Who Decides When a Muzzle Is a Muzzle?

Who Decides When a Muzzle Is a Muzzle?

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Janet Ybarra
Democrat
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Criticism that he and his administration were “muzzling” the statements that celebrated federal researcher and immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci were able to make to the public regarding the outbreak of the covid 19 coronavirus in the United States must have finally gotten to Donald Trump.

The head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Fauci is both no ordinary federal bureaucrat and one of the nation’s most knowledgeable and trusted figures for accurate and reliable information on diseases like the coronavirus outbreak.

So it created quite a stir when reports surfaced that the administration is requiring Dr Fauci to seek clearance from the highest levels of the Trump administration before speaking to the public.

The fact is that Dr Fauci works at a level above the need to run to the White House for permission for every interview; he is a recipient of a Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W Bush, for crying out loud.

Dr Fauci cannot have proven devotion to country and duty more than that.

Anyway, almost like a man with a valuable hostage, Donald Trump paraded Dr Fauci in front of the cameras in the White House press briefing room.

And like the good soldier that he’s been for every president–Democrat or Republican–for going on nearly 40 years now, Dr Fauci told the assembled reporters what Trump wanted him to say.

“I have never been muzzled, ever,” Fauci said.

However, Dr Fauci made it clear that, when it came to giving interviews, he was forced to “resubmit for clearance” from the administration.

Which, on the one hand, is absurd. Considering the high levels of inaccuracies in his own coronavirus briefings, Trump and his team would do well to come to Dr Fauci to pre-clear their statements to the public–not the other way around.

On the other hand, the kerfuffle over Dr Fauci’s autonomy of speech really is one of semantics.

Because if he has to “submit for clearance” every time that he needs to speak out in this fast-moving disease outbreak, Dr Fauci is effectively muzzled.

It’s just up to Dr Fauci’s masters within the Trump administration to decide when to remove it.

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