Fox News host Tucker Carlson took aim at Dr. Anthony Fauci on Tuesday night, unleashing a furious tirade against the top infectious disease expert, whom he called the “chief buffoon.”
Piggybacking on Sen. Rand Paul’s criticism of Fauci at Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the coronavirus pandemic, Carlson said the Republican lawmaker was right to complain about experts’ predictions about the virus.
“A lot of wrong predictions have come out of Washington on the question of the coronavirus, and quite a few of them came directly from Dr. Fauci himself. We are not singling him out or attacking him,” the Fox News star declared before devoting the next few minutes to directly attacking the White House coronavirus task force member.
Carlson proceeded to point out some of the positions Fauci has shifted on throughout the crisis, such as on face masks. After playing a clip of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease director saying in March that “there’s no reason for people to be walking around in a mask” at that time, Carlson appeared to liken Fauci to a false messiah.
“This might be painful for some people, it’s kind of like learning a religion is fake,” he said. “But this religion is fake! It shouldn’t be a religion in the first place. It’s supposed to be science. You are supposed to admit when you are wrong and you are supposed to be totally transparent with your reasoning.”
The conservative host also aired a Jan. 21 interview of Fauci and claimed that Fauci at the time was telling Americans the virus was nothing to worry about. In the interview, Fauci said that “we need to take it seriously” but that “this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about.” (The first confirmed case of the virus had just been documented in the United States at the time.)
The primetime host also took issue with Fauci encouraging people last month to refrain from shaking hands, ridiculing the doctor for purportedly claiming that it was also fine to hook up for casual sex during the pandemic. (Fauci actually said people should weigh the risks and should postpone hooking up if they “don’t want to have any part of this virus.”)
“This is buffoon-level stuff at that point and we are not doing this to mock the guy,” Carlson said. “I mean anyone who talks as much as Anthony Fauci does is apt to say some stupid things.”
Grousing that “some people think that he should be dictator for the duration of this crisis,” Carlson complained that Fauci—a public health expert—hasn’t been elected to anything and that the American people haven’t had any say in picking him.
Carlson later brought on conservative activist Ned Ryun to criticize Fauci some more. During their conversation, in which Ryun repeatedly questioned why Fauci was still serving in his role, Carlson got in one last shot at the infectious disease expert.
“Now we’re finding, this golden calf of the administrative state is ringing hollow, and Fauci, to be very blunt, is the face of this failed administrative state. You have to question the entire premise of this!” Ryun bellowed.
“The chief buffoon of the professional class,” said Carlson, who’s been credited with pushing the president to finally take the pandemic seriously.
Shortly after gunning for Fauci, Carlson received some pushback from Republicans. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the No. 3 Republican in the House, tweeted out an endorsement of Fauci.
“Dr. Fauci is one of the finest public servants we have ever had,” she wrote. “He is not a partisan. His only interest is saving lives. We need his expertise and his judgment to defeat this virus. All Americans should be thanking him. Every day.”
Carlson and other conservatives have become increasingly critical of the coronavirus task force expert in recent weeks, especially as Fauci has urged caution on reopening the economy amid a pandemic that’s now killed more than 82,000 Americans. Last month, as right-wing furor over Fauci grew after the doctor acknowledged that more lives would have been saved if “we started mitigation earlier,” Trump shared a tweet containing the hashtag #FireFauci.