National Institutes of Health staffer to ‘retire’ after being outed as author of online attacks against Dr. Anthony Fauci – USA TODAY

Posted: September 23, 2020 at 7:57 am

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Dr. Fauci responds to comments from members of President Trump's cabinet that are critical of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Associated Press

WASHINGTON The National Institutes of Health said on Monday that apublic relations staffer who had been using apseudonym on a conservative website to attackDr. Anthony Fauci, who runs the agency, and discount the seriousness of the coronavirus, will retire.

The Daily Beast first identified and reportedthatWilliam B. Crews was also the managing editor of right-leaningwebsite RedState where, under the fake name streiff,derided the governments workagainst thecoronavirusoutbreak, calling it"massive fraud."

The articles directly contradict and demeanthe agency's recommendations about COVID-19. They also trashFauci,the nation's leading infectious disease expert,calling him a "mask nazi," among other insults.

Other media outletslaterreportedthat the NIAID said it "first learned of this matter this morning" and that "Mr. Crews has informed us of his intention to retire. We have no further comments on this as it is a personnel matter."

Many of his posts alluded to coordinated schemes by public health officials to damage Trump politically."Streiff" wrote that the "Trump administration were failed at every turn by" Fauci.

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TheDaily Beast reported that the postsbecame increasingly conspiratorial as the pandemic continued.One posted to RedStatein March was titled: When Covid-19 Kills 18,000 People Call Me, But Until Then Stop the Scaremongering.

In June, he wrote, "I think were at the point where it is safe to say that the entire Wuhan virus scare was nothing more or less than a massive fraud perpetrated upon the American people by 'experts' who were determined to fundamentally change the way the country lives and is organized and governed."

Another of his postsimplied that government officials responsible for the pandemic response should be executed.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies during a House Subcommittee on the coronavirus on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on July 31, 2020. (Photo by KEVIN DIETSCH / various sources / AFP)(Photo: KEVIN DIETSCH, AFP via Getty Images)

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Fauci has repeatedly stressed the importance of social distancing and wearing masks, while alsorecently saying the fight against the coronavirus pandemic will only become more strenuous as the year reaches its close.

According to The Daily Beast, Crews has contributed to RedState since 2004, the year it was founded. He haspenned more than 400 posts this year alone, sometimes publishing as many as five a day.

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In his role at the NIAIDs office of communications and government relations, Crews did not deal directly with reporters or the public,according to The Washington Post,but ratherinternal communication. According to his LinkedIn profile, Crews has been at the agency since 2007.

Posts on RedState this year have oftenbeen published during the workweek and duringnormal business hours, raising possible questions about the ethical use of taxpayer resources,according the The Daily Beast.

This news follows anothergovernment health agency employee's coronavirus PR controversy.

Michael Caputo, who was the top spokesman at the Health and Human Services,the NIH's parent agency,was accused of trying to manipulate COVID-19 data for political purposes, and ended up apologizingfor espousingconspiracy theories.

Without offering evidence, Caputo, who was the assistant secretary of public affairsat HHS, accused scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of "sedition," and falsely claimed they had formed a "resistance unit" against Trump.

After he apologized, Caputo announced last week that he would be taking a medical leave.

Contributing: William Cummings, USA TODAY


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September 23rd, 2020 at 7:57 am

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