As Birx, Fauci Reflect On Trump, Some Seem Unsatisfied

If you’re inclined to hand-wringing about the virus and what could have been, so to speak, there was disconcerting news Sunday out of the US.

Most notably, Deborah Birx suggested during an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Donald Trump wittingly showed Americans charts that were based on questionable datasets.

“I saw the president presenting graphs that I never made,” Birx told Margaret Brennan. “So, I know that someone out there or someone inside was creating a parallel set of data and graphics that were shown to the president,” she went on to muse. “I know what I sent up and I know that what was in his hands was different from that. You can’t do that. You have to use the entire database–”

I could quote it at length, but you get the point. It’s not good.

Asked by Brennan who might have provided Trump with alternative COVID figures, Birx said that while she still doesn’t know the whole story, “certainly Scott Atlas brought in parallel data.”

Atlas, you’ll recall, appeared on Russian state television just days before the election to deride lockdowns and implicitly criticize Anthony Fauci.

America’s public health experts are “killing people with their fear-inducing shutdown policies,” Atlas told RT which, again, is Russian state television. It was a surreal spectacle: A US government official charged with protecting the public from a deadly epidemic appearing on a Kremlin-backed news channel to criticize America’s scientific community just three days before an election that national security officials said Russia had been tampering with for months.

As I pointed out at the time, this is relevant for market participants, and not just because of COVID. Posts on RT (and Sputnik) are retweeted and otherwise shared by folks in the finance community. Those two outlets sometimes parrot and quote from ostensible finance portals based in the US, in what appears to be a kind of self-referential echo chamber. When you see that, just remember: RT and Sputnik are Kremlin-controlled entities. That’s not a theory, it’s a fact.

After his cameo on RT, Atlas apologized. “I was unaware they are a registered foreign agent,” he shrugged.

In addition to Birx’s chat with CBS, Fauci gave an hour-long interview to The New York Times over the weekend. It was chock-full of what might fairly be described as disconcerting passages, including (but by no means limited to) the following selected excerpts:

NYT: When did you first realize things were going wrong between you and President Trump?

Fauci: [One] thing that made me really concerned was, it was clear that [Trump] was getting input from people who were calling him up, I don’t know who, people he knew from business, saying, Hey, I heard about this drug, isn’t it great?”

He would take just as seriously their opinion, based on no data, just anecdote, that something might really be important. It wasn’t just hydroxychloroquine, it was a variety of alternative-medicine-type approaches. It was always, “A guy called me up, a friend of mine from blah, blah, blah.” That’s when my anxiety started to escalate.

NYT: Did anyone close to Mr. Trump ever say, “We were wrong, you were right”?

Fauci: No. No.

NYT: Even after he got so sick that he had to be flown to Walter Reed hospital?

Fauci: No.

NYT: Did the president ever ask you for medical advice?

Fauci: No.

NYT: Do you think Donald Trump cost the country tens or hundreds of thousands of lives?

Fauci: I can’t comment on that. People always ask that and making the direct connection that way, it becomes very damning. I just want to stay away from that. Sorry.

I would highly recommend reading the entire interview. It’s not comforting.

What’s perhaps most unnerving of all, though, is that while Fauci did contradict Trump on any number of occasions, and while Birx can’t necessarily be accused of “lying” to anybody, neither came out forcefully to tell the public the simple truth which, at best (and I emphasize at best) was this: You cannot trust the information about COVID coming from the White House.

It’s true that Fauci was under tremendous strain. In the interview with the Times, he detailed death threats and what sounded like a fake anthrax attack, for example. For her part, Birx may well have feared that leaving the administration could have made things worse.

Still, I think the assumption among Americans (even subconsciously among Trump’s most ardent supporters) is that if someone like Fauci or Birx becomes aware of a situation so dangerous that the entire country is at risk of severe illness (or worse), they will simply go to the press and spell it out in terms that admit of no ambiguity.

The Times‘s own Maggie Haberman alluded to that on Sunday. “Lots of reporters tried to talk to Birx while she was there. She was not interested,” Haberman reminded the nation. “Given the rationales defenders of Birx and Fauci offered for their public statements being that they thought it was better for them to stay inside the government, it would be good for an interviewer to ask them what are concrete examples where their staying made a difference.”

On Sunday afternoon, Reuters said Joe Biden was poised to ban travel from South Africa due to the new COVID variant in the country.


Speak your mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 thoughts on “As Birx, Fauci Reflect On Trump, Some Seem Unsatisfied

  1. Well, you have to walk a fine line when you’re “trying to change the system from within.” Fauci was critical of Trump in numerous interviews, but was too popular to fire. On the other hand, Birx went WAY over that line, IMHO: “[Trump’s] been so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data,” Birx said. “I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit during these discussions about medical issues.” After Biden won she “retired” and is on her rehabilitation tour. I forget, which circle of Hell do folks like this end up in?

  2. Either the 8th circle (Fraud and non-malevolent betrayal) or 9th ( Intentional Betrayal and Treachery). Either way it involves willing deception of society for personal convenience.

  3. Everything Trump touches turns to sh-t. Birx ruined her career reputaton. Fauci escaped with his reputation intact but somewhat tarnished.

  4. I am doubtful any good would’ve come out of them making this public earlier. It was apparent to anyone reading legitimate news that Trump wasn’t following the data and that the public shouldn’t trust what he was saying. When Trump briefly realized that he needed to appear to care (for about two weeks in October), I’m glad that there were experts available. Fauci could’ve become an MSNBC darling six months ago by speaking out, except he already was one.

  5. Two things are clear; 1) The US did a terrible job of dealing with the virus, 2) the buck stops with Trump. Fauci and Birx were soldiers trying to do their jobs during a global ‘war’. We can only speculate what their hourly life was life in a completely disfunctional command center. Least we forget, these people have dedicated their careers to saving lives. Who is qualified to judge them? Who is qualified to judge a soldier in the heat of battle without having been there. Anybody who was paying attention could see Fauci did not agree with the Administration’s virus response.

  6. Right is Might – Trump does not understand this concept.

    Trump also did not understand that many upper level people who worked in the government were there because of a higher personal calling they felt to give back, help and serve our great country.

    Not to serve Trump, or for that matter, any individual or political party.

NEWSROOM crewneck & prints