Nets Defends Fauci From GOP in ‘Emotional’, ‘Fiery’, ‘Testy’ Hearing on COVID-19

ABC, CBS, and NBC were not only exhausting airtime fawning over and spinning for Hunter Biden as his first criminal trial got underway, but also rallying around Dr. Tony Fauci on Monday night and Tuesday morning over the “contentious”, “heated” and “hostile” House hearing he endured on the COVID-19 pandemic response that left him “defiant” yet “emotional” over “the threats” posed by critics.

Like with their defenses of Hunter and eagerness toward the Trump trial, ABC was the most defensive of Fauci. On Monday’s World News Tonight, anchor David Muir teased “the heated testimony” with “Fauci turning deeply emotional when revealing the death threats against his family.”

There it is. Equate criticism of liberals — one who crippled lives and kept families from saying goodbye to loved ones — with threats from crockpots to malign and shutdown debate.

Tossing to correspondent Elizabeth Schulze, Muir said there were “fireworks on Capitol Hill” with “hostile questioning” for poor Tony as he became “deeply emotional”.

“Tonight, in a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci choking up as he described death threats against his family,” Schulze began.

Having set the table with that and soundbites of Fauci haltingly discussing the threats that “involved my wife and my three daughters”, Schulze paired that with him sadly having to protect “his record as the face of the nation’s pandemic response, facing hostile questions over policies like social distancing and masks.”

“But Fauci defiant, rejecting unfounded GOP accusations he helped fund research that caused the COVID pandemic and covered up a theory the virus may have originated in a lab in China,” she added.

Schulze returned for Tuesday’s Good Morning America and rehashed this sympathetic image of Fauci being maligned with “unfounded allegations” (click “expand”):

SCHULZE: [T]his is the first time Dr. Fauci publicly testified before lawmakers since he stepped away from the federal government back in 2022. It was a contentious, nearly four-hour hearing, with some Republicans grilling him about COVID’s origins and Democrats defending his public service. This morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci back in the spotlight after fiery, emotional testimony on Capitol Hill. Fauci choking up as he described death threats against his family.

FAUCI: It is very troublesome to me. It is much more troublesome because they have involved my wife and my three daughters.

(….)

SCHULZE: Fauci was grilled by House Republicans over policies he endorsed at the helm of the federal response to the COVID pandemic like social distancing and masks for children. More than one million Americans died from COVID. Fauci defending restrictions put in place at the start.

(….)

SCHULZE: He rejected unfounded allegations from GOP lawmakers.

FAUCI: I keep an open mind that it could be either a laboratory leak or it could be what I think the data is leaning towards mostly, which is a natural occurrence from an animal reservoir.

SCHULZE: But the hearing descended into chaos when Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green launched a series of verbal attacks. Overnight, Fauci responding to reports that a January 6th defendant was sitting behind him before being removed from the hearing.

Monday’s NBC Nightly News also had a full segment with anchor Lester Holt gushing about Fauci “hitting back” during a “combative day” of “Republican attacks over his handling of Covid”.

Capitol Hill correspondent Ali Vitali similarly stacked the deck by painting Fauci as “in the hot seat” but conceded a number of tense moments were over his admission in a closed door hearing that the infamous six-feet rule “sort of just appeared”.

Along with noting “Fauci den[ied] he downplayed the possibility of a leak from Wuhan, China”, Vitali made sure to say Fauci was “emotional talking about the threats he and his family still face.”

NBC’s Today featured co-host Craig Melvin and senior Washington correspondent Hallie Jackson picking up the Fauci pom-poms to defend him against criticism, merely relaying the concerns while all these years later still, treating Fauci’s answers as gospel (click “expand”):

MELVIN: Tensions running high on Capitol Hill yesterday. Dr. Anthony Fauci testifying on the government’s response to the pandemic and hitting back at Republican lawmakers who claim Fauci tried to cover up the origins of Covid-19. NBC’s senior Washington correspondent, Hallie Jackson has that story for us. Hallie, good morning.

JACKSON: Hey Craig, good morning to you. We’re talking about a high-profile moment for one of the pandemic’s most high profile figures with Dr. Anthony Fauci saying if health officials had done nothing during the pandemic, which killed more than a million Americans, then nearly a million more may have died. Many Republicans blasting the doctor for what they see as his missteps and many Democrats coming to his defense. Dr. Anthony Fauci on defense.

FAUCI: When you’re dealing with a new outbreak, things change.

JACKSON: And dismissing claims he played any part in a suggested cover-up of COVID origins.

FAUCI: The accusation being circulated — [SCREEN WIPE] — is absolutely false and simply preposterous.

JACKSON: The doctor, who retired 18 months ago, back in the spotlight as part of a Republican-led investigation into the pandemic’s origins and response. A hearing at times turning testy.

(….)

JACKSON: Fauci explaining what he meant when he testified behind closed doors in January that the six foot social distancing rule “sort of just appeared”, according to transcripts, now clarifying it came from the CDC with no clinical trials done.

(….)

JACKSON: [H]e’s become politically polarizing, alternately idolized or demonized. Overnight Fauci saying the vitriol he faces, including on Capitol Hill, means he still gets death threats, even while out of government service.

FAUCI [on CNN’s The Source with Kaitlan Collins, 06/03/24]: You have performances like that, unusual performance by Marjorie Taylor Greene in today’s hearing, those are the kind of things that drive up the death threats.

JACKSON: Testifying emotionally, now, about the death threats his family has faced.

(….)

JACKSON: As for how prepared we are for the next pandemic, Dr. Fauci thinks in some respects we are better equipped to deal with one but says he’s disappointed in other areas from the Covid pandemic. Like the divisiveness over a coherent response.

As for CBS, they only a short segment on Monday’s CBS Evening News and a news brief on Tuesday’s CBS Mornings.

On the former, anchor Norah O’Donnell declared “Fauci was grilled for more than three hours by Republican lawmakers” in “a heated hearing” and congressional correspondent Nikole Killion boasted “Fauci called GOP claims that he covered up information about the Coronavirus simply preposterous” as the hearing “devolved into attacks”.

“Dr. Fauci also got emotional about some of the death threats he’s received,” she added.

The latter sucked up to Fauci with featured co-host Vladimir Duthiers bemoaning Fauci went before a House committee “to be accused of a series of crimes by Republican lawmakers who had no evidence to back up their claims.”

“Fauci denied allegations that he helped cover up a theory that the virus began in a Chinese laboratory and that his office directly funded Chinese research…Fauci called the accusations absolutely false and simply preposterous. He said he kept an open mind,” Duthiers insisted before a Fauci soundbite and a conclusion that the GOP “has spent more than a year investigating” the virus’s origins.

Many thanks to NewsBusters interns Sarah Butler, Mary Clare Waldron, and Michael Wnek for their help compiling the transcripts.

To see the relevant transcripts from June 3, click here (for ABC), here (for CBS), and here (for NBC). To see the relevant transcripts from June 4, click here (for ABC), here (for CBS), and here (for NBC).

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