During an appearance on the Fox News program Sunday Morning Futures with host Maria Bartiromo over the weekend, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) went on a truly bizarre screed against Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, blaming the top public health official and a selection of others for the hundreds of thousands of deaths that the United States has suffered throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Sure, Donald Trump was, until not too long ago, the president of the United States — but somehow, Johnson has settled upon apparently absolving Trump of essentially all responsibility for what happened in the United States while he was in charge.
Fauci — not to mention the media, which Johnson also somehow blamed for the devastating toll of COVID-19 in the United States — hardly even has any direct control over public policy relating to responding to the pandemic. Besides his work on efforts like the development of vaccines, he’s an adviser to the president. Republican attacks on Fauci often seem to ascribe far more power to him than he actually possesses — and if they can’t even get the basic facts right regarding the organizational structure of the government, why should observers take them seriously?
Johnson issued his remarks against Fauci (and others) in the context of a discussion of supposedly effective treatments for COVID-19 that have supposedly been suppressed. The Senator ranted as follows:
‘We all know that Dr. Fauci — he’s not a modest man. If you question what he did, apparently you’re questioning science itself. But you can’t look at how he stage-managed the COVID crisis and call it anywhere close to a success. 600,000 people died. Trillions of dollars of economic devastation. He ignored early treatment. He probably helped sabotage the use of some of these things, and you have to understand that Dr. Fauci, people in the health agencies, the media, the social media — they will never admit they were wrong on this, because if they do, they’re gonna have to admit that literally hundreds of thousands of people didn’t have to lose their lives, but for their censorship, their arrogance, and Dr. Fauci’s mismanagement.’
Fauci wasn’t the “stage manager” of the pandemic, and ascribing responsibility to him for the deaths of “literally hundreds of thousands of people” is just bonkers, with no meaningful relationship to reality. What about the actions of the then-president of the United States, Donald Trump? Trump has spent basically the entire pandemic downplaying its impacts. He resisted pleas to issue additional calls for Americans to stay home as much as possible. He (for the most part) refused to promote wearing face masks. He declined to more aggressively utilize the Defense Production Act to compel the creation of necessary supplies. All of these issues — rather than Johnson’s conspiratorial babbling — constitute the reality.