Sparks flew Wednesday as a conversation between CNN contributor Mary Katharine Ham and political analyst David Gregory broke down into a heated exchange concerning the polarized treatment of Dr. Anthony Fauci by the media and some politicians.
Appearing on “New Day,” Ham and Gregory differed on the criticism Fauci has received from some members of Congress and the media, with the former blasting the media’s “fangirling” of the long-time health official, and the latter defending him as “remarkably consistent.”
“I don’t think it’s entirely a game. I think it’s that Fauci is a very powerful public official who deserves, and rarely gets, tough questioning in almost any realm,” Ham said to liberal guest host John Avlon when he suggested Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was playing a “political game” by painting Fauci as a “bad actor” in the response to the pandemic.
Paul has acccused Fauci of lying about his and the government’s possible role in funding gain of function research at the Chinese lab suspected as the origin site for COVID-19. Fauci shot back this week that Paul didn’t know what he was talking about.
“[Fauci] gets, frankly, a lot of fangirling and a lot of forum for his ideas and he doesn’t get a lot of pushback,” Ham added. “[Paul was] asking about a tough subject that, admittedly, none of us are experts on, but I would like to know a lot more about. And despite his protestations, tough questions for Dr. Anthony Fauci are not attacks on science itself.”
Ham claimed Fauci was partly responsible for his own lack of trustworthiness, pointing to his reversals on various recommendations throughout the pandemic, including on wearing masks and herd immunity thresholds, saying, “Those are just facts. And it is an issue that a very powerful public figure was found to be shading the truth about these things and it is a reason that people have come to distrust him.”
“There’s no question that liberals have jumped to Fauci’s defense all the time,” Gregory said. “That never meant that somehow Fauci was responsible for making every decision with regard to what people ought to do.”
“Proper scrutiny of Fauci … I think is totally appropriate. That’s separate from what I think in this case is Rand Paul … trying to make a larger case against Fauci, who may not be infallible … I’ve been listening to Fauci for months on this. I think he’s been remarkably consistent,” he added.
Ham slammed the media for their defense of Fauci.
“Both Fauci and much of the media and much of his fan base, frankly, conflate confronting him about these things in a serious way with an attack on him personally. It’s not an attack on him personally to note that he has done these things,” Ham said. “He is the face of the messaging for this. At times he has been not a great face for the messaging of these things.”
“On the issue of this particular line of questioning which has to do with the lab leak theory … you may say it’s legitimate to ask him difficult questions but we don’t ever seem to get around to it,” she added. “This is the kind of thing that makes people distrust folks when we’re told we can’t talk about something that we have good reason to ask questions about.”
The two began to speak over each other before Gregory declared, “I’m sorry. This is getting into cable news silliness. This is cable news silliness.”
“I’m not here to get in a shouting match,” he added after the two began to talk over each other again.
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