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Friday, June 14, 2024

Fauci’s ‘Don’t Blame Me’ Testimony and the Government Accountability Problem

Because it’s an institution that inherently rules by violence, a bureaucracy is rarely held accountable for its mistakes.

Image Credit: YouTube - ABC (screenshot)

Dr. Anthony Fauci was at the Capitol recently following revelations that his top adviser, Dr. David Morens, and other National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases officials took active steps to avoid Freedom of Information Act requests, including destroying records and intentionally misspelling names to avoid searches.

Fauci conceded that mistakes were made, just not by him.

“That was wrong and inappropriate and violated policy,” Fauci said of Morens’s scheme to “disappear” problematic emails. “He should not have done that.”

Fauci’s chief of staff was in on the scheme. Emails show that Gregory Folkers intentionally misspelled the name of Kristian Andersen, a tactic Morens suggested to avoid FOIA, after Andersen received an $8.9 million NIAID grant, which came two months after he authored a paper arguing that it was “improbable” that COVID-19 had a lab origin.

Lawmakers brought this to Fauci’s attention.

“I don’t have any role,” he said, “in FOIA.”

The fact that Fauci was running the department didn’t seem to bother him. Indeed, Fauci’s deflection of responsibility for anything was the primary theme of the hearings.

Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) pointed out that Fauci had pushed the destructive 6-feet social distancing policy, which he later admitted was “not based on science” and “just appeared.” Fauci was unfazed.

“It was a CDC decision,” said the man who led the White House COVID-19 Response Team.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) read emails between the Biden administration and Facebook related to the government’s sprawling COVID censorship effort, which included a pressure campaign on social media companies to remove lab leak-related content.

“Am I on those emails?” Fauci asked.

When Jordan asked about the effort to downplay the lab leak theory, Fauci denied any part of it.

“I’ve kept an open mind throughout the entire process,” he replied.

This last line was too much for some viewers. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald cited the exchange as proof that Fauci is “a pathological liar,” while Rutgers University professor Richard Ebright used the word perjury.

There’s a reason this claim riled up so many.

The New York Times recently ran an article pointing out that the COVID-19 pandemic likely started in a lab, a view also held by the FBI. Such an article would have been verboten in 2020 or 2021, and a big reason why was that a high-profile study published in Nature in March 2020 concluded: “SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”

Though he did not disclose it at the time, a trove of FOIA emails reveals that Fauci’s fingerprints are all over that study. The emails also show the authors privately believed that a lab leak was likely. Meanwhile, a perusing of articles from 2020 and 2021 and comical video evidence make it clear that Fauci’s claim that he was not “leaning totally strongly one way or another” in the origin debate is false.

Fauci has a history of these memory problems. When confronted in TV interviews in 2022 about the harms of school closures, a policy he supported numerous times, Fauci said don’t blame me.

“I had nothing to do [with it],” he told ABC’s Jonathan Karl.

He did the same thing with lockdowns.

“I didn’t recommend locking anything down,” Fauci told Newsweek editor Batya Ungar-Sargon in 2022.

Fauci apparently forgot that there was video evidence of him saying in October 2020, “I recommended to the president that we shut the country down.”

It’s quite amazing. Fauci’s testimony was like the hit 2000 song by Shaggy, “It Wasn’t Me.”

Though Democrats gushed over Fauci’s pandemic response — “Thank you for your science,” fawned Rep. Jill Tokuda (D-HI) — the only thing we really learned at the hearing was that Fauci wasn’t responsible for anything. Not the corruption at NIAID, the agency he led. Not the unscientific policies he may or may not have supported, depending on who’s asking.

The hearing was a four-hour reminder of the problem with putting politicians and bureaucrats in charge of people’s personal lives.

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions,” the economist Thomas Sowell said, “than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

It’s important to understand that unaccountability is a feature of bureaucracy, not a bug.

Because it’s an institution that inherently rules by violence, a bureaucracy is rarely held accountable for its mistakes — even catastrophic ones. This is in stark contrast to private companies, which face consequences if they make a mess of things.

In his testimony, Fauci said that the grant to EcoHealth Alliance, which funded research at the Chinese lab linked to COVID’s origin, wasn’t his fault because he couldn’t possibly review them all.

“Your name is on every single grant,” Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) said. “Yet you absolve yourself of any sort of responsibility.”

There’s a Kafkaesque cost of such governance, and few have described it better than David Mamet.

“When the experts blow it,” the Oscar-nominated playwright wrote in 2020, “everyone else pays.”

This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.


  • Jonathan Miltimore is the Senior Creative Strategist of FEE.org at the Foundation for Economic Education.