Dr. Anthony Fauci taught CNN — and America — a lesson in four words:
“Let’s get real here.”
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci has become one of the most recognizable men in the country during the coronavirus crisis — bringing his brand of knowledge and confident authority to bear at presidential news conferences televised around the world.
And Sunday’s “State of the Nation” interview was no different when he was confronted by CNN anchor Brianna Keilar with a picture of himself standing alongside President Donald Trump at the news conference Friday where Trump declared a national state of emergency to deal with the virus.
Trump has been tested for the coronavirus, Keilar said. Shouldn’t Fauci be tested, too?
“You actually touched the same podium, I’m sure you’ve seen this, and microphone as the president and other CEOs,” Keilar said.
“Have you taken a test? Are you going to take a test?”
The question was directed at Fauci, but, given CNN’s disgraceful behavior since the Trump administration began, it’s hard not to see it as yet another implicit attempt to discredit Trump.
Fauci’s answer was a masterful combination of clinical competence and evident exasperation.
“I’m not taking a test for several reasons. I have no symptoms. I’m practicing pretty good social distancing,” Fauci said (seated a noticeable distance from Keilar on the set).
“Not everybody in the United States should take a test. I mean, I have no symptoms. There’s no reason for me to take a test. If I’m in a situation where I’m at a higher risk, I will take a test.”
Then he got to the subject of the “gotcha” photo CNN evidently hoped to use to embarrass Fauci, and, by extension, the Trump administration.
“The picture you showed about the microphone. Let’s get real here. I mean, there are certain things that you have to do,” Fauci said.
“If I left the microphone like that” – he put his hand over his face – “you would see nothing but the microphone. My putting my two fingers to get the microphone down isn’t that bad, so I don’t think we should make something of that.
“I’d like to see people more doing this” — he gestured with his elbow — “as opposed to shaking hands.”
The apparent attempt to make Fauci look foolish did not go over well with social media viewers.
Fauci might have dashed CNN’s hopes of an embarrassing moment caught on camera, but the disease expert’s message was clear: Obviously the country is living through a crisis, but common sense should still prevail.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the No. 1 way to prevent infection from the coronavirus is frequent hand-washing.
It’s a good bet that those who live in the White House — such as the famously germaphobic Trump — or frequent it as part of their official duties — such as Fauci — or who end up there because of the nature of their jobs – such as major CEOs – are a hand-washing bunch.
What Fauci and the government are urging on Americans is increased attention to personal hygiene and avoidance of crowds where the possibility of infection grows with every person. What no one is urging is that Americans simply stop living their lives.
Or, as Fauci put it, “there are certain things you have to do.”
It’s not a time for CNN to play its anti-Trump games. It’s not a time for political attacks on the administration masquerading as journalism.
It’s time to take the lesson Fauci was really teaching in four words that are so easy to understand that not even CNN’s Trump-hating Jeff Zucker could fail to get it.
“Let’s get real here.”