverage from emergency rooms.
An article about a country with grown-ups in charge:
But before they lift any restrictions, they’ll do everything in their power to make sure that Sheldon Adelson will be given a couple of hundred million to compensate him for all the income his enormous casinos in China and Singapore are losing.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
I predict that the market shuts down by Thursday, with credit seizing up by Monday.
These assclowns are the bastard step children of Big Tobacco. Anything is OK for a buck, up to and including killing off your clientele. Dumbasses. They can’t imagine anything except the status quo. They have no concept of how to keep an ‘economy’ going except thru piling more money into their Ponzi scheme market.
First, In this period of increasing social isolation, I’d like to extend a hearty “Thank You” to Al Gore for having had the foresight to invent the internet. /
Secondly, how much of the pandemic emergency-response funds do you suppose they are planning to steel for building the big beautiful wall instead of directing it to life saving measures? not /
(Did I use the / correctly? I don’t usually like to give away my attempts at ironic sarcasm/humor.)
At the current rate (doubling every 2 days), the US will have 1 million cases by April 1st. It will probably slow down a bit (don’t know if there’s even capacity to test that many cases), but 200-300,000 is still very likely. “Going back to normal” is not going to be a popular decision at that point.
Republican Party delenda est.
...now I try to be amused
If Trump fired Dr. Fauci, I wonder what would happen if Dr. Fauci ignored it and continued working. He’d be banned from Trump’s press conferences, but a responsible press would attend Dr. Fauci’s own press conferences.
China has around 81,000 total cases, so hopefully our measures will put us in similar territory (one can hope). Someone here mentioned Paul Krugman tweeting the other day that americans will only do this stuff for a couple of weeks, and I tend to agree. Remote work will probably go on for all of April, and I don’t know about schools. But I think it’s important to get the country moving sooner rather than later. There will be measures in place, especially around medical locations and old people places, etc. Like the security changes we saw post 9/11.
Our detection of hotspots needs to be spot on, and I’m hopeful of the medical community working out some treatments for it.
I’m of two minds about my former schoolmate Tony Fauci (we overlapped two years in high school). I see that he is trying to keep to a fine line between truth and pandering, but like many of those who associate with DJT he seems to be slipping slowly towards the Trump black hole. In high school we were exposed to the Jesuit theory of double-effect (I think that’s what it was called) where doing good allowed some room for coinciding bad consequences. I always thought that theological argument was crap, when one was deliberately aware of the potential bad results.
I worry with his exhaustion and daily pressure that he may not realize how much he seems at times to apologize for DJT’s mean and uninformed comments. Trump is going to dislike critical truth, and that dislike will fester, and eventually Fauci will have to step one way or the other.
@Ohio Mom: If you are capable of it, physical exercise is the best answer to the virus. It is good for your resperatory system. And it has a calming effect when you finish a workout. I am doing exercises every day. And I am getting stronger. It gives me more confidence that I’m going to get through this. I know all this is obvious, but it needs to be said.
I want to thank Betty and the rest of the Balloon-Juice front-pagers and most of the commenters. I actually consider this one of my primary news sources, and I read a lot of news. Your efforts and knowledge are appreciated.
@…now I try to be amused:
I guess it depends on exactly what you mean by fired. The orange fart cloud can certainly keep Fauci out of the White House and White House news conferences, but the Director of NIAID is not a presidential appointment. I’m pretty sure that position is appointed by the NIH Director. That position is a presidential appointment, so trump can certainly tell Frances Collins to fire Fauci, but I have personally seen Frances Collins stand up to political crap and I strongly suspect Collins wouldn’t do it. Even if trump could get some to boot Fauci from the NIAID position, I’m almost positive that Fauci has civil service protections and would not loose his government employment or salary. And as you mention, none of that would negate Fauci’s expertise or the press’s interest in it.
J R in WV
Hope and statistically sound epidemiological data are two different things. Forgive me but I want my health protected by those scientific predictions based upon statistically sound epidemiological data.
I took statistics in college, yea those many years ago and made Bs, which means I did not really understand what I was trying to learn, but I know the difference between Dunning-Kreuger 19 bullshit — like what you are spouting — and scientifically sound medical advice. If I were J G Cole I would ban you for spouting this nonsense beloved by business and Republican politicians.
We did not take the same measures China did to squelch their epidemic, not even close. I guess you didn’t see stupid infectious college (so sad) spring break kids cavorting together in bars and on beaches on the news, while responsible people begged them to cancel those trips. Now they have gone home, since their colleges are closed because they know to follow medical advice, and are spreading the Trump Virus among their family and friends back home, because their stupidity won’t be cured by being sent home like the trouble makers they are.
I hope no dies because of their stupidity! But I expect many thousands, tens of thousands or more actually to die as a direct result of their ignorant, rash, stupid actions. And I will blame them. If they are able to speak, I hope Medical staff ask them about travel, that they tell them the truth, and we wind up with real data about how many hospitalizations and deaths their stupidity caused. But I expect and predict that 98% of them will lie about their travel history — they are just that stupid/ignorant !!! Never before faced with consequences they can not avoid.
I won’t be reading many more of your inane comments, welcome to the pie safe! I will ask you to think about your comment, think about the danger to your family and friends, and to shut up about ending the quarantine early — I hope it will last until the number of cases drops a whole lot.
@Percysowner: Everything good and correct that he is doing comes from the knowledge and instruction that he receives from Dr. Amy Acton. It’s her, not him, who is behind Ohio’s coordinated, assertive response.
Except for the pro-lifer sham bans. That’s all DeWine.
Seconded. Y’all really are a Godsend.
@Exregis: Another Regis guy here. I graduated a decade after Fauci, and I’m in the old-enough-to-be-extra-virus-susceptible group. It’s heroic that he’s putting in the hours and superhuman effort required to work around the toddler/saboteur-in-chief, but I do worry he’s one day going to just keel over. There’s a guy who deserves a presidential Medal of Freedom.
@bemused: I get mine for free, at my local public library, through the website. It’s something to look into, I get to read what I like with the satisfaction of knowing they’re not getting my $$
I find it very interesting that Trump considers calls for needed help, criticism of making the same errors Trump condemns China for, advocacy for effective measures, and reporting the numbers of Covid-19 victims to be “hatred of me”.
It is only a matter of days before Dr. Fauci becomes a “never-Trumper” out to get the president. Just wait for it.
No, you can just browse the NYT site. Free articles are visible, and you get a notice for ones behind the paywall. All of the coronavirus coverage is free now, I believe.
Most people use //, but your intent was clear. No excuse for “steel for building,” though.
I’m not sure of this admiration of Fauci, or what seems like “thank FSM Fauci is there on the stage”.
I think he’s only legitimizing Trump’s lies, insults and racist scapegoating.
And then Fauci said this:
No, dammit, Trump doesn’t! He never has and he never will. He does not listen to advice, especially expert advice as he is especially contemptuous of those who know more than he does.
Trump seeks affirmation not information. What looks like him listening to sound advice is him looking for anything he can use to help him deflect blame and improve his re-election numbers. It’s only incidental convergence.
We know this. How come a smart guy like Fauci doesn’t know this?
Trump has a unique ability to make people, even otherwise intelligent people, hear what they want to hear.
Remember the Dignity Wraith thing? How many White House staffers whose past experience and reputation we hoped would surely be “the adult in the room”, and then they end up damaging their own credibility? Too many to even count. So many that “Dignity Wraith” had to be invented.
Fauci by not forcefully contradicting Trump’s lies right there on the stage has given them the tacit approval of a medical expert. Fauci has been co-opted.
Fauci couldn’t even make a stand on modeling physical distancing. Does Fauci really think this is not a substantive issue? Everyone sees this contradiction and thinks, “Why is this so important for us to do when you don’t?” Why, indeed.
Fauci isn’t influencing Trump as much as he is providing legitimacy to Trump’s dangerous lies.
Absolutely. It’s what I was trying to say in my earlier comment, but in far fewer words.