Debunk, if possible: Trump is fine, Fauci also downplayed CV into March

I see that the current conservative argument being made even in the Washington Post is that quotes from Dr. Fauci show that he was saying that the USA had little to fear from CV, and we’d done enough, and it was going to be a minor problem. This means that Trump was saying what the health department was saying, and this whole Woodward quote scandal is basically media bias.

I understand the point of quoting Trump saying that he basically knew it was something bad, but also, Trump can’t admit he didn’t know something that someone else did, so it’s conceivable to me that he was lying even about that. I have big personal opinions on Trump, but I refuse to deny a good point when it’s made.


The claim that Fauci had been saying there was nothing to fear has been around for a while now and Snopes debunked much of it back in April.

In short it takes comments out of the contexts they were made.

The bigger point is that there is a difference between Fauci stating an honest assessment that the risk was real but should be able to be responded to in ways that contain it (and no question that it could have been responded to in ways that contained it and limited it much better, that it took major Trumpian effort to screw it up this bad), and intentionally claiming that it is going to magically go away “poof” with full knowledge of the danger.

If Trump was advised that the corona virus was not a big threat, that would mean he lied to Bob Woodward when he said that it was serious. Why on earth would a president tell a lie like that to a reporter? The only thing I can think of is that he was setting up Woodward to print a false story. That casts all of his cries of “fake news” in a different light, doesn’t it? I mean, if the press is just reporting what the administration tells them, it’s hard to blame them if their reports are (as Donald keeps insisting) not true. In fact, I think Trump owes Woodward a hearty “well done” for seeing through his ruse and not printing a story that would panic the public and make the president look bad.

How about you, OP, why do you think Trump lied to Bob Woodward?

Woodward has a recording of the president saying that. There is no “fake news” that Woodward claims the president said something he didn’t.

Simple as that.

AFAIAC this shows that the current occupant of the Oval Office is, in fact, a murderer, a mass murder at that.

The WaPo article cited by OP in Post #3 is by Marc Thiessen, WaPo’s token Trump apologist boot-licker. 'Nuff said?

The writer is positing Fauci’s statements as lies. With the exception of the mask thing, they weren’t. The mask thing was a bad mistake by Fauci and he since owned up to it.

Trump on the other hand, has lied and gaslit the whole way through. Anything he did that was a good idea as far as virus containment was motivated by something else.

And while certain segments of the government have been allowed to function properly and publish guidance on the basis of best-practices-we-know-as-of-now, Trump himself has always contradicted it, and it has been increasingly corrupted as time has gone on.

Fauci was guilty early on of the same thing every other reasonable person who worked with Trump has been - thinking that the correct course of action was obvious and would be followed and that his presence would help limit the damage in the meantime. Once it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, he got bolder which is more than you can say about a lot of other people.

In the hypothetical that Fauci actually did lie, what does that prove? It’s wrong for Trump to lie about a public health crisis regardless of whether one of his experts did also. It’s also not media bias to scrutinize the most powerful elected official in the world more closely than a careerist at the NIH.

I think you misunderstood my argument.

Currently, Trump is in trouble because it appears he lied during the early days of the pandemic by saying that it was no big deal. The thesis put forth by the OP is that, at the time, Trump was being told by his advisors (such as Dr. Fauci) that it was no big deal, and he conveyed that to the American people. Therefore, Trump didn’t lie.

So, let’s follow that premise and see where it leads us. If Trump was told, and believed that the virus was no big deal, then he was lying to Bob Woodward when he said it was deadly. Why would the president tell that lie? What does it tell us about Trump’s relationship with the press that he would set up a prominent journalist with false information about the biggest story of the decade?

Based on what the President knew back in February and March, Trump must have lied, one way or the other. His apologists are trying to spin away one lie to make Trump look better. I’m saying that, if they’re right, then the other lie is just as irresponsible and damning.

Good to know, but not nuff. The OP wanted it debunked, not ad hominemed.

Let’s look at trump’s spin that he was downplaying the virus to not cause panic. And let’s say Fauci was doing the same.

What would a responsible leader do if he knew a virus was deadly but downplayed it to not cause panic (setting aside the fact that responsible leaders seldom hide difficult truths from their people)? He’d say, just to be on the safe side, to protect those among us who are older or may have preexisting conditions, let’s all do our part to safe distance, wear masks, and do whatever the experts recommend to mitigate the virus. What Fauci has done, in other words.

He wouldn’t ridicule mask wearing, turning it into a culture war issue; encourage non-socially distanced rallies (got to pack in the few who showed up all together to make it look crowded); lobby relentlessly to have people go back to work and to school; do nothing on a national level to fight the virus, leaving it up to the governors, then attackiong Democratic governors for making sensible choices and threatening to defund their states; In short, everything trump has said and done has resulted in the spread of the virus, because his main focus is on his own self interest, primarily propping up the economy until the election.

No sane, rational person should need that ridiculous claim debunked, it’s transparently, embarrassingly false on the face of it.

I do think Fauci should have slammed his message home much harder in February in no uncertain terms. Many Americans, including Trump, are prone to dangerous cultural optimism - believing what they want to believe, that ‘everything’s going to be okay’ - and won’t take something seriously unless it is told to them extremely sharply and ominously. You have to express something 2x seriously in order for them to take it 1x seriously.

Consider the difference in what was quoted. Fauci in January, well before serious community spread in the US, was saying that it could be contained. Not that the virus wasn’t dangerous, but that it could have a similar spread to SARS, and that as long as the experts and leaders took appropriate steps we could keep the virus from becoming an epidemic here. But, the clear implication is that we need to act to do so.

Trump, at the same time, was telling Woodward exactly how dangerous the virus was IF it did spread. That it was way worse than the flu and that it is more contagious. Trump and Fauci were saying different things here, things that can both be true, and Fauci is regrettably following the direction of Trump to avoid causing a panic by saying we can contain it and that the China ban would help (it didn’t).

Trump, then spent the next 3+ months, standing in front of the press saying the exact opposite of what he knew to be true. Of taking active steps to counteract the recommendations of Fauci and the rest of the medical community. Encouraging his asshole supporters to flout the recommendations and that people taking precautions are pussies.

These two things are not comparable and it should be so patently obvious that the op-ed quoted is a total fucking lie. What did Fauci do wrong…1) he downplayed the risk of spread in January, which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but in retrospect didn’t help and was in line with the WH’s strategy, 2) he said widespread mask wearing isn’t necessary, which also was probably counterproductive but reasonable when you consider the massive shortage we had due to idiotic planning and the shipment of PPE to China by the WH early on, and 3) he allowed the assumption that the WH wasn’t wildly incompetent and assumed that we’d take the common sense steps to prevent spread and wouldn’t politicize it like we had for past novel infections.

Let’s parse the Fauci statements, taken out of context in the op-ed by the way, and see what was said.
Jan 26th: “I don’t think so. The American people should not be worried or frightened by this. It’s a very, very low risk to the United States, but it’s something that we, as public health officials, need to take very seriously.”
At the time, this was accurate and the last point is the critical one…medical professionals need to be taking steps to prevent this with support of the government. It’s very dangerous, we need to prevent spread, but little did Fauci know that the administrator was going to step on it’s tiny mushroom dick.

Feb 28-29th: “It could be really, really bad, I don’t think it’s gonna be, because I think we’d be able to do the kind of mitigation. It could be mild.”; “Right now, at this moment, there is no need to change anything that you’re doing on a day-by-day basis. Right now the risk is still low, but this could change. … I mean, this could be a major outbreak. I hope not.”
Again…the virus is not known to be widespread in the US yet. But it could be a catastrophe if proper steps aren’t taken. Little did he know that steps would not just be not taken, but would be actively undermined.

So, Fauci didn’t lie, not once. He failed in 2 regards. He trusted the administration and our institutions’ capabilities to respond effectively and uniformly with the support of the American people before it became a problem. He made statements were intended to keep people calm, when they shouldn’t have been calm, based on the lack of evidence of broad community spread…when it was just that, a lack of evidence, not a lack of spread. At no point did he say this wasn’t a dangerous virus and at no point did he say there wasn’t a major risk IF we didn’t contain it.

Trump on the otherhand, outright lied repeatedly about the virus and the risk if you are infected. He ENCOURAGED people to ignore recommendations. He gave away PPE and didn’t produce it when we learned it was needed. He shit talked the CDC, NIAI, NIH and WHO. He promised that it would disappear, that it was a mild flu, tried to obscure the number of infected. And he continued to do this into fucking June. And we know that Trump knew better, that he had the info from Fauci and others.

I see I somewhat misunderstood the argument of the OP-- that trump was simply following the lead of Fauci and other infectious disease experts in downplaying the seriousness of the disease.

But my basic point remains-- whether Fauci et al were intentionally downplaying or not understanding the seriousness of the virus to begin with, trump’s subsequent words and actions were in marked contrast to Fauci’s. trump was clearly not following Fauci’s lead. Or, he would halfheartedly pay lip service to Fauci’s and other expert’s recommendations at the initial CV briefings, then immediately say the opposite on twitter or at his hate rallies.

That’s my biggest beef with the argument. Of course Trump should not have misled the American people for so many months when he knew how dangerous and deadly the virus was, but for many of us who knew how unreliable the president is, we looked to the experts for real guidance. If Trump knew on February 7th that the virus was aerosolized, then Fauci surely knew the same. Making that logical conclusion, his comment in March about masks being unnecessary for the general public seems amazingly negligent and almost as reprehensible as Trump’s lies.

The reporting that I’ve read indicates that the dissuasion of mask-wearing was a deliberate strategy for addressing the PPE shortage. This was discussed in several of the emails released by whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright, who wanted to ramp up the acquisition of PPE back in January - efforts that were rejected.
I’m paraphrasing, but the outcome of this discussion was “We’ll tell the general public not to buy or use masks so that there will be enough for the medical professionals”.
So I would hesitate to blame any individual for this astoundingly bad public policy position. Except for the guy at the top, who was unable or unwilling to mobilize the vast resources of the US government, choosing to deal instead with a small group of cronies that were completely incapable of anything but creating confusion.

Do we know that the mask policy was bad? It seems to me that more people buying up masks would have made things worse since more doctors would have not had the PPE they needed. So do we have direct evidence that it made things worse?

Note, I’m not talking about the way the policy was communicated. I agree that it was confusing, and can see it as part of the reason people were able to believe that masks were bad. I know I had to dive pretty deep to find out why we weren’t supposed to wear masks, and even then I found two ideas: the one about the shortage, and also one about people with masks not being careful enough. It wasn’t until they told us to make homemade masks (after studies showed they were at least partially effective) that I was sure it was about the shortage.

That said, I will note that one doctor on YouTube, who has worked the front lines with COVID-19, has said that he’s concerned that people are getting too focused on masks and forgetting the other stuff that we’re supposed to do to stay safe.

It’s always been a second order thing. The other stuff, the stuff Fauci did tell us, is the first order defense. Social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face, and so on–all of that is the most important. Masks were only for when social distancing is not possible.

Granted, maybe this is just because we’ve internalized it all now. That at least works for washing hands and not touching our faces. But I do notice a lot of photos of people in masks standing closer together than they would need to.

Of course, there’s also the dynamic that if Dr. Fauci was too forceful in his contradictions with Dear Leader, then the good doctor would quickly find himself with no podium and no employment.

How effective would his message be then?