‘The Skunk at the Picnic’: Dr. Anthony Fauci on Working for Trump

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This episode contains strong language.

Dr. Anthony Fauci describes a number of situations while advising the Trump administration on the pandemic as “difficult.”

President Donald J. Trump and the White House minimized the gravity of the coronavirus, Mr. Trump prioritized anecdotal evidence about treatments over the science, and the White House press office even worked to undermine Dr. Fauci.

So Dr. Fauci made a decision against this backdrop: If asked whether he disagreed with something that had been said, he would answer honestly. His role could be summarized in what he called “a little joke”: He was “the skunk at the picnic.”

Today, a candid conversation between Dr. Fauci and Donald G. McNeil Jr., the Times science and health reporter, about dealing with the pandemic under the Trump administration.

On today’s episode

Donald G. McNeil Jr., a science and health reporter for The New York Times.

Background reading

From denialism to death threats, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci described to Donald G. McNeil Jr. a fraught year as an adviser to President Donald J. Trump on the pandemic.

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Donald G. McNeil Jr. contributed reporting.

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