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April 13, 2023
Dr. Anthony Fauci took part in a PBS documentary to discuss his role in the COVID-19 pandemic and outline what health officials go through in their personal and professional lives.
“I just felt that there needed to be a story of people understanding what public health officials go through, but also I hope as a source of inspiration for young people who are either in science or interested in going into science,” he told The Associated Press. The documentary airs Tuesday and later streams.
Fauci allowed a film crew to follow him for 23 months starting in January 2021. The documentary covers his career and its crises, especially the way COVID-19 was handled by the Trump administration.
“When you talk about all of the different things coming together for a disaster, that’s what happened: A divided country, a president who amplified the division and then a public health crisis — you couldn’t ask for a worse combination of things,” he said.
Director Mark Mannucci offers an insight into Fauci’s day-do-day life from running from meeting to meeting to frantically snacking between Zoom calls. Fauci also opens up about extra security hired by him and his wife. There is a moment during the documentary when a protestor displays a sign that reads “Dr. Fauci, You Are Killing Us.”
“The story illuminates — and he’d be the first to say it — some very dark stuff about this country and how a person who has devoted his life to helping individuals got so twisted in this current climate,” said Mannucci.
Michael Kantor, who is the executive producer for the American Masters series, says Fauci is a figure who has been central to American life for decades and deserves an examination, for both those who support and oppose him.
“Dr. Fauci is a very controversial figure, and there are going to be people who are going to voice — just as in the film — great displeasure about what he’s done and about his approach to things. But isn’t that the whole point of public media? It is intended to make that conversation happen in the best possible way.”
The film documents Fauci’s struggles dealing with those who felt the federal government was too tough and those who believe it didn’t do enough.
“I went from a world of success and gratification to a world of frustration and failure,” he says during the documentary.
“I put aside the confrontational behavior and the attacks on me and listen to what they were saying,” Fauci explained in the interview. “And what they were saying was making perfect sense. It made me feel if I were in their shoes, I’d be doing exactly what they were doing.”
When Fauci was pressed on whether he should have ordered mask mandates and quarantine faster, he conceded that he got this call wrong.
“Maybe I should have done that,” he says. “Yeah, I was wrong.”
Kantor hopes that in spite of the scrutiny on Fauci during COVID, that his legacy will be a positive one.
“I think 10 years from now, hopefully the furor over him as a controversial figure will die down. But the legacy of the approach to pandemics and so on will still be super valuable,” Kantor said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: LUKE MOCHERMAN