Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Last May, Dr. Fauci offered National Geographic magazine an “exclusive” interview. It was one of the millions of exclusive interviews that he seemed to be doing for every media outlet in the country and on the planet. But there was a special twist to this particular exclusive interview.
President Trump revealed a week earlier that he had seen evidence that the coronavirus pandemic had come out of a Chinese lab. The media and its pet experts rushed to shut down what they called a “conspiracy theory” even though it was backed by secret intelligence.
And the media’s biggest pet expert was Fauci who was more than happy to oblige.
Fauci told the magazine owned by Disney, China’s big corporate partner, the evidence is “very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated” but he turned curiously evasive when asked if it could have leaked from Wuhan’s Level 4 lab and dismissed the relevance of the question since the virus “was in the wild to begin with”.
While Fauci pretended to be disinterested in the question of the pandemic’s origins, emails released through Freedom of Information Act requests showed he knew what was at stake.
In April, before Fauci’s interview or President Trump’s comments, Peter Daszak, whose EcoHealth Alliance had moved millions in grants from the National Institutes of Health to study bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, thanked Fauci for protecting the lab.
Daszak offered Fauci a “personal thank you on behalf of our staff and collaborators” for backing “a natural origin for COVID-19 from a bat-to-human spillover, not a lab release from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” The entire middle part of the email was curiously redacted. It’s unclear if the collaborators would have included the Chinese scientists laboring away in Wuhan.
The EcoHealth Alliance had been working with Wuhan’s top man, Shi Zhengli, and Fauci wasn’t a disinterested party. The Wuhan grant had come through NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases which Fauci has headed since 1984. The lab release theory wasn’t just bad news for the EcoHealth Alliance, whose grant would be suspended by the Trump administration, but for Fauci, who wasn’t just helping the media slam Trump, but was also helping himself.
“We’ll all know the shoddy truth of how a conspiracy theory pushed by this administration led @NIHDirector to block the only US research group still working in China to analyze COVID origins,” Daszak later angrily tweeted.
“Why was it canceled? It was canceled because the NIH was told to cancel it,” Fauci glibly told Congress that summer. “I don’t know the reason, but we were told to cancel it.”
Not even Fauci’s biggest media fans could pretend that he didn’t know why it was cancelled.
But even while Fauci was pretending that he didn’t understand why the issue kept coming up when he was in front of the cameras, his emails show that he was well aware of the issue.
Emails show that Fauci was urgently conferring with NIAID’s Principal Deputy Director Hugh Auchincloss over gain of function experiments. “She will try to determine if we have any distant ties to this work abroad,” Auchincloss wrote in one email. Fauci likely already knew the answer.
Fauci closed another email to Auchincloss with a curt, “You will have tasks today that must be done.” It was a curious response to the sort of thing that he would breezily dismiss as an irrelevant distraction that he was baffled to be even asked about while in public forums.
But Fauci was actually a longstanding fan of gain-of-function research despite its deadly risks.
In 2012, he pondered the possibility that, “an important gain-of-function experiment involving a virus with serious pandemic potential is performed” and then badly replicated so that a “scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic?”
What was Fauci’s response to a pandemic caused by dangerous gain-of-function research?
“Scientists working in this field might say – as indeed I have said – that the benefits of such experiments and the resulting knowledge outweigh the risks.”
It’s entirely possible that we might all be living in that no longer hypothetical world right now.
A year later, Fauci lifted a gain-of-function moratorium on influenza viruses. In 2017, NIH lifted a pause on gain-of- function research on influenza, SARS, and MERS. The pause had been implemented by the Obama administration which offered guidance for lifting it in its final days.
Nature Magazine succinctly described the move in a headline, “The National Institutes of Health will again fund research that makes viruses more dangerous.”
This year, Fauci dismissed the funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a “a modest collaboration with very respectable Chinese scientists who were world experts on coronavirus.”
But the very respectable lab and its scientists were, as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said, “engaged in efforts connected to the People’s Liberation Army” with “military activity being performed alongside what they claimed was just good old civilian research.”
Fauci insisted that the NIH was not directly backing gain-of-function research that could have produced a pandemic, but the NIH could not deny that the Chinese Military could have done so.
He admitted in a Senate hearing, “You never know” when asked about possible gain of function research being carried out anyway, but kept insisting that he trusted Chinese researchers.
Some of the researchers had to be hospitalized with an unusual illness before the pandemic. The revelation of that and other research has helped demolish Fauci’s attempt to stonewall the theory that the pandemic had come out of the very same lab funded by his National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Fauci has signaled a greater openness to the theory he once fought, but it’s much too late to salvage his reputation. The latest release of Fauci emails, heavily censored in places, once again shows that he was the man who knew too much.
As the National Geographic interview went live, a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases employee gushingly emailed him, “I am grateful to say my Director is Dr. Anthony Fauci and share with my family, friends, and church that if you said it, it’s gospel.”
But the faith in Fauci is falling into expert heresy as new revelations arrive every day. The prayer candles and t-shirts, the tide of Fauci fantasies and fan mail, is beginning to recede. Even his biggest fans are turning from the gospel of Fauci to ask some very hard questions.
The experts and the media made it a priority to suppress the China lab leak theory under President Trump. Without Trump, the media no longer has any real need to cover for Fauci and China. What was once falsely described by the media as a “conspiracy theory” is now science.
And if those Fauci emails set off alarm bells, the ones he’s sending now must be deafening.