Fauci, a top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that the televised news conferences with President Donald Trump are “important,” but a time-suck. (See the video below.)
“The downtime that we have there is really draining,” Fauci told The Associated Press in the clip. He described the waiting around, the preparation, the lengthy briefings themselves and the late hours he’s been keeping to perform other aspects of his job.
“Being there, to be able to answer the questions of the media, I think is really important,” Fauci said. “Because we’re going through a real public health crisis in our country.”
Fauci did not appear at Tuesday’s briefing. Monday’s nearly 2 1/2-hour session featured Trump blasting reporters and showing a video montage suggesting he took forceful action on the approaching pandemic while the media downplayed it. Many of the briefings have run for hours.
“If I had been able to just make a few comments and then go to work, that would have really been much better,” Fauci said. “It’s the downtime. It isn’t the idea of being there and answering questions, which I really think is important.”
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has often corrected Trump’s false or rosy statements. He’s tempered the president’s urgency to restart the economy and his promotion of an old malaria drug as a coronavirus treatment.
Fauci also angered some conservatives over the weekend by telling CNN that the mortality rate could have been reduced if the government had acted sooner with social distancing guidelines and other measures to slow the pandemic.
Trump later raised eyebrows by retweeting a #FireFauci message that circulated on social media. But the next day, Trump said he won’t Fauci and called him “a wonderful guy.”
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