Thousands of emails to and from Dr. Anthony Fauci have become public through a FOIA request by the Washington Post. Reaction to the emails has generally been partisan: Democrats have hailed them as validating their view of Fauci as a secular saint, while conservatives have found confirmation of their suspicions of the life-long bureaucrat, who went to work for the NIH during the Nixon administration and has been rising through the bureaucracy, as opposed to treating patients, ever since.
I haven’t yet had time to read the emails, and you can’t competently comment on them until you have read them. That rules out the large majority of what you will see online. If you want to read them for yourself and draw your own conclusions, they are here. Despite that caution, here are some thoughts.
Yahoo News, a pro-Democrat outlet, headlines: “What conservatives see in the Fauci emails.” But the story, while modest, is relatively fair.
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s emails, released through a Freedom of Information Act request, are a Rorschach test. To Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), they revealed the nation’s top infectious expert — and his frequent sparring partner — to be a liar. “Told you,” Paul said. “Can’t wait to see the media try to spin the Fauci FOIA emails.”
On cue, CNN tweeted, “Thousands of emails from and to Dr. Fauci reveal the weight that came from his role as a rare source of frank honesty within the Trump administration’s COVID-19 task force.” That’s not how most conservatives view the email exchanges about masks or theories about the virus’ origins. Where liberals see a beleaguered official, conservatives see in the emails private counsel that is more equivocal than Fauci’s public pronouncements, when not diametrically opposed.
A good example of how some conservatives see the Fauci emails comes from Legal Insurrection.
What are the flash points of controversy? So far, I have seen at least two. One is the fact that Fauci’s emails show that the possible origin of the Wuhan virus in the CCP’s virology lab has been on the radar from the beginning, with some scientists suggesting that the virus’s DNA is most consistent with a laboratory origin.
I have not seen a Fauci email that takes a position on how the Wuhan virus arose. If he ever wrote that he thought that the virus came from a Chinese lab–a lab that he himself helped to finance!–that would be a bombshell. But I haven’t seen such an email, and my guess is that Fauci is too much the bureaucrat to commit himself on that question, especially given the friendly relationship with Chinese scientists documented in these communications.
We can say, though, that Fauci stood by while Republicans like Tom Cotton and Donald Trump were being excoriated in the press for saying that a possible link to the Wuhan Institute of Virology should be investigated. As best I can recall, Fauci said nothing in their defense and kept the intimations he received from others to himself. Knowing that the virus’s origin was a legitimate question, if Fauci was silent his conduct was consistent with loyalty to the Democratic Party, and not consistent with his duties as a public servant.
The second controversy of which I am aware relates to Fauci’s statements that masks are useless to combat covid-19. But this is no surprise. The emails that were just released date to February and March of 2020. At that time, CDC’s official position was that masks were of no use. Later, for whatever reason, CDC changed its mind. But statements by Fauci consistent with the earlier guidance are not news. I personally think that CDC’s original guidance was closer to the truth, but its 180 degree reversal has long been part of the public record.
More will emerge in due course, and if I have time to read the Fauci emails I will report further on what I find. But for now, this is how it looks to me.