Fact check: Fauci is not making millions from upcoming National Geographic book

The claim: Dr. Anthony Fauci will make millions from an upcoming book about public service

Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing criticism on social media platforms for purportedly making millions of dollars from a new book about lessons he learned in public service amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In mid-May, Publishers Lunch announced the release of a book titled “Expect the Unexpected: Ten Lessons on Truth, Service, and the Way Forward.” The book is scheduled for publication Nov. 2 and was developed by National Geographic Books.

Some conservative activists say Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is cashing in on the book.

“Tony Fauci will make millions off of a new book about ‘Truth’ while Americans continue to suffer because of his endless stream of lies over the past year,” Charlie Kirk, founder of the nonprofit Turning Point USA, wrote in a June 1 tweet with more than 6,600 likes. “The highest-paid employee of the federal government is set to profit even more off this pandemic. What a disgrace.” 

The claim comes after the release of thousands of emails sent to and from Fauci during the early months of the pandemic. The messages from Fauci’s inbox, obtained by the Washington Post and BuzzFeed News through Freedom of Information Act requests, were widely mischaracterized on social media. 

Fact check: Missing context in claim about emails, Fauci’s position on masks

Kirk’s claim has made its way to Facebook, where social media users have shared a screenshot of the tweet. USA TODAY reached out to Kirk and the Facebook users for comment. 

As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Fauci is the highest-paid federal employee. However, he will not profit from the upcoming book; the publisher says earnings will go to the National Geographic Society. Fauci is listed as the book’s author, but National Geographic told USA TODAY he did not write anything for it.

Publisher says Fauci is not making money from book

National Geographic spokesman Chris Albert told USA TODAY that Fauci “will not earn any royalties” from the book’s publication or an upcoming documentary film about him. 

“Nat Geo drew from interviews and speeches delivered by Dr. Fauci for the book. He did not write anything for it,” Albert said via email.

On June 1, the 80-page book was posted for pre-sale at $18 and later taken down by Amazon and Barnes & Noble, according to Deadline. Albert said the book was removed because it was posted prematurely. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, responds to a question from Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, during a House Select Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2021, on the coronavirus crisis. (Photo: Susan Walsh, AP)

National Geographic Books spokeswoman Ann Day told The New York Times that earnings from the book will “go back to the National Geographic Society to fund work in the areas of science, exploration conservation and education and to reinvest in content.” 

An overview of the book says it was compiled from “hours of interviews” and offers “an intimate view of one of the world’s greatest medical minds as well as universal advice to live by.” 

Our rating: False

The claim that Fauci will make millions from an upcoming book about public service is FALSE, based on our research. National Geographic Books said Fauci will not profit from the book’s publication or its related documentary. Earnings will go to the National Geographic Society. Additionally, Fauci did not write the book — it was compiled from speeches and interviews.

Our fact-check sources: 

  • The New York Times, June 11, No, Fauci is not profiting from a coming book on lessons he’s learned from his public service.
  • Chris Albert, June 12, Email exchange with USA TODAY
  • Publishers Lunch, May 17, Buzz Books Fall/Winter Preview: Nonfiction Part 1
  • Deadline, June 2, Dr. Anthony Fauci Book Scrubbed From Amazon, Barnes & Noble After Premature Posts
  • Google Books, November 2021, Expect the Unexpected: Ten Lessons on Truth, Service, and the Way Forward

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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