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Dr. Fauci's Emails

What thousands of pages of emails reveal about one of the nation's top docs during the first stages of the pandemic.

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Backstory:

  • The Washington Post and BuzzFeed News both requested federal records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
  • Any member of the public can make a FOIA request for federal records.
  • No single agency approves a request - but federal agencies themselves process, approve/deny requests and redact protected information.
  • As head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Fauci's emails are a matter of public record.

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Why It Matters:

These emails provide some insight into the conversations happening behind the scenes, away from the cameras.
Questions remain about whether the public received the best information available during the early stages of the pandemic, or if politics and/or personal beliefs prevented transparency.
*Who knew what when* is still a question lingering from the start of the pandemic.

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What Happened:

The Washington Post received 866 pages of emails dated from March to April 2020.
Buzzfeed received 3,200+ pages of emails dated from January - June 2020 and published ALL of them.
In some cases, the emails are heavily redacted, with the recipient and/or content blacked out; in other cases, the correspondence between Dr. Fauci and prominent individuals, medical professionals, an actress, etc. are published in full.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Publicly and in email Dr. Fauci initially said masks were likely ineffective; later, he changed his position on masking.
  • Dr. Fauci received emails raising questions about the origin of COVID-19. Publicly, he said more information was needed, but the likely source of the virus was an animal (not a lab).
  • Dr. Fauci discussed vaccine development early in the pandemic (March 2020), but also wrote that with effective social distancing "the epidemic will gradually decline and stop on its own without a vaccine."

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Something To Consider:

"Fauci's emails are like a Rorschach ink blot: what you see in them reveals more about you than the ink blot, or, in this case, the emails."

BBC White House reporter Tara McKelvey writes that Dr. Fauci's changing opinions can validate multiple points of view - for example, by undermining, for some, his stricter policy recommendations (such as masking) or validating those who believe he simply followed the evolving science.

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The sheer number of emails makes review tedious but important work. This is our initial reporting. We have linked some recent articles from PolitiFact (a non-partisan fact-checking website) for your review and will continue to look for updates as more emails surface.

Jun 3, 2021

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