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(Photo / Paul Morigi)


Dr. Anthony Fauci in testimony released on Friday complained about how the First Amendment made it more challenging to crack down on speech that was critical of him.

Fauci has faced intense scrutiny for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and his alleged role in funding gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China through EcoHealth Alliance. Fauci, who was formerly the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), testified to the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic behind closed doors in January, that it’s hard to mitigate the issue of demonization that he and other public officials have faced because of the First Amendment.

“When scientists sometimes want to push back against the misinformation and disinformation that’s out there, almost immediately they wind up getting threats,” Fauci testified in response to a line of questioning on how these threats are discouraging people from joining the public health profession. “I don’t know how that happens, but it happens quickly. It’s clear that when somebody gets up and defends Tony Fauci on social media or what have you, within an hour they get threats themselves.”

Fauci went on to say these threats are discouraging people from becoming public health officials. A representative asked the former NIAID director what the United States can do “to ensure we have a properly staffed and qualified workforce for scientific research and, specifically, pandemic preparedness.”

“One of the things is to show obvious support for public health officials,” Fauci answered, adding, “there certainly are disagreements that are valid disagreements for discussion. But when public health officials and individuals are demonized, I think there needs to be a lot of support for those people publicly by everyone, including all branches of government.”

Former President Donald Trump recently hinted at holding Fauci accountable by potentially prosecuting him if he is reelected.

“I wish there were not these kinds of threats, but I would encourage them to not be put aback, and hopefully something will be done to diminish that,” Fauci testified. “And by diminishing it, I mean what you were referring to, stop having the — well, you can’t stop people from doing things because they can say whatever they want to say. But when public officials and media demonize health officials, that is a real strong disincentive.”

“And I would encourage them to try to look past that at the rewards of what public health does, namely taking care of people, which is what I and many of my colleagues have done for a very long period of time. Again, it’s a tough situation because you can’t, because of freedom of speech, you can’t prevent someone from saying what it is that they want to say,” he added. “One of the things that we could do is to encourage public officials, who supposedly have the good of the country involved, not to be part of the problem of demonizing. And I have been demonized by a lot of public officials. I mean, I have become a campaign slogan throughout some of the election cycles, which is very, very clear. And that’s no secret. I can say that definitively as opposed to ‘I can’t recall.’ I do recall definitively what that is. I have been completely demonized in various elections, you know. ‘Fire Fauci. Throw him in jail. Vote for me.’”

While many American workers and businesses suffered financially in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic policies he had a role in imposing, Fauci and his wife’s net worth expanded by $5 million during that period.

President Joe Biden’s White House was involved in efforts to influence social media companies to censor certain viewpoints, particularly on issues of COVID-19 and vaccinations. Former White House Director of Digital Strategy Robert Flaherty recently was unable to state the “five tenets of the First Amendment” during testimony at a hearing about government censorship.


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