Thousands of emails from the inbox of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to President Biden, were made public this week via the Freedom of Information Act. And while many longtime detractors and pandemic downplayers have pounced on this batch of emails by attempting to posit various excerpts as damning in one way or another, the truth is much more simple.
At the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, many Americans were confused as to whether the then-growing global health concern would become a long term complication for everyday life. And while masks and other social distancing measures did indeed become daily practice, the months that led up to a greater understanding of how to move forward in the pandemic era were complicated greatly by widespread misinformation on social media and similarly rampant misinformation from then-president Donald Trump.
The difficulties Dr. Fauci faced during the Trump administration were well-documented in the press, and—as revealed in the newly released emails—concerned parties had directly reached out over fears of censorship.
One unidentified woman’s email from February 2020, for example, mentioned worries that then-VP Mike Pence had taken action to prevent Fauci from speaking to the public about coronavirus.
“This is quite terrifying, especially since Trump has already shown his desire to spread false or incomplete information about this public health crisis,” the email said, per Natalie Bettendorf and Jason Leopold for BuzzFeed News, who reported Tuesday they had obtained more than 3,200 pages of emails spanning from January to June of last year.
Fauci responded to the email one day later, saying there was “much misinformation” at the time and that he had “not been muzzled at all” by Pence.
Others emailed Fauci with similar concerns, including a columnist and a psychologist, the latter of whom wanted to know if Fauci was being censored by the Trump administration. In both cases, Fauci said he had not been told by the administration to refrain from speaking publicly about the pandemic.
“I can assure you that I am not being censored,” Fauci said when responding to the psychologist’s email.
Meanwhile, others—including Mark Zuckerberg and Morgan Fairchild—emailed Fauci to offer their gratitude for his leadership and to offer their assistance in navigating the pandemic.
In addition to the thousands of pages of emails obtained by BuzzFeed News, the Washington Post also shared excerpts from hundreds of pages of emails spanning from March to April of last year. Additionally, CNN also reported having obtained emails dating back to February, though “many are heavily redacted.”
Elsewhere in the trove of emails, the pre-CDC announcement attitude on masks is documented, as is Fauci’s apparent reluctance toward the idea of becoming a full-blown celebrity due to being often regarded as a voice of reason amid the pandemic.
“Our society is really totally nuts,” Fauci joked in one email from April 2020 when referencing articles that were popping up at the time that pointe
Complex has reached out the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for additional comment.
Last month, Fauci cautioned against misinterpreting the latest updates to the CDC’s pandemic guidelines. As shown in recent data, interest in securing a vaccine appointment actually saw a detectable uptick following the latest CDC updates on best practices for those who are already fully vaccinated.