Colbert and Fauci Come Together To Attack ‘Hostility’ From Trump, GOP

News & Politics

CBS’s Stephen Colbert welcomed former NIH Director Anthony Fauci to Monday’s edition of The Late Show to promote his new book, to look back at the COVID-19 pandemic, and lament “the politicization of science” and the “hostility” he has received from Republicans. Naturally, there was no self-reflection on Fauci’s part, nor was Colbert willing to go there.

Colbert lamented, “Politicization of science is dangerous, but it’s not a new thing. This has happened in the past. You’ve dealt with it in the past. Have you seen anything like the way it is now? Because certainly just a few days ago, your testimony down in Washington, D.C., made headlines for the hostility you received.”

He then wondered, “even for your long and storied career and being involved with all these politicians, does this seem like something new to you?”

Fauci described current times as “Quite new and disturbing,” as contrasted with “for almost 40 years, in the beginning there was always politics, you know. People of different ideology. There was center, center-left, center-right. They disagreed and they sometimes would argue with each other but at the end of the day, there was civility and respect for each other. What we’re saying now is what you had mentioned, Stephen, it’s vitriol and pure hostility… Now it’s pure attack, which is totally, it’s just, I believe it’s a reflection of the profound degree of divisiveness in the country which is very destructive.”

Later, Colbert turned to the chapter “on Donald Trump called ‘He loves me, he loves me not’ and wondered, “Why that title for the chapter?”

Fauci recalled that he and Trump got along well in the beginning, but:

It was only when what he was saying and began to say, because he wanted so much for this thing to go away, that he was saying things that were incorrect and I felt strongly, though it was not comfortable for me to do it, although the people who attack me think I did it to sort of tear him down, it was not because I have a great deal of respect for the presidency of the United States that I had to contradict him publicly because he was saying things that were not correct. Once that happens, then both he and mostly his staff, not so much the president, but the staff, I became, you know, anathema, persona non grata.

After Colbert added, “They were coming up with, like, oppo research against you and feeding into the press,” Fauci continued, “It was most unusual that I was working in the White House and the communications people in the White House were doing opposition research about telling the public about I’m usually wrong on what I say. That’s sort of, like, weird.”

Fauci wants to portray himself as a man of science who simply spoke the truth, but Fauci has admitted he was not above telling a white lie if he felt it served his purposes and he tried to squash any initial discussion of the lab leak theory. Simply noticing that is not, as Colbert would say, the “politicization of science.”

Here is a transcript for the June 17-taped show:

CBS The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

6/18/2024

12:05 AM ET

STEPHEN COLBERT: Politicization of science is dangerous, but it’s not a new thing. This has happened in the past. You’ve dealt with it in the past. Have you seen anything like the way it is now? Because certainly just a few days ago, your testimony down in Washington, D.C., made headlines for the hostility you received.

ANTHONY FAUCI: Right.

COLBERT: Is this—even for your long and storied career and being involved with all these politicians, does this seem like something new to you?

FAUCI: Quite new and disturbing. Back when I first became director of the Institute, which was, you know, I had been director for almost 40 years, in the beginning there was always politics, you know. People of different ideology. There was center, center-left, center-right. They disagreed and they sometimes would argue with each other but at the end of the day, there was civility and respect for each other. What we’re saying now is what you had mentioned, Stephen, it’s vitriol and pure hostility. 

So, I would get questioned in a very strict-pushy way, maybe back in other administrations. But at the end of the hearing, they would come over to you and say you know, “Good job. Sorry that we had to be tough with our questionings, but we want to get to the right place.” 

Now it’s pure attack, which is totally, it’s just, I believe it’s a reflection of the profound degree of divisiveness in the country which is very destructive.

COLBERT: You have a chapter in here. You have a chapter in here on Donald Trump called “He loves me, he loves me not” and I’m pretty sure where that one landed. Why that title for the chapter?

FAUCI: Well, actually in the beginning I had a very complicated relationship with President Trump. In the very beginning we got along very well. You know, I write in the book, I don’t know whether it’s because, you know, two guys from New York, him from Queens, me from Brooklyn that we, kind of, understood each other and we got along very, very well early on. 

It was only when what he was saying and began to say, because he wanted so much for this thing to go away, that he was saying things that were incorrect and I felt strongly, though it was not comfortable for me to do it, although the people who attack me think I did it to sort of tear him down, it was not because I have a great deal of respect for the presidency of the United States that I had to contradict him publicly because he was saying things that were not correct. Once that happens, then both he and mostly his staff, not so much the president, but the staff, I became, you know, anathema, persona non grata.

COLBERT: They were coming up with, like, oppo research against you and feeding into the press.

FAUCI: It was most unusual that I was working in the White House and the communications people in the White House were doing opposition research about telling the public about I’m usually wrong on what I say. That’s sort of, like, weird.

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