Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most vocal supporter of emergency virus interventions at the administration, is facing a torrent of false allegations that he is mobilizing to overthrow the president.
President Trump dubbed the State Department the “Deep State Department” at a White House briefing on the coronavirus on March 20. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, lowered his head behind him and rubbed his forehead. Many felt that Dr. Fauci was slighting the president,
which led to a vitriolic response online. A post that falsely claimed he was part of a hidden conspiracy that opposed Mr. Trump was quickly posted thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook, reaching nearly 1.5 million people. A week later, Dr. Fauci — the most vocal supporter of emergency measures by the administration to combat the coronavirus outbreak — became the subject of an online conspiracy theory he is mobilizing to discredit the president.
A study by The New York Times found more than 70 Twitter accounts supporting the hashtag # FauciFraud, with some tweeting as much as 795 times a day. The anti-Fauci sentiment is being amplified by posts by Tom Fitton, the founder of the conservative organization Judicial Watch; Bill Mitchell, the host of the far-right online talk show “YourVoice America;” Several of the anti-Fauci messages, some of which referred to a seven-year-old email that Dr. Fauci had sent when she was Secretary of State to compliment Hillary Clinton, have been retweeted thousands of times. In the past week, on YouTube, conspiracy-theory videos about Dr. Fauci racked up hundreds of thousands of views.
The avalanche of falsehoods aimed at discrediting Dr. Fauci is yet another example of the hyperpartisan flow of knowledge that has pushed a wedge in American thought. President Trump’s far-right backers have routinely vilified those they see as opposed to him in recent years And so, the campaign against Dr. Fauci stands out because he is one of the world’s leading experts on infectious disease and a member of Mr. Trump’s task force on viruses, and it is unfolding when the government is fighting a pathogen that is increasingly spreading in the US. T is the latest twist in the ebb and flow of right-wing punditry, repeated by Mr. Trump for weeks in dismissing the threat posed by a coronavirus and potentially weakening attempts to alert the public to its risks
As the president took a more assertive position against the epidemic, conservative media have shifted — but now accuse Democrats and Journalists of seeking to exploit the pandemic to politically harm Mr. Trump. “There seems to be a concerted attempt on the part of Trump supporters to actively disseminate disinformation about the virus,” said Carl Bergstrom, a biology professor at Washington University who researched disinformation. Adding that Dr. Fauci bears the brunt of the attacks, Mr. Bergstrom said: “There is this feeling that experts are untrustworthy, and have motives that are not compatible with the people. It’s really disturbing as it undermines the experts in this out of hand. According to Zignal Labs, anti-Fauci messages spike up.
A March 21 report in The American Thinker, a conservative blog that reported the seven-year-old email that Dr. Fauci had sent to Mrs. Clinton’s assistant, caused much of the rise. During the 2013 Benghazi hearings, Dr. Fauci thanked Mrs. Clinton in the email for her stamina.
The American Thinker wrongly believed the email was evidence that he was part of a hidden organization against Mr. Trump. The movement was part of a long-term conspiracy theory propagated by Mr. Trump’s supporters, said Ms. Phillips, the Syracuse assistant professor. “Fauci was especially popular, just now,” she said. “So any official of public health who is put into a conspiracy theory will be subject to the same kinds of suspicions, the same kinds of doubts.”