“The Real Anthony Fauci”

As a legislator and as a citizen, I respect our public health leaders and the process they go through to make decisions. I usually trust the conclusions they reach and accept the recommendations that they make. My recent survey about vaccine mandates suggests that most of my constituents feel the same way.

Yet, I never lightly dismiss the views of my constituents who disagree. Two constituents went to the effort to send me copies of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s book, The Real Anthony Fauci. I did read the first section of the book, the section that speaks to management of the current pandemic. I skimmed the rest of the book which speaks to older history. I also examined some of the sources that RFK Jr. relies on.

RFK Jr., perceives a malicious conspiracy to promote vaccines over alternative health care methods. The basic narrative is that a vaccine cartel exaggerated the dangers of COVID-19 and discredited lower-cost treatments — like Vitamin D, Ivermectin, and Hydroxychloroquine — with the goal of making profits on vaccines.

The lead villain in the narrative is Dr. Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. A villain needs to be larger than life. RFK Jr. says that Fauci wields “power enjoyed by few rulers and no doctor in history.” (Page xvi.) Consider that statement in light of the many state and local officials across the country who are bucking federal pandemic advice. The CDC with Dr. Fauci’s support reinstated indoor masking guidelines last July when the Delta variant emerged, advising people to wear masks in indoor public spaces in areas with substantial or high transmission. Now with Omicron, the whole country is a high transmission area. Yet, many states have never required masks or do not currently require masks and some states prevent local governments from requiring them. Would lower level officials respond so casually to the great dictators of history? No. Dr. Fauci is respected by many, but should not be numbered among the most powerful rulers in history.

RFK Jr. points out that Dr. Fauci is “the highest paid of all four million federal employees, including the President.” (Page xvi.) What that observation really speaks to is not how all-powerful Dr. Fauci is, but how low the federal salary scale is. Physicians with research and leadership skills are very marketable in the private sector and the public sector has to pay them well to retain them. The highest paid state employee in Massachusetts is the head of the University of Massachusetts Medical school and he makes more than twice what Dr. Fauci makes. Similarly, all of the top five highest paid state employees in New York are health researchers or executives and they all make more than Dr. Fauci. For a southern example, 11 of the 25 highest paid state employees in Georgia are medical doctors and they all make more than Dr. Fauci. The health care sector employs 22 million people in the United States and includes many centers of power. Dr. Fauci is a visible and important person, but health care leadership is broadly dispersed.

RFK Jr. portrays Dr. Fauci as “cracking down on HCQ [hydrochloroquine] to keep case fatalities high.” (Page 30.) Speaking of federal decisions not to authorize Hydroxychloroquine as a COVID treatment, he says:

Most of my fellow Democrats understand that Dr. Fauci led an effort to deliberately derail America’s access to lifesaving drugs and medicines that might have saved hundreds of thousands of lives and dramatically shortened the pandemic. There is no other aspect of the COVID crisis that more clearly reveals the malicious intentions of a powerful vaccine cartel — led by Dr. Fauci and Bill Gates — to prolong the pandemic and amplify its mortal effects in order to promote their mischievous inoculations.

The Real Anthony Fauci, p.19

The framing, “Most of my fellow Democrats understand . . . ,” is plainly false. As recently as December 2021, Dr. Fauci was one of only three leaders with a positive favorability rating among Americans, and he had an 85% favorable rating among Democrats. In 2020, 79% of Democrats and a majority of Republicans felt Dr. Fauci had done a good job handling the pandemic. He was the fourth most admired man among Americans in 2020, behind three presidents.

But then consider the horrific allegation itself — distorting research results so as to kill people so as to make other people want vaccines. As part of his case for the allegation, RFK Jr. zeros in on one of the clear failures of the research vetting process in 2020. An influential study in Lancet showed that hydrochloroquine was not clinically useful in COVID-19 treatment. However, it swiftly emerged that the study and another study on a different issue that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine were based on likely non-existent data from a bogus “big data” research company called Surgisphere. RFK Jr. reads the incident as proof of the power of the “cartel”:

The capacity of their Pharma overlords to strong-arm the world’s top two medical journals, the NEJM and The Lancet, into condoning deadly research and to simultaneously publish blatantly fraudulent articles in the middle of a pandemic attests to the cartel’s breathtaking power and ruthlessness.

The Real Anthony Fauci, p. 30

RFK Jr.’s over-the-top word choice is a red flag in itself. But the fundamental problem with his argument is that in the same time frame, Surgisphere also was able to circulate an influential, but fraudulent article supporting Ivermectin. Ivermectin is the other potential treatment for COVID-19 that RFK Jr. believes has been unfairly discredited by Fauci and the “cartel.” Surgisphere’s fraudulent article contributed heavily towards the expansion of Ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment in Latin America. If the “cartel” is so powerful and ruthless, why did it allow that?

The simpler truth is that in the midst of a rush for cures, a recklessly ambitious company like Surgisphere was able to deceive a number of smart people. Before long, other smart people uncovered the deception, the articles were retracted and Surgisphere was permanently discredited. The Surgisphere scandal shows both the fallibility of the humans doing science and the ability of the scientific process to ultimately correct itself. It is not evidence of a global vaccine cartel.

There can be no question that in some cases pharmaceutical companies are able to steer both the direction of research and physician clinical choices (see Massachusetts gift ban legislation). But I am completely unable to step into RFK Jr.’s worldview. In his world, a few ruthless titans are pulling the strings for profit. I see a world in which a whole lot of mostly decent people with normal levels of self-interest are trying to do their jobs — to create medications and improve public health. People near the center of health policy decisions, like Dr. Fauci, have to sort out a lot of information and maintain awareness of the quality and motivations of their information sources.

Dr. Fauci is 81 years old. He has been well compensated for decades. It appears that he could retire any time to a federal pension equal to roughly 80% of his salary. It seems unlikely he is in his job for the money. Without putting him on a pedestal of infallibility, I trust him to exercise his judgment for the greater good. I expect his views to continue to evolve in good faith as the research accumulates and new virus behavior emerges.

For my summary responses to themes in these comments, please see this post. Comments were closed on this post on January 31.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

235 replies on ““The Real Anthony Fauci””

  1. You can listen to Will mumbling in defense of the Pfizer-Big Guv-Big Media axis or…scan the list presented below…and this is just the athletes! Keep your eyes open, like the NY Times editor, 47, dead last week within 48 hrs of his booster. But Pfizer would not lie, would they???? Fauci???? Please, given the well-documented presentation of Myocarditus+ Troponin bumps post vax, just admit you have no choice but to go along with the Big D program regardless of the adverse events.

    https://goodsciencing.com/covid/athletes-suffer-cardiac-arrest-die-after-covid-shot/

    1. Wow…I knew a lot of European footballers were having major issues…but did not know it was this many.

      1. Yup…funny how that works…Pfizer is the #1 advertiser/sponsor of the “news”, the deaths for sure don’t fit the Big Guv/NPR narrative and they just disappear! Think N Djokovic is stupid?

  2. Criticism like this of Anthony Fauci could only happen because of the lies and misinformation sown by a former president, and that former president was not Ronald Reagan, George Bush, George W Bush, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama. Guess who?

  3. Thank you Will for this enlightening and distressing book review….. Just more of the misinformation and conspiracy allegations. I am glad you are on top of this, and took the time to protect everyone’s well-being. Unfortunately, many people are convinced that some rights are without limit. We have a right to drive, but not on the wrong side of the street. We have a right to”bodily integrity,” but must have been vaccinated to attend school. We have a right to free speech, but cannot incite to insurrection or encourage attacks on others. One’s “right” to refuse the vaccine is a public health issue, which must be tempered by the common good. One does not have the right to take someone’s life by being a spreader. I’m sorry to see the American experiment hijacked by a false absolute individualism which ignores the common good. We as citizens have a Social Contract to take care of each other. Please people, no more distortions of the truth, no more personal attacks or degrading insults, no more “we” and “them”, no more extremist “convictions” not backed by the Truth.
    What ever happened to the UNITED States. We don’t have to agree. After all, we are a democracy, but all of us should be committed to the common good and the dignity of all.

  4. I wish I wrote the following, but somebody else wrote it in BH’s comments section.
    John • 2 days ago

    I will not inject my body for the sake of the collective.??
    ??
    I will not block my breathing for the sake of the collective.??
    ??
    I will not fundamentally alter my lifestyle to accommodate the irrational fears of the collective.??
    ??
    This is a philosophical battle between the individual and the collective.??
    ??
    Those who are scared can choose of their own volition to inject their body, block their breathing, stay inside, and avoid whatever they perceive to be dangerous, but they ?????????? ?????? demand or mandate these things for another.?
    ??
    The collective is not owed safety or protection at the expense of the individual.??
    ??
    The healthy are not obligated to sacrifice themselves to the sick.??
    ??
    The confident are not obligated to sacrifice themselves to the fearful.??
    ??
    The idea that the individual owes anything to the collective is a delusion.??
    ??
    The collective would not exist without the individual.??
    ??
    The freedom and choice of the individual must always supersede the preferences of the mob, when this principle is inverted societal destruction is inevitable.??
    ??
    Many people have been conditioned to believe this is an “unloving” or “selfish” perspective, while completely overlooking how unloving and selfish it is to demand an individual sacrifice their own well-being for the sake of the herd.??
    ??
    Upholding the right for an individual to choose for themselves is the most loving and honorable thing a society can do.??

  5. Woof this comment section is ROUGH.

    Anyway, thank you Senator for taking the time to push back on this book. Right now it’s critical to call out bad actors in positions of power that create and spread medical misinformation & distortions. It is also important to have compassion for the victims of those lies, which I think you do throughout this post and by choosing to engage thoughtfully with this problematic material in the first place.

    I do wonder though if there needs to be a larger legislative conversation about combatting medical misinformation? While there is always going to be fringe thoughts and conspiracies, I find it deeply concerning that in the US the guardrails around basics facts have come off. It has impacted our ability to address this pandemic, but I think it’s also worth noting that the same dismissals and counter narratives can be found in other public health crises (climate change & abortion access come to mind). RFK Jr. is not a rogue actor and is part of a much larger landscape. Not sure what a legislative solution might look like, but I think it’s clear something toxic is growing and we need disinfectant.

  6. Three important, late-breaking clips from two experts interviewed in Steve Bannon’s War Room Pandemic this morning; covering the science and the truth about Covid, the statistics and what we now know. The1st is Dr. Harvey Risch, MD, PhD, Epidemiologist, Yale, cold open intro of Rand Paul confronting Dr. Fauci yesterday with subsequent comments from Dr. Risch, re transparency and the rational approach we should follow: https://rumble.com/embed/vptr0h/?pub=7oprr The 2nd https://rumble.com/embed/vptrrz/?pub=7oprr & the 3rd clips https://rumble.com/embed/vptskl/?pub=7oprr from Dr. Steven Hatfill – Covid19 Pandemic Advisor to the Trump Administration – A summary on where we are now!!!

  7. Thank you, Will. I really appreciate you taking your time to share your thoughts on this and to engage people here and in your responses to these comments. Very helpful.

  8. Imagine a time in the near future in which a section of Republicans get their second American Civil War and develop their say, Confederacy . They should consider building a wall between themselves and the vaccinated that perhaps Mexico, or Stop the Steal believers or an enterprise of qAnon + Proud Boys + Insurrectionists will pay for? A disillusioned utopia in which they pray to a yankee, narcissistic, authoritarian golden god (television makeup) to fulfill their vision of a real democracy. A democracy that’s creed is to always put “I” over “We”. A democracy that believes Fauci is the devil, guns are glorious, and the individual is always more important than the collective.

    I wonder how this walled off section of Americans would fair without masks, without Covid vaccinations? Would their hospitals be over-crowded with covid infected people that symptoms are much more severe than compared with people on the other side of the wall that are fully vaccinated and wear masks? Would they experience far more covid related deaths and long-haulers for the sake of body-autocracy? Would their hospitals and medical facilities have any availability to deal with other illnesses and disease while being overwhelmed with dealing with Covid infected people that have higher incidences of more severe effects, longer hospital stays, higher death rates and more expensive care than the Covid vaccinated require?

    Personally, for now I’ll take my shots, I’ll wear a mask, I will hope that people will gravitate to a greater good. What will you do?

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