Now that discussion regarding the origin of the COVID-19 virus is no longer verboten in the halls of government and the national press, two opposing sides face a reckoning. With Dr. Anthony Fauci – who has headed the coronavirus response from the start – on one side and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the other, it is as much a battle of personalities as it is of facts. Neither side is willing to admit the other may be right, yet each believes that the other is acting outside the interests of the belabored United States.
Fauci and Pompeo took to the airwaves on June 3 in a not-quite real-time tennis match of arguments and ideas. Was there a clear winner? And more importantly, what did the spectators think of this Battle Royale?
Fauci Runs Defense
In an interview with CNN, Dr. Fauci attempted to control the fallout of his recently released emails. While the relative softballs from New Day host John Berman were expected fare, the doctor struggled to appear confident in his defense. When asked whether the emails displayed a “too cozy” relationship with researchers at the Wuhan virology lab, Fauci responded, “That’s nonsense. I don’t even see how they get that from that email.” He continued:
“I have always said, and will say today to you, John, that I still believe the most likely origin is from an animal species to a human, but I keep an absolutely open mind that if there may be other origins of that, there may be another reason, it could have been a lab leak.”
When pressed on details of some of the emails, Fauci said, “You can misconstrue it however you want.” The man who has become known as “America’s Doctor” was perhaps not used to being the subject of a major controversy, and he finally lost patience when asked by Berman what was in the redacted portion of an email from National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, who wrote that the “conspiracy theory gains momentum.” The COVID frontman let fly, saying, “They only took about 10,000 emails from me, of course I remember. I remember all 10,000 of them. Give me a break … I don’t remember what’s in that redacted, but the idea I think is quite farfetched that the Chinese deliberately engineered something so that they could kill themselves as well as other people. I think that’s a bit far out, John.”
Pompeo Blasts Fauci
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo provided a rebuttal to Dr. Fauci when he appeared a while later on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle.
“To hear Fauci this morning talk about how the Chinese have an interest in us discovering what happened is just crazy talk. The Chinese have a deep interest in covering it up. They have done so pretty darn effectively,” he said.
Pompeo blasted Fauci for espousing “the exact same theories that the Chinese Communist Party has presented for over a year now.” But it appears his incredulity (feigned or otherwise) was reserved for what he perceives as naivety from the nation’s top doctor:
“He implies good faith for the Chinese Communist Party: We are on the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square [incident] For Dr. Fauci to go out and think the CCP cared that there were people in Wuhan who were dying … is just naïve beyond all possible imagination.”
America In The Middle
As spectators, the American public is in a quandary. Who to believe? Who is the most credible source for information regarding how this particular coronavirus came into existence? And perhaps more importantly, whose worldview is most likely to prevent another such calamity?
Dr. Fauci himself states that outbreaks and pandemics are going to happen again and again. Perhaps it’s time to take a more skeptical approach to dealing with actors who may have either bad or selfish intent. Or, as President Ronald Reagan liked to warn, “Trust, but verify.”
Read more from Mark Angelides.