Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been blocked “from some appearances that he has requested to do in recent weeks,” according to officials briefed on the matter.
White House advisers reportedly believe that Fauci sometimes struggles to stay “on message,” allowing journalists to “goad” him into criticizing Trump’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has reportedly lost interest in dealing with the pandemic, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to handle the issue. The commander-in-chief allegedly no longer even participates in calls with governors grappling to deal with the unprecedented public health crisis.
Instead, the report stated, Trump is focused on his reelection campaign and issues pertaining to the economy. Although Fauci has apparently been sidelined from appearing on television, White House advisers focused on economic issues “have been given a more prominent public role.”
In recent weeks, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow and trade adviser Peter Navarro have appeared on a number of popular news programs, echoing Trump’s optimistic economic message and using their platform to “provide false assurances that the recent surges are under control,” according to the report.
Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has reportedly been given an even more prominent role in the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to officials briefed on the matter, Kushner and his team have come up with a plan to deploy Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the administration’s coronavirus response, to hard-hit states.
In places where the number of COVID-19 cases is surging, both Birx and Fauci will reportedly be allowed to appear on regional television stations. An official briefed on the situation said that Birx will also be tasked with collecting information in critical states.
Some believe that Trump and his allies have “struggled to put forward a consistent message about the pandemic,” ignoring recommendations and advice from public health experts.
For instance, prior to Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s BOK Center last week, members of his campaign reportedly removed nearly 12,000 stickers intended to encourage social distancing.
“They’re creating a cognitive dissonance in the country. It’s more than them being asleep at the wheel. They’re confusing people at this point when we need to be united,” one former administration official said.
According to former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration Scott Gottlieb, the pandemic will get worse unless the government takes action.
“It’s going to continue to spread until you do something to intervene. I’m not sure we are taking enough forceful action to break the trend right now,” Gottlieb said.