Fauci: White House controls when I speak to media

In his bluntest interview yet, Dr. Anthony Fauci confirmed Sunday that the White House has been controlling when he can speak to the media during the pandemic, the latest example of rising tensions between President Donald Trump and the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

Fauci sat down to speak on “60 Minutes,” in which he spoke more candidly than in the past about his growing frustration around President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 response and getting involuntarily caught up in politics.

“During this pandemic, has the White House been controlling when you can speak with the media?” Dr. Jon LaPook, CBS News chief medical correspondent, asked the doctor.

“You know, I think I’d have to be honest and say yes,” answered Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force. “I certainly have not been allowed to go on many, many, many shows that have asked for me.”

LaPook then called Fauci “one of the most trusted voices in America” who, in a time of much-needed transparency of information, is barred from speaking to the public.

“You know I think there has been a restriction, Jon, but … it isn’t consistent,” Fauci said.

The comments come about a week after ABC’s “This Week” host Jon Karl said that the White House refused to allow Fauci on the show despite the doctor being willing to appear. At least two other networks ― CBS and NBC ― also tried and failed to book Fauci for their respective Sunday morning political talk shows that week.

41 PHOTOSDr. Anthony Fauci in 2020See GalleryDr. Anthony Fauci in 2020Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, listens during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)In this September 2020 photo provided by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, shows a bandage on his arm after receiving an influenza vaccine to kick-off the 2020-2021 flu season with the NFID in Bethesda, Md. (NFID via AP)Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, testifies during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, center, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), right, and Adm. Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Health, left, testify during a House Subcommittee hearing on the Coronavirus crisis, Friday, July 31, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington.(Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)President Donald Trump speaks, accompanied by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, left, and Vice President Mike Pence about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)UNSPECIFIED – SEPTEMBER 22: In this screengrab Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during the CITIZEN by CNN 2020 Conference on September 22, 2020 in UNSPECIFIED, United States. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images for CNN)WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 23: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases throws out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 23: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reacts after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, looks on during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on June 30, 2020. – Fauci and other government health officials updated the Senate on how to safely get back to school and the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Al Drago / various sources / AFP) (Photo by AL DRAGO/AFP via Getty Images)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence listens. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence listens. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, smile as they decide who is going to answer a question during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, listens during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence listens. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)FARCHIVO – Foto de archivo, 1 de abril de 2020, del doctor Anthony Fauci, miembro de la comisión de lucha contra el coronavirus de la Casa Blanca, en conferencia de prensa. National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum de Milwaukee anunció el jueves 2 de abril de 2020 la creación de un muñeco cabezón de Fauci.(AP Foto/Alex Brandon File)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens as President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on the coronavirus on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, March 30, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, takes the podium to speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, March 30, 2020, in Washington, as President Donald Trump listens. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, right, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attends a coronavirus task force briefing with President Donald Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House, Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room, Friday, March 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speak during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listen during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, listens during a briefing on coronavirus in the Brady press briefing room at the White House, Saturday, March 14, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)President Donald Trump adjusts the microphone for Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a news conference about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, fourth from left, walks with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, sixth from left, and others, to an elevator on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March, 12, 2020, after briefing members of Congress on the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 12, 2020, in between briefings on the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Dr. Anthony Fauci is interviewed by television journalist Kristen Welker of NBC News on the North Lawn at the White House, Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)Dr. Anthony Fauci, left, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Oversight Committee hearing on preparedness for and response to the coronavirus outbreak on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. Sitting alongside Fauci is Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Oversight Committee hearing on preparedness for and response to the coronavirus outbreak on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, March, 10, 2020, about the coronavirus outbreak as Vice President Mike Pence, second from left gestures to a display. Also on stage from left are U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Pence, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow, Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Seema Verma, and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci, left, and White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, attend President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force briefing in the Brady press briefing room of the White House, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)El médico Anthony Fauci, director del Instituto Nacional de Enfermedades Alérgicas e Infecciosas de Estados Unidos, habla con el presidente Donald Trump, el martes 3 de marzo de 2020, en Bethesda, Maryland. (AP Foto/Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump listens to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a briefing on the coronavirus at the National Institutes of Health, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, left, President Donald Trump, center, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar leave a briefing on the coronavirus at the National Institutes of Health, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, in Bethesda, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)Up Next

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White House communications director Alyssa Farah tweeted Sunday that Karl’s allegations were false and that Fauci appeared on several TV news shows earlier in the week. She also said that Karl never requested another member of the coronavirus task force in Fauci’s place.

But Karl pushed back, tweeting that Farah was “not telling the truth” and attaching an image of an email he allegedly sent her asking if Vice President Mike Pence, Dr. Deborah Birx or several other public health officials would appear on the show if Fauci were unavailable.

“The truth matters,” the host wrote to Farah. “The requests for Dr. Fauci and the other members of the task force were made directly to you ― multiple times.”

Fauci, who is notoriously apolitical, has been growing more visibly frustrated as the president continues to undermine him and other public health experts on safety protocols and potential treatments throughout the pandemic ― even after the president himself tested positive for the virus following multiple superspreader events.

The Trump campaign released a new ad last week featuring what appeared to be Fauci praising Trump’s response to the pandemic. The ad features a video clip of an interview the doctor gave on Fox News in March, when the pandemic was beginning to lead to lockdowns across the country.

“I can’t imagine that … anybody could be doing more,” Fauci is heard saying right after the video’s narrator praises the president’s response to the pandemic. The doctor said his words were taken out of context ― which he reiterated in Sunday’s interview ― and demanded the ad be taken down, but the Trump campaign continued to run it in key battleground states.

“I do not and nor will I ever publicly endorse any political candidate. And here I am, they’re sticking me right in the middle of a campaign ad, which I thought was outrageous,” Fauci said. “I was referring to something entirely different. I was referring to the grueling work of the task force that, ‘God, we were knocking ourselves out seven days a week. I don’t think we could have possibly have done any more than that.’”

“Did the steam start to come out of your ears?” LaPook asked the doctor.

“It did, quite frankly,” Fauci answered. “I got really ticked off.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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