Fauci’s Testimony Causes Washington Post to Correct Its Own Report

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One of the most comical headlines that emerged from Anthony Fauci’s testimony before Congress on Monday, where he confirmed the lack of scientific evidence for the six-foot social distancing rule, was this gem by Dan Diamond for The Washington Post: “In the pandemic, we were told to keep six feet apart. There’s no science to support that.” Well, fancy that.

Fauci’s surprising admission builds on closed-door testimony before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus back in January, where he revealed that the six-foot rule, which underpinned social distancing edicts, “sort of just appeared.” When multiple Republican members questioned Fauci on Monday about these social distancing guidelines’ origins, Fauci acknowledged that they had not been studied in trials and were insufficient to stop the virus’s spread through the air.

This highlights not only the dishonesty of leading public health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) but also the complicity of major news outlets, notably The Washington Post, in spreading this misleading information. There was no objectivity, curiosity, scrutiny, or genuine desire to represent the public interest. Instead, “journalists” were eager to fuel the Covid fear machine, isolate people from each other, and demonize President Donald Trump.

Between March 4 and March 9, 2020, our public health authorities inexplicably shifted from recommending that Americans wash hands and stay home while sick to demanding that young and healthy people avoid contact with others.

The Washington Post fully embraced the absurdity and fearmongering. On March 10, it soberly advised that “social distancing could buy the U.S. valuable time against coronavirus.” On March 15, Harry Stevens, a Pulitzer Prize winner, used clever graphics and alarming simulations to suggest that “avoiding public spaces and generally limiting … movement” would slow the disease’s spread. According to Stevens, “That is math, not prophecy,

On April 2, the Editorial Board pronounced that “social distancing is working” and warned that “the worst thing to do now is stop.” A week later, the Post announced that “to save lives, social distancing must continue longer than we expect.” Author Bernice Lerner even evoked the Holocaust to guilt readers into embracing social distancing.

But it wasn’t all fire and brimstone. The Post thoughtfully provided advice for those struggling with anxiety during social distancing, for only children confined to their bedrooms to help “flatten the curve,” for the sex-starved, and for Latinos who couldn’t hug or kiss anymore.

When thinking Americans started pushing back against the madness, writer Paul Waldman, author of White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy, detailed how Republicans and Fox News were “promoting a social distancing backlash” among primarily “working-class white voters, especially men.” He declared that “defying stay-at-home orders will only give new life to the coronavirus, prolonging the pandemic and making it harder to recover economically.” Meanwhile, for writers R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Kelly J. Shackelford, mandatory social distancing wasn’t a threat to religious liberty, it was “essential for humanity.”

As for Diamond, The Washington Post’s health politics reporter, he apparently won a journalism award for investigating political interference in the pandemic response. Yet in his previous life at Politico, he was also disseminating the falsehood that physical separation is “the one proven tool to stop viral spread.” Even this week, while conceding that there’s no science behind the social distancing guidelines, Diamond still seemed determined to perpetuate the myth that “social distancing saved lives.”

California restaurant owner Angela Marsden appeared on Fox Business on Tuesday, reminding viewers why, far from being a laughing matter, the bogus social distancing rules were “traumatic” and had an enduring effect on the restaurant industry. The setbacks in education are similarly woeful. A recent analysis of state and national test scores by researchers at Harvard and Stanford revealed that “Alabama is the only state where average student achievement exceeds pre-pandemic levels in math,” and average achievement in reading is below pre-pandemic levels in all but three states (Louisiana, Illinois, and Mississippi).

As I’ve argued before, it’s no use insisting that in those early pandemic days, “We didn’t know.” Yes, we did. At least, anyone who listened carefully knew because all the usual suspects knew and said as much. Fauci, Deborah Birx, Nancy Messonnier, Robert Redfield, and Jerome Adams all went on the record clarifying that the virus was not dangerous to the vast majority of Americans and that the majority of people who contracted the virus would survive. In fact, in congressional testimony on March 11, 2020, Fauci, Redfield, and Robert Kadlec testified that “the immediate risk of this new virus to the American public is low.” What they didn’t disclose was that the CDC’s mitigation strategies had been concocted out of thin air.

Some journalists tried to get to the bottom of the six-foot rule. In mid-April 2020, Quartz contacted the CDC to confirm the guideline’s origins, but after multiple attempts, “the agency failed to comment.” In August 2020, Business Insider reported on a British Medical Journal paper that argued the six-foot rule for social distancing was based on 80-year-old science. Tucker Carlson subsequently highlighted these same findings.

In December 2022, I revealed that on March 9, 2020, Fauci and Birx dishonestly attributed the “science” behind their social distancing framework to non-peer-reviewed research by a group of unwitting Australian scientists, who had essentially just used unreliable Chinese data in their thesis. And in January of this year, I reported that the CDC, possibly Nancy Messonnier herself, was behind the earliest six-foot claim made to The Wall Street Journal as early as Feb. 2, 2020.

But at The Washington “Democracy Dies In Darkness” Post, none of these details ever came to light. Indeed, the most obvious questions—Where’s the research? Who came up with this?—were never asked by any of its writers. In fact, in March 2021, the Post was still recommending masks and social distancing for those who had received the Covid vaccine.

The Washington Post’s reporting on social distancing was fake news based on fake science. Instead of the hedged piece they recently published, evidently conscious that Fauci’s concession demanded some reaction on their part, they should be issuing a sincere mea culpa to the Americans they negligently misled. Then again, even that wouldn’t be enough to compensate for the grievous consequences caused by their utter failure in basic journalism standards.

Carina Benton
Carina Benton
Carina Benton is a dual citizen of Australia and Italy and a permanent resident of the United States. A recent West Coast émigré, she is now helping to repopulate the country’s interior. She holds a master’s degree in education and has taught languages, literature, and writing for many years in Catholic and Christian, as well as secular institutions. She is a practicing Catholic and a mother of two young children.

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