MSNBC anchor piles on flattery for Fauci after focus group suggests he's become too 'politicized'

Media top headlines May 5

The Facebook Advisory Board’s ruling on former President Donald Trump’s account and more round out today’s top media headlines.

MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle piled on the flattery of Dr. Anthony Fauci on her program, appearing to try to give him a confidence boost following a Washington Post piece that suggested he had become too “politicized” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The data have shown that unfortunately Dr. Fauci has been politicized, and we need different messengers, because even the right messages coming from the wrong messengers aren’t always helpful,” said epidemiologist Brian Castrucci, who helped organize a focus group with GOP pollster Frank Luntz.

“How does that make you feel?” Ruhle asked Fauci on Wednesday. “You have dedicated your whole professional life to working on infectious diseases, to working with the federal government for 40 years, devoting yourself to science and protecting the American people. When you hear that quote, how do you feel?”

“I don’t take those things personally,” Fauci insisted, saying he is “a non-political person.”

He went on to argue that the people politicizing him are “extreme,” singling out Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as lawmakers who have used congressional hearings to criticize him.

“It is what it is,” Fauci said.

Critics have blasted Dr. Fauci for moving the goalposts and contradicting himself over COVID guidelines the past year. Last week, he confused Americans again when he said that while children are at low risk for COVID, they should still be masked outside. New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz called that take “blood-boiling nonsense.”

Relatedly, Ruhle asked the infectious diseases expert for more reaction to the CDC’s strict new guidelines on summer camps. According to the public health agency, children and adults must wear masks at all times at camp, including children as young as 2 years old, the only exceptions being when eating and swimming. Campers must also stay 3 feet apart, and cannot share toys or games.

Ruhle asked Dr. Fauci if he thought the guidelines were “too conservative.”

“I cannot reasonably argue against your point,” Fauci admitted. His admission comes after a “TODAY” show interview in which he said the CDC guidance “looks a bit strict.” He did, however, stop short of calling the CDC-restricted summer camps “outdoor prisons.”

Fauci added a caveat, noting that while the risk to children is relatively low, “you don’t want them to be part of the chain of transmission.” Children, he said, may “innocently” infect someone else.

“If you really want to get control, you want to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, no matter who they are,” Fauci said.

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