Talk show host Hugh Hewitt pushed Dr. Anthony Fauci on whether he should step down from his position as the nation’s most prevalent face of the pandemic for undermining public health.
In a recent episode of “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” the host admitted that COVID-19 “controversies” among health officials such as “botched testing at the beginning, no research on masks for children in primary care, the J&J pause, [and] the controversy over the use or non-use of Ivermectin” have harmed his trust in health agencies.
“I’ve lost confidence in the CDC and the FDA. And I actually believe a lot of Americans, a significant part of America, now have lost confidence in you, Dr. Fauci,” Hewitt said. “Is there a point where you will say, ‘I do more harm than good because people don’t listen to me anymore’ and step aside?”
“No, absolutely, unequivocally no, Hugh,” Fauci replied indignantly. He cited the pandemic as an “evolving situation” that required a certain level of “flip-flopping.”
Hewitt continued to press Fauci on presenting a “noble lie” about masking to the American public and said that while he understood the motives for it, there were plenty of Americans who reasonably lost their ability to trust the so-called experts.
“I think it’s bad policy, but I understand the motive. And I understand changing. I change my mind every day. You know, I’m on the air every day. Stuff happens. I change my mind. But what you said earlier — it’s just facts sometimes. It’s just a fact that Tony Fauci — not the guy I’m talking with but Tony Fauci, the person in people’s minds — is now an impediment to public health because people won’t listen to you,” Hewitt said. “They actively reject what Tony Fauci says for reasons which are complicated. They have to do with psychology, mass communication, social media. But can you accept that if that’s just a fact, you ought to respond to it and say, ‘Mr. President, I think my time is up as a successful and effective spokesperson’?”
Fauci once again disagreed with Hewitt and said, “There are an awful lot of people who do listen, who do the right thing from a public health standpoint.”
“So because there are a lot of people who have ideas about conspiracies and changing minds and flip-flopping, that’s not a reason to step down. Not at all,” Fauci continued. “When I was involved 40 years ago with HIV and the activist community were looking at me as a representative of the face of the federal government, and we’re trying to get things done, and it looked like we were at odds in the sense of really, essentially being hostile to each other, which we weren’t, that would have been interpreted as ‘Gee, the people who are involved in this particular difficult and devastating outbreak don’t like what you’re doing. Why don’t you step down?’ As a matter of fact, as it turned out, we got close. They understood. I brought them into the dialogue, into the discussion. And the world and the community were much better off with that. So the idea that people right now are not listening to what I’m saying, what I’m saying is the truth. It is a fact.”
Hewitt said that while Fauci’s time evaluating HIV may have worked out for him, “Tony Fauci in the era of social media is different than Tony Fauci at the beginning of HIV.”
“And if a new face for the program developed, we would see an increase in vaccines and an increase in booster use. So if that data is presented to you … that more people would get vaccinated if you left the scene, would you leave the scene?” Hewitt asked.
Instead of answering the question, Fauci accused Hewitt of promoting a “false narrative.”
“I am very sorry. I’ve told you I’ve known you a long time, and I respect you, but I totally reject that people are not getting vaccinated because of me? Are you kidding me, Hugh? Come on,” Fauci said.
“I’m trying to explain to you the truth. I got vaccinated because of you. But there is a large segment of the American people that doesn’t trust you now. And that can’t be undone. So I want you to be able to just speak to them. I know your heart. I know your public service. But if you’re an obstacle to getting vaccination rates up, should you step aside?” Hewitt pressed.
“I am not an obstacle to getting vaccinations up, Hugh. That is a completely false narrative that I would have to absolutely reject,” Fauci said, saying the allegation was ridiculous.
The back and forth continued and Hewitt questioned whether the top health official believes he is “understood by the center-right,” but Fauci once again refused to acknowledge the conversation’s premise.
“Hugh, you are creating an absolutely false narrative that people sit down and say, ‘You know, I don’t want, I know that vaccines are good. I know that they may save my life, and that they may save the life of my family, and that I have a societal responsibility in order to keep this outbreak under control and to get it really under control, but I’m not just not going to get vaccinated because of Tony Fauci,’” Fauci said.
“You’re not hearing me,” Hewitt shot back. “I’m saying people see you come on, and they turn off the channel because they don’t like you, whereas if a new face arrives, a new younger face that says, ‘OK, new start. I’m never going to tell you that masks don’t need to be worn because –.’ If a new person shows up, I think we’re more effective.”
Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.