FIREWORKS! On CNN, Mary Katharine Ham Shames Media ‘Fangirling’ For Fauci

Conservative writer and political commentator Mary Katharine Ham was outnumbered on today’s New Day, but she still managed to make the liberal journalists squirm as she shamed the media for “fangirling” over Anthony Fauci.

Co-hosts John Avlon and Brianna Keilar, as well as political analyst David Gregory were bashing Senator Rand Paul, after he grilled Fauci during a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday, for appearing to lie about the NIH funding gain of function research in Wuhan, China. 

Gregory sneered at the senator calling him an “internet conspiracy theorist,” before accusing conservatives of playing a “political game” by scrutinizing Fauci’s work with China. John Avlon echoed Gregory when he confronted Ham:

“And Mary Katharine, that’s what I want to get to is this conservative decision to demonize Anthony Fauci,” he said, before touting a study which found people who read “conservative hyperpartisan websites” had much less trust in Fauci than the general public.

He posed, “So what’s the game here? What is the purpose of this fixation on attacking Anthony Fauci?”

But Ham schooled CNN on how the media has fueled the distrust over Fauci by not holding him accountable:

Well, I don’t think it’s entirely a game. I think it’s that Fauci is a very powerful public official who deserves and rarely gets tough questioning in almost any realm. He gets frankly a lot of fangirling and a lot of just sort of forum for his ideas and he doesn’t get a lot of pushback. Senator Paul understood the assignment here. He’s asking about a tough subject that admittedly none of us are experts on, but I would like to know a lot more about. And despite his protestations, tough questions for Dr. Anthony Fauci are not attacks on science itself. This is something we should talk about. 

She also noted how Fauci had tainted his “own level of trustworthiness” by flip-flopping on masks, and discounting the lab leak theory. After Gregory disagreed, Ham continued slamming the media for protecting Fauci and dismissing the lab leak theory:

But both Fauci and much of the media and much of his fan base, frankly, conflate confronting him about these things in a serious way with an attack on him personally. It’s not an attack on him personally to note he has done these things. He is the face of the messaging for this. At times he has not been a great face for the messaging of these things. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to point out. On the issue of this particular line of questioning which has to do with the lab leak theory, we also have to put in practice you may say it’s legitimate to ask him difficult questions but we don’t ever seem to get around it to. Okay? On this issue in particular that’s connected to the lab leak theory. The lab leak theory was credible last year. Reported on valiantly by [CNN analyst] Josh Rogin even when people say it was verboten and we shouldn’t talk ability. Rand Paul asked about it last year as well. This is the kind of thing that makes people distrust folks when we’re told we can’t talk about something that we have good reason to ask — 

But Gregory bristled at the notion that the media had spent a year trying to censor any talk about the virus escaping from a lab, or that Fauci hadn’t faced tough questions from journalists. He called Ham’s rant, “cable news silliness:”

“I’m sorry. This is getting into cable news silliness. This is cable news silliness. Nobody is saying — we are talking about this. There are all kinds of scrutiny, all kind of scrutiny of Fauci that’s gone on for months. Where do we find out about this? People are talking about it!” he exclaimed, as the pair continued bickering and interrupting each other.

The New Day co-hosts tried to smooth out the tension, by giving a small concession that public officials should face tough questions (duh) and saying that Ham was making a “more nuanced argument” than Rand Paul. 

Finally, Gregory got the last word. He argued that Fauci has been “remarkably consistent” and that Paul’s cross-examination was shallow like an argument on Twitter rather than a serious discussion.

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Read a relevant transcript below:

New Day

7/21/21

AVLON: Yeah. And Mary Katharine, that’s what I want to get to is this conservative decision to demonize Anthony Fauci. I want to separate from the question of the Wuhan lab leak because this conflation is causing the confusion. But we can actually measure the impact of this month’s-long effort. According to a new poll, 68% of folks overall are confident that Fauci is providing trustworthy advice on COVID. But that number goes down dramatically when all of a sudden you look at people who are adjusting their information primarily from conservative, hyperpartisan sites. So what’s the game here? What is the purpose of this fixation on attacking Anthony Fauci?

MARY KATHARINE HAM: Well, I don’t think it’s entirely a game. I think it’s that Fauci is a very powerful public official who deserves and rarely gets tough questioning in almost any realm. He gets frankly a lot of fangirling and a lot of just sort of forum for his ideas and he doesn’t get a lot of pushback. Senator Paul understood the assignment here. He’s asking about a tough subject that admittedly none of us are experts on, but I would like to know a lot more about. And despite his protestations, tough questions for Dr. Anthony Fauci are not attacks on science itself. This is something we should talk about. 

Further, Fauci has something to do with the numbers on his own level of trustworthiness. He has at least twice, and I will be gentle, in saying at least shaded the truth about his covid pronouncements based on his own judgment on what the public can handle. Now, you may think those shadings of the truth were noble, that for instance, saying that masks were not particularly efficient for helping protect you back in the beginning of the pandemic so that they could be in greater supply for health workers, that the end result was okay. But it did seed distrust of him with good reason.He also has admitted saying that when it came to herd immunity, he looked at polling to base his statements on how much herd immunity would be the threshold that we needed. These two instances are just — 

JOHN AVLON: Mary Katherine –I want to– 

HAM:  Hold on. Those are just facts. And it is an issue that a very powerful public figure was found to be shading the truth about these things and it is a reason that people have come to distrust him. On the issue of the lab leak theory—

..

HAM: But both Fauci and much of the media and much of his fan base, frankly, conflate confronting him about these things in a serious way with an attack on him personally. It’s not an attack on him personally to note he has done these things. He is the face of the messaging for this. At times he has not been a great face for the messaging of these things. I think that’s a perfectly reasonable thing to point out. On the issue of this particular line of questioning which has to do with the lab leak theory, we also have to put in practice you may say it’s legitimate to ask him difficult questions but we don’t ever seem to get around it to. Okay? On this issue in particular that’s connected to the lab leak theory. The lab leak theory was credible last year. Reported on valiantly by Josh Rogin even when people say it was verboten and we shouldn’t talk ability. Rand Paul asked about it last year as well. This is the kind of thing that makes people distrust folks when we’re told we can’t talk about something that we have good reason to ask — 

GREGORY:  But we’re talking about it. This is this red herring. I’m sorry this is a strawman–that people — 

[talking over each other] 

HAM: He does not sound like he’s being forthcoming, he sounds like he’s walking a bunch of lines and being very indignant and saying any attacks on him are an attack on science itself.

GREGORY: I’m sorry. This is getting into cable news silliness. This is cable news silliness. Nobody is saying — we are talking about this. There are all kinds of scrutiny, all kind of scrutiny of Fauci that’s gone on for months. Where do we find out about this? People are talking about it. Is there a political nature to all of this- 

HAM: Yes, but a year ago they were told it was a smear, a conspiracy theory!

[talking over each other] 

HAM: There was reason to question it. 

GREGORY: I’m not here to get into a shouting match. 

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