Trump Sticks by His Losing Message: Fauci and the Scientists Are “Idiots”

Two weeks before the election, the anti-science president refuses to ditch the themes that have imperiled his campaign.

Ringo Chiu/ZUMA

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As the country enters the third and possibly largest coronavirus surge, Donald Trump is clinging to a message that’s been viewed as a critical factor behind his increasingly imperiled reelection chances.

Fauci is a disaster,” Trump said on Monday, referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading expert on infectious diseases, during a reported phone call with his campaign team. “If I listened to him, we’d have 500,000 deaths.” He then proceeded, according to CNN’s Kaitlin Collins, to defiantly instruct any reporters who may be listening on the call to “have it just the way I said it,” adding that he “couldn’t care less” if his newest attacks on Fauci were made public. “People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” Trump said at another point.

The resoundingly anti-science, anti-reality remarks—public health experts, including Fauci, agree that the death toll in the United States could have been reduced with more robust, earlier action—come a day after the president, in a strange effort to mock Joe Biden, warned that if elected, Biden would adhere to the advice of the scientific community. “He’ll listen to the scientists,” Trump warned at a Nevada rally on Sunday, apparently referring to comments Biden made in an August interview with ABC News. “If I listened to the scientists, we’d have a country in a massive depression.”

The bizarre warning, coupled with his refusal to ditch some of the worst themes of his pandemic response, is likely to have the unintended effect of boosting his Democratic challenger. It’s also all but certain to fuel ongoing attacks against Fauci. Hours after the rally on Sunday, 60 Minutes featured a new interview during which Fauci detailed death threats he’d received. 

Shortly after the staff call, Trump on Monday continued to blast Fauci—insulting both his coronavirus expertise and baseball prowess—on Twitter:

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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