Trump Ad Quotes Fauci Out of Context

No, our topic infectious disease expert did not endorse President Trump.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, addresses his remarks at a roundtable on donating plasma Thursday, July 30, 2020, at the American Red Cross-National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)
Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour

CNN (“CNN exclusive: Fauci says he was taken out of context in new Trump campaign ad touting coronavirus response“):

Dr. Anthony Fauci did not consent to being featured in a new advertisement from the Trump campaign touting President Donald Trump‘s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert told CNN his words were taken out of context.”In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials,” Fauci said in a statement provided exclusively to CNN when asked if he agreed to be featured in the ad.

The Trump campaign released the new ad last week after the President was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center following treatment for Covid-19. The 30-second ad, which is airing in Michigan, touts Trump’s personal experience with the virus and uses a quote from Fauci in an attempt to make it appear as if he is praising Trump’s response.”

President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America,” the ad’s narrator says. “Together we rose to meet the challenge, protecting our seniors, getting them life-saving drugs in record time, sparing no expense.”The ad then flashes to an interview with Fauci in which he says, “I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.”

Though no date is provided in the ad, Fauci’s quote is from an interview with Fox News in March. During that interview, Fauci praised the White House coronavirus task force’s round-the-clock effort to respond to the pandemic, which he says included numerous White House meetings and late-night phone calls.”We’ve never had a threat like this. The coordinated response has been…There are a number of adjectives to describe it — impressive, I think is one of them. We’re talking about all hands on deck. I, as one of many people on a team, I’m not the only person,” Fauci said at the time. “Since the beginning, that we even recognized what this was, I have been devoting almost full time on this. I’m down at the White House virtually every day with the task force. It’s every single day. So, I can’t imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more.”

In response to Fauci saying the ad took his words out of context, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said, “These are Dr. Fauci’s own words. The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr. Fauci was praising the work of the Trump Administration. The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr. Fauci’s mouth.”

The use of Fauci in the new ad appeared to be a recognition by the Trump campaign that the doctor is a voice voters trust when it comes to the pandemic. Trump has privately and publicly compared Fauci’s approval with his own.

As violations of the norms by this White House go, this is small potatoes. But it’s just incredibly unseemly use the words of a career public servant for use in a partisan advertisement. And it’s frankly despicable to take words spoken at the outset of a crisis and imply that they’re somehow an endorsement of the President’s handling of it seven months later.

Adding insult to injury, Fauci was intentionally deflecting praise for his own efforts onto a team of faceless professionals working behind the scenes. Team Trump’s turning them into praise for Trump is just so typical.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. CSK says:

    The odd thing about the Trump campaign using a Fauci quote is that Trump supporters really, really hate Fauci.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    And their continued insistence that they were not trying to fool the public is just another illustration of the modern Republican’s delight in lying in our faces, essentially saying, “You know I’m lying, and I know you know, but I don’t care. Here’s more lies!”

  3. Jen says:

    Absolutely despicable to do this. So, basically SOP for GOP operatives.

    I hope the GOP is absolutely decimated on Nov. 3.

  4. Phoebe says:

    @CSK: They hate Fauci but still try to co-opt him to justify why they won’t wear a mask. They are certainly not above appealing to him as an authority so long as they get to spin what he’s said (just like this ad!). Makes me suspect there are lot more people out there souring on Trump over COVID than it seems. I suspect the senior population is less likely to denigrate Fauci’s expertise despite conservative media’s attempts to do so.

  5. CSK says:

    For a moment I wondered if it might be a last-minute desperation ploy to broaden Trump’s appeal to non-Trumpkins.

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    From one of my neighbors, on Nextdoor, here in Silver Lake:

    Im building a troubachet/catapult that can throw candy packs 6 feet down my driveway. I really want to be able to keep holloween alive. Anyone have any legal advice on this? Can i do it? Will i get arrested? What if a bag of candy lands on somebody s head???

    Because we’re adapting quite well to lockdown, all totally, totally normal. The traditional trebuchet season is upon us.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    Now, see, if I had the edit function, upon realizing I dropped the above in the wrong column I’d move it over to the Open Forum. But nooooo.

  8. BugManDan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Is/was there a way to move posts between stories other than copy and delete?

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    No, it’s awkward at the best of times. Just not as awkward as announcing trebuchet season on a Fauci/Covid post.

  10. Kathy says:

    The Lincoln Project should do a repeat of this ad, only using a clip of Fauci saying something like “That’s a complete fabrication,” or “None of that is true.”

    I don’t think they will without his consent, though.

  11. PJ says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Tell your neighbor to always choose the superior siege weapon.

    The Trebuchet.

  12. KM says:


    Makes me suspect there are lot more people out there souring on Trump over COVID than it seems.

    There are. It’s really hard to pretend there’s no crisis when someone you know gets COVID, especially if they die. The truly hardcore will sink further into denial and actively castigate former hoax believers for the heresy of getting ill; you don’t only get the sickness but excommunication from your previous group of friends. Can you imagine buying into Trump’s BS wholeheartedly, only to have someone you love fall ill and your MAGAt ill turning on your now lib ass? That would sour anyone who’s got a smidgeon of humanity in them.

    We’re starting to see cracks in the cult. Reality means a good percentage of them will catch this and end up long-haulers or even die. They’re getting crap from their peers about it and the disconnect can be jarring. It’s like when women who’ve been raised in a ultra-religious environment seek relief from an abusive spouse with their congregation…. then be told *they* are wrong and it’s not a problem / just live with it in silence. The orthodoxy is what matters, not your pain. You’re a Trumpkin and get COVID? Expect no help or compassion from your friends that you “fell for the hoax”.

  13. JohnMcC says:

    And in related news…. the Partnership for Public Service has given it’s prestigious ‘Federal Employee of the Year’ award to Dr Fauci.