Twitter CEO Elon Musk already had a reputation for posting provocative tweets on the platform prior to acquiring the company earlier this year — and the trend has only amplified since then.
Earlier this week, he elicited mixed reviews of several posts criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci, who emerged as a prominent expert in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was named chief White House medical adviser under President Joe Biden and attracted glowing coverage across much of the mainstream media.
Fauci’s critics, however, have frequently denounced his often contradictory advice regarding COVID-19 mitigation measures as well as seemingly misleading statements regarding U.S. funding of research that might have led to the creation and spread of the virus.
Musk made his feelings on the matter clear in a series of recent tweets, starting with one that angered Fauci fans and transgender activists.
“My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” he wrote.
In a subsequent statement, he addressed astronaut Scott Kelly’s concerns about the pithy tweet.
“I strongly disagree,” Musk wrote. “Forcing your pronouns upon others when they didn’t ask, and implicitly ostracizing those who don’t, is neither good nor kind to anyone. As for Fauci, he lied to Congress and funded gain-of-function research that killed millions of people. Not awesome [in my opinion].”
He has also posted a few other jabs aimed at the controversial doctor in recent days.
For his part, Fauci addressed the criticism by both downplaying its importance and claiming that it poses a threat to his personal safety.
“Of course it’s at risk,” he asserted. “That’s why I have armed federal agents with me all the time.”
Nevertheless, Fauci sought to portray Musk’s posts as beneath him, insisting: “I don’t even feel I need to respond.”
Reacting to the fact that the posts have clearly resonated with many Twitter users, Fauci opined that the rhetoric “stirs a lot of hate in people who have no idea why they’re hating” and are only sharing the sentiment because it originally came from someone famous.
While he might be able to dismiss tweets, an incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives will likely be more difficult to write off. As Rep. Jerry Carl (R-AL) explained shortly after last month’s midterm elections, questioning Fauci will be a priority in the upcoming legislative session.
“We can start bringing him before Congress and asking some hard questions,” the lawmaker said. “Find out what he knows. I don’t expect the truth from him. I’ve never expected the truth from him, but we can start taking the truth and try to start dissecting it and figure out what the truth is.”