The cues from right-wing media, as split as they are, could influence how much Trump listens to his infectious disease expert in the coming weeks.
The far-right’s most zealous Trump supporters have set their sights on Dr. Anthony Fauci.
To the vast majority of Republicans, the entire medical community and the country at large, Fauci is the government’s leading infectious disease expert, respected for providing Americans with consistent, factual information about the coronavirus pandemic — even if it means contradicting President Donald Trump while he hovers feet away.
But to a vocal minority of right-wing blogs and pro-Trump pundits, Fauci is the embodiment of the establishment forces that have been arrayed against the president since he came to Washington. And those voices are getting louder amid rumblings about Fauci’s standing with Trump as the president itches to get the economy restarted in the coming weeks.
“A Deep-State Hillary Clinton-loving stooge,” read a Saturday headline on the American Thinker, a far-right website, latching on to a WikiLeaks-released email that showed Fauci praising Clinton for her Benghazi testimony as secretary of State.
“Guy was a Hillary mole,” pro-Trump podcaster Bill Mitchell tweeted on Monday.
Fauci’s portrayal in conservative media circles could play a crucial role in the coming days as the country comes to the end of a 15-day period of social distancing and business closures intended to slow the coronavirus outbreak. While public health officials like Fauci have cautioned that the country will likely have to extend that period, Trump and his team are signaling that they want to get people back to work soon, by mid-April if possible. The cues from right-wing media, as split as they are, could influence how much Trump listens to Fauci.
For the moment, Fauci — director of the National Institute Of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 — still has the respect of large swaths of Trump’s supporters, reflecting the unique fissures that have emerged in the MAGA movement during the coronavirus. Trump supporters who praise Fauci also tend to believe the president should employ swift, severe measures — and keep the economy shuttered — as long as necessary to keep coronavirus under control.
In past, non-pandemic times, the right would have likely unified in rallying against a government official publicly quibbling with the president. But this time, reliable Trump boosters like Breitbart and the majority of the Fox News stable are leaving him alone.
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