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

As Dr. Anthony Fauci prepares to step down as director of the Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Ailments on the finish of the yr, 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 distinguished conservatives corresponding 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 up to now for her personal feedback mocking using gender pronouns — in addition to backlash.

Whereas 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 publish.

“For the file: Dr. Fauci has achieved nothing unsuitable, besides serve our nation. Within the meantime, Mr. Musk ought to know that 200,000 Individuals needlessly misplaced their lives from Covid resulting from this sort of antiscience rhetoric and disinformation. Elon, I am 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 focusing on Fauci.

“It is America. You possibly can choose any pronouns you rattling nicely please,” the congressman tweeted. “However Anthony Fauci has seemingly saved extra human lives than any dwelling particular person on the earth. Disgrace on you.”

About an hour earlier than posting the tweet about Fauci, Musk shared a meme with a caption that learn partly, “Only one extra lockdown,” which might be interpreted as an allusion to Fauci’s advocacy for security mandates that public well being specialists, together with these on the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, agreed had been useful in slowing the unfold of COVID-19 earlier than vaccines grew to become broadly out there.

Since he grew to become one of many main figures within the struggle 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 workplace, Fauci mentioned in a brand new interview with CNN that he felt he “needed to” publicly disagree with the then-president regardless of his discomfort.

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Ailments, testifies at a Home finances listening to on Capitol Hill, Could 11, 2022. 

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Name, Inc through Getty Pictures

“I’ve such a substantial amount of respect for the workplace of the presidency that it simply made me very uncomfortable, however I needed to do it… as a result of I could not stand there and be complicit in saying hydroxychloroquine works when it would not, . ‘Bleach works.’ It would not. ‘The virus goes to go away like magic.’ It isn’t,” he mentioned.

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

“We live now in an period, I imagine, the place there’s a lot distortion of actuality, conspiracy concept and untruths,” he mentioned.

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


Twitter has undergone numerous modifications since Musk bought the corporate this fall and pledged to revive “free speech” on the platform. His modifications concerned mass layoffs that reduce Twitter workers previously accountable for content material moderation, the reinstatement of accounts that had 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 Recordsdata, and the removing 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 major spike in hate speech on the platform, particularly focusing on marginalized teams, in accordance The New York Instances.

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