A key member of America’s coronavirus response team says the Trump administration has been controlling his media appearances during the pandemic.
Dr Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s top infectious disease experts, said he was banned from conducting several interviews with prominent news outlets.
“You know, I think I’d have to be honest and say yes,” said Dr Fauci, 79, when asked by CBS News’s Jon LaPook if White House officials had prevented him from appearing on TV.
“I certainly have not been allowed to go on many, many, many shows that have asked for me,” added Fauci.
As Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Fauci has over the past few months become one of the most trusted and recognisable faces in the US.
At the onset of the pandemic in the US earlier this year, he and Mr Trump shared a platform as they updated the public on measures being taken to control transmission of the disease.
But the pair’s relationship became strained in the intervening months, with Dr Fauci critising the president’s decision not to introduce stricter lockdown measures to fight a disease that has so far claimed some 220,000 US lives.
Dr Fauci’s comments on CBS‘s ’60 Minutes’ came days after ABC host Jon Karl said White Officials banned the medical expert from appearing on the ‘This Week’ show.
CNN and NBC also tried and failed to book Dr Fauci for interviews on their respective Sunday morning political shows, HuffPost reported.
White House communications director Alyssa Farah disputed Mr Karl’s account, adding the host did not request another member of the coronavirus task force, which he denies.
Earlier this month, Dr Fauci criticised a White Rose Garden event held to introduce Mr Trump’s pick for the supreme court, Amy Coney Barrett.
The president and a number of his top aides tested positive for coronavirus following the GOP gathering, which Dr Fauci described as a “superspreader” event.
Dr Fauci looks on as president Trump delivers remarks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15, 2020Getty Images
Dr Fauci doubled down on that criticism during Sunday’s interview, saying he was “absolutely not” surprised the commander-in-chief became ill after the event, where few attendees wore masks or followed social distancing guidelines.
“When I saw that on TV, I said, ‘Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come out of that, that’s got to be a problem.’ And then sure enough, it turned out to be a superspreader event”, he added.
Dr Fauci also hit out at the Trump campaign for using his words out of context in a recent party political ad.
“I do not and nor will I ever publicly endorse any political candidate. And here I am, they’re sticking me right in the middle of a campaign ad, which I thought was outrageous,” said Fauci.
He added: “I was referring to something entirely different. I was referring to the gruelling work of the task force that, ‘God, we were knocking ourselves out seven days a week.
“I don’t think we could have possibly have done any more than that.”
When asked if the steam started to come out of his ears after seeing the ad, Dr Fauci replied: “It did, quite frankly. I got really ticked off.”
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