Last month, Dr. Fauci’s assistant stopped answering the phone for a few weeks because they received over 3600 angry phone calls in a 36 hour period regarding a bogus claim that Dr. Fauci experimented on animals, beagles, to be specific.
Much of the onslaught stemmed from a viral and false claim that the agency Fauci leads, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had funded a medical experiment in which beagles were trapped in mesh cages filled with diseased sand flies, according to four National Institutes of Health officials familiar with the calls. The outrage was supercharged by a bipartisan letter signed by 24 members of Congress that questioned the agency’s funding of medical research on dogs.
“You worthless piece of s—, you should be put in prison. Torturing animals!” said a caller in one of 15 voice mails obtained by The Washington Post. “I’d like to take you out in the sand, tie you down, put them fleas all over your a–.”
The false claim, which spread all over right wing “news“ outlets and other shit holes, was started by a little known animal rights group, White Coast Waste. Allegedly, the research was conducted in Tunisia and originated with an error by scientists. Initially, the researchers mistakenly listed NIAID as a funder when they published a paper in a scientific journal in late July. The journal issued a correction Oct. 26, when the agency flagged the mistake to the researchers amid the deluge of angry phone calls.
But by Oct. 28, “Fauci’’ and “puppies” had been posted online, shared or responded to 375,000 times in five days, resulting in potentially billions of views, according to Jeff Yang, a research director at the Institute for the Future, a California-based nonprofit, who studies the flow of information online. Donald Trump Jr. was selling “Fauci Kills Puppies” T-shirts and hoodies. #FauciLiedDogsDied was trending on Twitter. Far-right platforms such as 8kun were awash in memes casting Fauci as a mad, puppy-killing scientist.
“The constant harassment in the form of ridiculous accusations and outright lies makes doing my job and that of my staff of fighting the covid-19 pandemic all the more difficult,” Fauci, who also serves as President Biden’s chief medical adviser, said in an interview with The Post. “This attack on me, which clearly has political overtones to a nonpolitical scientist, I feel, is dangerous to the entire field of science and [shows] how people try to intimidate scientists.”