Elon Musk targets Dr. Anthony Fauci in viral tweet, drawing backlash

As Dr. Anthony Fauci prepares to step down as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on the finish of the year, the main immunologist confronted derision on social media over the weekend from tech billionaire and Twitter CEO Elon Musk.

“My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” Musk tweeted on Sunday. The jibe, shared largely with out context, drew help from outstanding conservatives similar to right-wing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — whose account was reinstated with Musk’s resolution to finish the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation coverage final month, and who has been criticized in the previous for her personal feedback mocking using gender pronouns — in addition to backlash.

While Musk’s tweet acquired roughly half one million likes in its first few hours on-line, well being consultants like Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist and virology professor, defended Fauci’s work on the forefront of U.S. pandemic mitigation efforts and urged Musk to take away the put up.

“For the record: Dr. Fauci has done nothing wrong, except serve our nation. In the meantime, Mr. Musk should know that 200,000 Americans needlessly lost their lives from Covid due to this kind of antiscience rhetoric and disinformation. Elon, I’m asking you to take down this Tweet,” Hotez wrote. Musk has not responded publicly.

Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat from Minnesota, additionally called out Musk for concentrating on Fauci.

“It’s America. You can select any pronouns you damn well please,” the congressman tweeted. “But Anthony Fauci has likely saved more human lives than any living person in the world. Shame on you.”

About an hour earlier than posting the tweet about Fauci, Musk shared a meme with a caption that learn in half, “Just one more lockdown,” which could possibly be interpreted as an allusion to Fauci’s advocacy for security mandates that public well being specialists, together with these on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agreed have been useful in slowing the unfold of COVID-19 earlier than vaccines turned extensively out there.

Since he turned one of many main figures in the battle in opposition to the pandemic in early 2020, Fauci was hailed as a hero by some however condemned by others for his suggestions supporting social distancing, using face masks and vaccinations to guard in opposition to COVID-19. He notably clashed with former President Donald Trump, and Fauci spoke out in opposition to rising misinformation and disinformation about mitigation insurance policies and the virus itself. Recalling Trump’s false statements about COVID-19 whereas in office, Fauci mentioned in a brand new interview with CNN that he felt he “had to” publicly disagree with the then-president regardless of his discomfort.

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies at a House price range listening to on Capitol Hill, May 11, 2022. 

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc by way of Getty Images

“I have such a great deal of respect for the office of the presidency that it just made me very uncomfortable, but I had to do it… because I couldn’t stand there and be complicit in saying hydroxychloroquine works when it doesn’t, you know. ‘Bleach works.’ It doesn’t. ‘The virus is going to go away like magic.’ It’s not,” he mentioned.

In an interview with CBS News’ Michelle Miller final month, Fauci mentioned he by no means anticipated science to change into so politicized, making him into “the boogeyman of the far right.” He even acquired dying threats for his work.

“We are living now in an era, I believe, where there is so much distortion of reality, conspiracy theory and untruths,” he mentioned.

Dr. Anthony Fauci on what’s subsequent for his career


Twitter has undergone a variety of modifications since Musk bought the company this fall and pledged to revive “free speech” on the platform. His modifications concerned mass layoffs that reduce Twitter employees previously in cost of content material moderation, the reinstatement of accounts that have been beforehand banned for violating Twitter’s conduct guidelines, the discharge of purported knowledge claiming to disclose the positioning’s “blacklists,” which he calls the Twitter Files, and the elimination of its COVID misinformation coverage. 

Musk’s takeover has triggered the exits of some celebrities and different massive accounts from Twitter, amid accusations that he’s empowering far-right actors and as analysis factors to a big spike in hate speech on the platform, particularly concentrating on marginalized teams, in accordance The New York Times.

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