They're really criticizing science because I represent science’: Is Fauci right?

Alex Brandon / AP

Fact Box

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci is the leading immunologist for the White House, serving as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. 
  • On November 28, 2021, Fauci responded on CBS’s “Face the Nation” to criticism on his COVID response and accusations from Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul of lying to congress about “gain-of-function” research potentially resulting in the COVID-19 outbreak that “It’s easy to criticize, but they’re really criticizing science because I represent science. That’s dangerous.” 
  • Sen. Paul tweeted in response to Fauci’s interview that it was “astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity.” 
  • Gain of function refers to extracting viruses from animals, genetically altering them in a lab which can result in higher transmissibility to humans.
  • On May 19, 2021, the director of National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a statement denying ‘gain-of-function’ research. Then on October 20, 2021, NIH released another statement which Paul and Cruz claim contradicts Fauci’s July Senate hearing statements.

Jimmy (Yes)

As Chief Medical Advisor to the President, Dr. Fauci is the face of public health during the deadliest pandemic in US history. In a recent television appearance, Dr. Fauci responded to Senator Cruz's claim he lied about research funding at a Wuhan lab by saying, 'They're really criticizing science because I represent science.' Though Fauci's work is only one part of a community that conducts and shares research, he has become a target for a politically motivated backlash against science.

The NIH has already labeled the allegations regarding the Wuhan lab as misinformation. Still, Ted Cruz and other Conservatives continue to focus on Fauci because, as Fauci says, 'If they get up and criticize science, nobody's going to know what they're talking about.' Contradicting scientific data that supports vaccines and masks, Cruz opposes public health mandates, even those that would protect children. To illustrate his political agenda, he needs a scapegoat. Like his vocal opposition to Big Bird's vaccination, so too is his attack on Fauci merely theatrical partisanship.

These attacks on Fauci are part of a broader ideological trend. In 2015, Cruz and other Senators claimed that scientific evidence did not support Global Warming. This is patently false. Cruz and his far-right Conservatives merely espouse such rhetoric to exploit American's loss of faith in expertise. A Pew survey reveals that only 20% of Americans trust the government. Increasingly, voters turn to conspiracy theories over facts. Tapping into this portion of the electorate has proved beneficial for politicians. As Fauci points out, science now serves as a 'Proxy for those who want to lash out against authority figures.'

Curtice (No)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, declared Sunday that those who criticize him are really criticizing science. To be clear, criticizing Fauci, a career government bureaucrat, is not criticizing science. He may 'represent science,' as he puts it, but he is not science itself. A quick check of some of Fauci's comments certainly back that up.

Early in the pandemic, Fauci advised Americans against wearing facemasks. He later changed his opinion, saying that face masks were vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19. He further defended his initial statements about facemasks because there may have been a 'serious problem with lack of PPEs.' That may or may not have been true, but what is true is that his statement discouraging Americans from wearing facemasks was over concerns about a supply shortage. That worry, however, was not based on science.

It also appears clear that Fauci lied to Congress about research funding. He testified before Congress repeatedly that the National Institute of Health does not fund gain-of-function research. Yet, the NIH admitted in October that a 'limited experiment' was done regarding spike proteins. If Fauci is science, science lied to Congress.

As recently as this past Sunday, Fauci continued to further the Chinese wet market theory as a likely origin of the COVID-19 virus. That has largely been debunked, and the lab leak theory, which was not initially taken seriously by the media or Fauci, now seems much more likely.  

Fauci's job is not to deflect attention away from the lab leak theory, which he knows could potentially shift the blame back to the NIH. If Fauci represents science, perhaps science should seek out a better representative.

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