It wasn’t long before two scientists at former President Donald Trump’s failed response to the coronavirus talked about how dysfunctional efforts to curb the 45th president’s pandemic really were.
In the first weekend after Trump left the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birks – both members of the Trump White House Coronavirus Task Force, coordinated by Birx – conducted interviews with national media describing culture. in Trump’s White House, which rejected scientific expertise and favored the type of denial that led to Trump continuing to hold crowded political rallies, even as deaths and coronavirus cases jumped in the fall.
“We would say things like, ̵
Birks made similar comments to CBS during an interview with Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan, saying, “there were people [in the White House] who definitely believed it was a scam, ”and added that Trump tends to listen to people who tell him what he wants to hear, even if that information has no scientific basis.
“I saw the president present graphics that I never made,” she said. “So I know that someone – someone there or someone inside – was creating a parallel set of data and graphs that were shown to the president. To this day, I do not know who, but I know what I sent and I know what was in his hands is different from that. “
“I saw the president present graphs that I never made. So I know that someone … was creating a parallel set of data and graphs that were shown to the president. To this day, I don’t know who.” – Dr. Birx pic.twitter.com/ql811iB8WG
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 24, 2021
Fauci confirmed this by telling the Times that in the early days of the pandemic, he was “really concerned” to notice that Trump “got information from people who called him, I don’t know who, people he knew business from.” saying, “Hey, I heard about this medicine, isn’t it great?” or “Boy, this restorative plasma is really phenomenal.”
“He would take their opinion just as seriously – based on no data, just an anecdote – that something could really be important,” Fauci added. “It wasn’t just hydroxychloroquine, it was a variety of alternative medicine approaches. It was always, “A man called me, my friend from blah, blah, blah.” Then my anxiety began to escalate. “
Birks’ signal is an attempt to restore her damaged reputation
Birks emerged from the Trump era with a more ragged reputation than Fossie. As they both struggled to avoid public controversy with the president, Birks’ propensity to praise Trump, even as he advertised unproven miracle drugs and downplayed the severity of a pandemic that killed 400,000 Americans before leaving office, seemed to she put politics first.
“[Trump is] so attentive to the scientific literature & the details & the data. I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit. ”- These are shocking, hacking things from Dr. Birks. pic.twitter.com/c2phsRYaJs
– Aaron Rupar (Atrupar) March 27, 2020
Fauci does not share this trend. He refused to humiliate Trump, even if he was given a chance, but often opposed the former president in public.
Unlike Fauzi, who now serves as a medical adviser to President Joe Biden, in addition to his role as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Birks was not asked to join the Biden administration. This made her interview with CBS seem partly an attempt to restore her image before her impending retirement from the federal government.
Birks became emotional when she talked about her legacy and how she might be tarnished by her time coordinating the Trump White House coronavirus task force. She tried to regain the perception that she was sometimes more concerned with staying at the mercy of Trump — something Fawzi didn’t seem to care about — than catching up with the American people.
Asked about a scandalous incident during a press conference in which Trump suggested that disinfection injections or sunlight treatments could be miraculous cures for the coronavirus, Birks tried to minimize his role.
“I didn’t even know what to do at that moment,” she said, adding later, “Then people want to define you by the moment.”
WATCH: Birks reacts to allegations that she became Trump’s “apologist” and * that * moment when the former president offered to use a disinfectant as a potential treatment for # COVID19
“I wasn’t prepared for that. I didn’t even know what to do at that moment.” pic.twitter.com/2ddCblGllH
– Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 24, 2021
However, this was far from the only time Birks failed to correct the bad information Trump was giving to the public. There have been numerous cases in which she appears to have avoided interfering with bad decisions made by Trump, ranging from defending his refusal to wear a mask to forcing the CDC to rule out alleged positives from the number of coronavirus deaths. She told CBS that she was constantly considering resigning, but said she was not doing so because she believed she could do more good than the domestic government. Eventually, she came to the conclusion “just before the election” that “I got nowhere.”
In an interview, Birks said Trump “assessed the seriousness” of the pandemic in March and April, only to lose focus as the country “began to open up” and election day approached. While journalist Bob Woodward’s report in September revealed that Trump quickly realized that the coronavirus posed a serious threat, Birks’ claim ignored that Trump did not share these private beliefs with the American people.
Instead, he spent the earliest months of the pandemic, saying the coronavirus would disappear on its own “as a miracle” and rejected Democrats’ efforts to take it more seriously as a “scam.” Fauci’s interview with the New York Times sheds light on how Birx’s account is revising history.
Fauci’s interview highlights Trump’s main unfitness
While Birx looked as if Trump’s reaction to the coronavirus had begun strong, Fauci’s interview with the Times painted a picture of a president who was unable to respond competently to a pandemic – and who had been involved in magical thinking from the beginning.
“I would try to express the seriousness of the situation, and the president’s response has always been to ‘Well, it’s not that bad, is it?’ “And I would say, ‘Yes, it’s so bad,'” Fautsi said. “It was almost a reflexive response, trying to keep you to a minimum. Not saying, “I want you to minimize it,” but “Oh, was it really that bad?”
These comments reflect Fauci’s statements last Thursday during his first public comments as Biden’s adviser, when he described Trump’s departure as a breath of fresh air.
“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, “Fautsi told a news briefing last Thursday, adding at another point that Trump’s advertising of unproven and potentially dangerous” miracle cures “for the coronavirus was particularly” uncomfortable “for him. they were not based on scientific fact. “
REPORTER: You have joked several times about the difference between the Trump and Biden administrations. Do you feel less stiff?
FAUCI: You said I was joking about that. I was very serious. I wasn’t kidding. pic.twitter.com/nyH4ow1zVj
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 21, 2021
While Fauzi tried to avoid directly condemning Trump in public, he did contradict his false claims that Covid-19 was as deadly as the flu and tried to correct the record when Trump promoted unproven treatments such as possible coronavirus treatment. He told the New York Times that even before Trump considered firing him at one of his campaign rallies, he had received death threats – and in one case, a letter containing dust.
“One day I received a letter in the mail, I opened it and the face and chest smelled of dust,” he said.
“It was very, very disturbing for me and my wife because she was in my office,” he continued, adding that fortunately the substance turned out to be “benign.”
At one point, Fauci expressed sympathy for Birx because she had to deal with Scott Atlas on a daily basis, a neuroradiologist without prior expertise on infectious diseases, whom Trump brought into the White House as a coronavirus adviser. Atlas was a supporter of the discredited idea that the federal government should allow the coronavirus to infect as many people as possible.
“I tried to get closer [Atlas] and say, “Let’s sit down and talk, because we obviously have some differences,” Fautsi told the Times. “His attitude was that he was reviewing the literature intensively, we may have differences, but he thinks he’s right. I thought, “Okay, okay, I’m not going to invest much time trying to turn this man around,” and I just went my own way. But Debbie Birks had to live with this man in the White House every day, so it was a much more painful situation for her. “
Atlas’ reluctance to hear anything he didn’t want to hear was a characteristic he shared with Trump, who did his best to ignore his own advice to the CDC about gathering, holding over-distribution rallies during his failed campaign for re-election, even when scientific experts warned that the United States was heading for a winter in which deaths and deaths would jump. Trump ended up in hospital in early October after contracting the virus, but even that experience didn’t make him.
As Fauci told the Times:
When [Trump] he was in Walter Reed [hospital] and he was getting monoclonal antibodies, he said, “Tony, that really made a big difference. I feel much, much better. These are really good things. “I didn’t want to burst his balloon, but I said, ‘Well, no, that’s N, equal to 1. Maybe you’re starting to feel better anyway.’ [In scientific literature, an experiment with just one subject is described as “n = 1.”] And he said, “Oh, no, no, no, absolutely not. These things are really good. He just turned me completely. “So I thought the best part of valor would be not arguing with him.
None of this is surprising – but it’s still remarkable
What Birx and Fauci said in their interviews is not necessarily surprising. We have long learned that Trump’s White House response to the disaster is a disaster, especially compared to countries like Australia and Japan, which have done a much better job of curbing infections and deaths. We know that Trump tends to engage in desirable thinking and has an aversion to scientific reasoning.
But what illustrates the willingness of Birks and Fauci to speak immediately after Trump leaves office is how bad things were under the previous administration. Now the Biden administration is trying to clear up the mess left behind by a year of politically motivated short-term thinking in which public health experts like Fauci and Birks had to contend daily with questions about whether it was worthwhile for them to keep coming to work.