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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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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