Dr. Anthony Fauci says that he was muzzled by the Trump administration which ‘blocked’ him from appearing on the left-leaning MSNBC cable news channel and its marquee primetime star Rachel Maddow.
The 80-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told Maddow, who made repeated attempts to book him on her program during the course of the pandemic, that he wanted to appear on her show ‘for months.’
Fauci was asked by Maddow on Friday if the press and the public would hear more regularly from him as well as other government experts who are guiding the nation’s leaders through a once-in-a-century pandemic.
‘I’ve been wanting to come on your show for months and months,’ Fauci told Maddow.
‘You’ve been asking me to come on your show for months and months.
Dr. Anthony Fauci (right), the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (left) on Friday that he wanted to appear on her show ‘for months’ but was ‘blocked’ from doing so by officials in the Trump administration
‘It just got blocked because they didn’t like the way you handle things and they didn’t want me on,’ Fauci told Maddow, a fierce critic of former President Donald Trump (seen above in Harlingen, Texas, on January 12)
‘And it’s just gotten blocked. Let’s call it what it is.
‘It just got blocked because they didn’t like the way you handle things and they didn’t want me on.’
Fauci told Maddow that Trump administration officials were perplexed when he told them he wanted to appear on her show.
‘When they sat down, “Why would you want to go on Rachel Maddow’s show?”,’ Fauci said he was asked.
During an appearance in the White House briefing room on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci made it clear he’s happy to be working for President Joe Biden
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, let loose in his first appearance in the White House briefing room in months
‘Well, because I like her and she’s really good,’ Fauci says he told administration officials.
Under President Joe Biden, Fauci says he and other public health experts will be far more accessible.
‘I think you’re going to see a lot of transparency,’ he said.
‘You might not see everybody as often as you want but you’re not going to see deliberate holding back of good people when the press asks for them.’
Fauci added: ‘It was a tough situation, it really was.’
Fauci’s comments to Maddow echoed similar remarks made by his then-colleague on the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx.
Birx has claimed she was ‘censored’ by the White House and ‘always’ considered quitting the task force – but she stayed in the role anyway.
She told CBS Face The Nation she asked herself every morning and night if she could make a difference to tackling the pandemic that has so far left more than 400,000 Americans dead.
‘I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that every day?’ she said in a clip from the full interview set to air Sunday.
‘I had to ask myself every morning, is there something that I think I can do that would be helpful in responding to this pandemic and it’s something I asked myself every night.’
Birx said many close colleagues she had worked with during her long career before the White House started questioning whether she had become too political.
Fauci made his first appearance at President Joe Biden’s side on Thursday at an event on new executive orders tied to the coronavirus pandemic
Fauci talked about the strain he felt giving briefings under President Trump such as this briefing in April 2020
Fauci’s face palm moment in March went viral
‘Colleagues of mine that I had known for decades… decades in that one experience, because I was in the White House, decided that I had become this political person, even though they had known me forever,’ she said.
She admitted she was aware in the lead-up to the presidential election that the White House race had become a factor in what and how much was being communicated to the public about the deadly virus.
But while she claimed she was ‘censored’ by the White House, Birx denied ever having withheld information on the pandemic herself.
Since Biden was sworn into office, Fauci has described how he feels ‘liberated.’
During an appearance in the White House briefing room on Thursday – the first time he spoke there since last spring – Fauci revealed his true feelings about Trump.
He didn’t mention the former president by name but he was clear about the differences of work life in the Biden administration versus that under Trump’s.
‘One of the new things in this administration is: if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Just say you don’t know the answer,’ he said, comparing his first few days working for Biden to his months of counseling Trump on the coronavirus pandemic.
‘One of the things that was very clear as recently as about 15 minutes ago, when I was with the president, is that one of the things that we’re going to do is to be completely transparent open and honest if things go wrong.
‘Not point fingers but to correct them and to make everything we do be based on science and evidence. I mean that was literally a conversation I had 15 minutes ago with the president, and he has said that multiple times,’ he noted.
Given his new, free-speaking style, he was asked if there was anything he wanted to clarify or amend that he said during the Trump administration.
‘No, I mean I always said everything,’ Fauci said. ‘That’s why I got trouble sometimes.’
He made it clear he was not joking.
‘I was very serious about it, I wasn’t joking,’ said Fauci, who also serves as chief medical adviser to Biden, when asked about his comments.
Fauci had a contentious relationship with Trump in the president’s final months in office.
Fauci’s comments to Maddow echoed similar remarks made by his then-colleague on the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Deborah Birx. Birx has claimed she was ‘censored’ by the White House and ‘always’ considered quitting the task force – but she stayed in the role anyway
Birx and Donald Trump during a White House press briefing in March. Birx, who served as the White House coronavirus task force co-ordinator under Trump, told CBS Face The Nation she asked herself every morning and night if she could make a difference to tackling the pandemic
Trump wanted to focus on reopening the economy as Fauci and other medical experts wanted to keep stronger restrictions in place to keep the COVID virus from spreading.
And there was the famous face-palm moment.
In March, as Fauci stood behind Trump at the podium in the briefing room, the doctor appeared to chuckle to himself before covering his face with his palm as Trump railed against ‘the Deep State Department.’
Fauci was sidelined by the Trump White House, rarely appearing in press briefings and kept from doing interviews with major news outlets.
He spread his message about COVID through local news interviews and podcasts.
Trump made his displeasure with Fauci known. He called him a Democrat and publicly mulled firing him although that would have been difficult as Fauci is a career federal employee.
Fauci had to have a security detail due to death threats against him and his family.
In reflecting on his relationship with Trump, Fauci noted on Thursday he took no joy in contradicting the former commander in chief.
‘It was very clear that they were things that were said, regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that. That really was an uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact, I can tell you I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president,’ he said.
Trump took a dose of hydroxy in an effort to ward off the coronavirus – a practice many experts expressed doubt about. Trump ultimately got the virus and recovered.
Fauci noted the strain he felt talking about the pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans, while working under Trump.
‘You didn’t feel like you could say something and there wouldn’t be repercussions,’ he said.
Of the new administration’s stance toward him, Fauci said: ‘It is somewhat of a liberating feeling.’
‘The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence — what the science is, and know that’s it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling,’ Fauci noted.
But he did reject a claim that the Biden administration were ‘starting from scratch’ with vaccine distribution which had been reported earlier Thursday by CNN.
‘No, I mean we’re coming in with fresh ideas, but also some ideas with the, with the previous administration, you can’t say it was absolutely not usable at all,’ he said.
‘So, we are continuing but you’re going to see a real ramping up of it.’
Fauci made his first appearance at Biden’s side on Thursday, when the president called for the nation to summon a ‘full scale war-time effort’ to beat back the coronavirus.