What’s the point of Trump’s smear campaign against Fauci?

What’s the point of Trump’s smear campaign against Fauci?

  • July 13, 2020
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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Wait. I can catch COVID twice?” — a patient of Dr. D. Clay Ackerly. In a Vox piece, Acklerly describes a case of reinfection, and the terrifying implications of it.

WHAT’S HAPPENING

Visitor at Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida, July 3, 2020.
Visitor at Lauderdale by the Sea, Florida, July 3, 2020.

mpi04/MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx via AP

The pandemic is battering the US, with caseloads rising in 39 states, a single-day record in Florida, and huge testing delays. Meanwhile, the White House is smearing infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci.

The Washington NFL team is dropping its offensive Redskins name. Owner Daniel Snyder capitulated to the change after FedEx threatened to withdraw its stadium sponsorship.  

Polish President Andrzej Duda narrowly won reelection. The right-wing nationalist and Trump ally has weakened civil society and independent journalism, exploited anti-semitism and homophobia, and undermined the judiciary. 

Stocks continue to rise in the US — even as evidence mounts that the recovery is collapsing and the economy is sinking deeper into recession.  

VIEWS OF THE DAY

Dr. Anthony Fauci at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Dr. Anthony Fauci at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on June 30, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Al Drago/Getty Images

The White House smear campaign against Anthony Fauci

Given President Trump’s notorious inattention to briefings, it’s not surprising — or even bad news — that Anthony Fauci doesn’t talk to him anymore. Trump probably wasn’t listening when Fauci did brief him, and Fauci was squandering time he could have spent doing literally anything else. 

Sidelining Fauci is one thing. Actively defaming him is much worse, though entirely expected from this White House.  Trump and his lackeys are smearing Fauci, probably the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, as wrong “about everything” and even circulating a list of Fauci’s alleged mistakes to reporters, as though it’s dirt on a political rival. 

President Trump tolerates only one kind of relationship with his employees, toadying. Everyone who won’t boot lick ends up fired, libeled, under investigation by Bill Barr, or all of the above. Since Fauci is a civil servant he can’t be fired, and he hasn’t yet been investigated by Barr — but don’t count that out! — so instead he’s just being defamed. 

This White House has proved time and time and time again during the pandemic that it doesn’t want truth. It wants good news, even when it’s false. Trump prefers happy lies to grim truths, and thanks in part to his negligence, the pandemic is proving to be a long roster of grim truths — testing catastrophes, spiking caseloads, surging deaths, a failed lockdown. 

As the president’s desires and the actual facts of the pandemic diverged further and further, Fauci became expendable, even a threat. The Trump White House would rather silence truth than face it. — DP

The most alarming thing you’ll read this week, and it’s only Monday morning. The story of a patient who has been reinfected with COVID-19. Writing for Vox, a doctor describes a patient who suffered a moderate case of the disease in the spring, passed two PCR tests showing he was clear of coronavirus, and then fell sick again six weeks later with a much worse case of COVID-19. 

Coupled with a recent Spanish study showing that antibodies disappear in some former patients, this news of a repeat infection suggests we can’t attain herd immunity, and that a vaccine is our only hope for escaping our masked, socially distant limbo. — DP

A man holding a Q sign waits in line with others to enter a campaign rally with President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
A man holding a Q sign waits in line with others to enter a campaign rally with President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Matt Rourke

Trump 2020 is the QAnon Campaign

The 45th president has long peddled conspiracy theories so outlandish that there have been widespread calls for him to be banned from social media.

Among these tinfoil hat conspiracies is QAnon — which as Politico’s Tina Nguyen described it is “a sprawling and ever-mutating belief that a mysterious government official who goes by ‘Q’ is leaving online clues about a messianic Trump’s secret plan to dismantle a cadre of Washington elites engaged in everything from pedophilia to child sex trafficking.”

Did you get all that? 

It takes elements of “deep state” paranoia, mixes in a little bit of “Pizzagate” madness, and includes a “hero” figure fighting for “the people.” It also makes absolutely no sense. 

As Trump’s presidency implodes thanks in no small part to his catastrophic management of the coronavirus pandemic, he has been sinking ever further into the QAnon fever swamp. As Nguyen reports, on July 4 he sent 14 retweets of QAnon-friendly accounts and since the pandemic began, he’s retweeted at least 90 posts from such accounts. 

Also sharing QAnon-associated content have been Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, his campaign manager Brad Parscale, and his deputy communications director Dan Scavino. His former national security adviser Michael Flynn even posted a video where he takes a loyalty oath sprinkled with Q-related phrases. 

It’s not as if Trump has ever needed a reason to lean into unhinged conspiracy-mongering. But in the case of Q, in what could be the final months of his presidency, he’s just giving one of his most loyal bases what they want: an enemy to focus their ire on while the economy continues to freefall and tens of thousands of new COVID infections occur on a daily basis. — AF

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Ted Cruz will have to cancel his vacation in Hainan

In the latest tit-for-tat between the US and China, Beijing has placed sanctions on thre US lawmakers — GOP Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and GOP Rep. Chris Smith — and one Ambassador, Sam Brownback. This is in response to sanctions the US placed on senior Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials connected to reeducation camps in the country’s Xinjiang province where millions of Uighur Muslims have been forcibly detained.

According to the Associated Press, Chinese authorities didn’t give much detail as to what these sanctions would entail, saying only that they would correspond to US sanctions. US sanctions prohibit the sale of property between any American and the four CCP officials and bars three of them from entering the US.

It’s difficult to imagine any of these gentlemen losing too much sleep over being denied entry to China. The incident highlights the imbalance that remains between the two superpowers. The US still owns the global financial system and it is a top destination for wealthy Chinese people trying to get money out of China. 

So yes, this response from China is a petty gesture befitting its new “wolf warrior diplomacy” strategy — a strategy that requires a hyper aggressive response to any slight, no matter what the circumstances. And what it tells us more than anything is that we’re in a high-risk environment where stupid mistakes can easily be made. — LL

The swamp gets a win for the gun manufacturers

Here’s a story. A man lobbies for The American Suppressor Association, a trade group advocating for the removal of a ban on US gun manufacturers selling silencers to non-state actors overseas.

Two years later this man, Michael B. Williams, joins the Trump administration as a White House lawyer.

And two years after that, against the wishes of the Department of Defense, the ban is removed in a victory for Williams and his brother, Knox Williams, the president of the American Suppressor Association.

The Defense Department didn’t want US gun manufacturers to sell silencers to non-state actors because it feared that troops could be attacked with silencers made in their own country. People like the Williams brothers would tell you, “What’s the difference? Non-US gun manufacturers make silencers and sell them to whoever they want.”

This is the kind of moral relativism you always hear from swamp creatures. “If we don’t do x bad thing, someone else will just do it” — as if we should have FOMO, or something, as if gun manufacturers making money should be more important than being in good moral standing with those who fight and die for our country. 

Trump ran on draining the swamp, but — as many who observed Trump through the years tried to explain — he actually thrives best in conditions where morality is not a consideration. He is a President who can’t understand why the US has a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits American companies from paying bribes overseas. He is a man who hired Paul Manafort to run his campaign. He is transactional, and so are the people he surrounds himself with. And those people get what they want in this White House. — LL

What’s really causing Daniel Snyder to drop the name “Redskins”

Dan Snyder
Dan Snyder

Rob Carr/Getty Images

Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington NFL team, does not understand football but he does understand money. Snyder’s team finally, finally announced it’s abandoning — oh, sorry, “retiring” — its embarrassing name Redskins today (and presumably its horrid logo).

Snyder had vowed “NEVER — you can use caps” to change the offensive name, but corporate pressure did what common decency never could with the detested team owner. FedEx threatened to pull its brand off the team stadium if Snyder didn’t drop the pejorative name. Pepsi and Bank of America prepared to yank their sponsorships too. And the Mayor and City Council of DC made clear that Snyder would never get the new downtown stadium he desperately wants unless he dropped the name. 

But if FedEx forced Snyder to act, what forced FedEx to act? The Black Lives Matter/George Floyd protests. The protests and accompanying activism about racist names, symbols, and statues squeezed FedEx and its corporate kin. They finally realized they were risking their own good reputations by associating with the Redskins’ bad one. Why should they pay for Snyder’s folly? 

The team hasn’t announced a new name yet. Apparently the name Snyder wants has to clear a trademark dispute. When they do announce it, the vast majority of fans will celebrate, and then return to our real sorrow about the team. Once upon a time, Washington had thrilling players, capable coaches, a boisterous stadium, and victories. Unfortunately, Snyder’s ruinous ownership has stolen all of those from us. A new name is a small consolation.  — DP

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Warren Buffett (left) and Elon Musk (right)
Warren Buffett (left) and Elon Musk (right)

Alex Wong/Getty, REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

How will Congress replace the expiring unemployment benefit? Insider asked analysts, who predict the US could keep some kind of higher unemployment benefit, and add a back-to-work bonus. 

Elon Musk is richer than Warren Buffett, With Tesla stock surging, Musk’s net worth just topped $70.5 billion

LIFE

John Travolta Kelly preston Oscars
John Travolta Kelly preston Oscars

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Kelly Preston died at 57 of breast cancer. Her husband John Travolta announced her death. Preston starred in “Jerry Maguire” and “The Cat in the Hat,” among many films. 

He woke from a coma with memory loss. Here’s how he pieced his life back together. Todd Wasserman remembered the birth of his children but not his wife. He thought he was 10 years old, but he was 50. 

THE BIG 3*

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams walks to the West Wing of the White House after a television interview July 7, 2020 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams walks to the West Wing of the White House after a television interview July 7, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Trump retweets post accusing CDC of lying about the pandemic to prevent his reelection. The original tweet came from game show host Chuck Woolery. 

Surgeon General Jerome Adams says US can reverse pandemic in “two to three weeks.” Adams says it will happen if we all do our part by wearing masks and keeping physically distant.  

Five Guys employees fired for refusing to serve police officers. Workers at the Daphne, AL, franchise reportedly turned their backs on the officers when they entered. 

*The most popular stories on Insider today.

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