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Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Tuesday called on Fox News to fire host Jesse Watters for targeting him with violent rhetoric at a conservative conference earlier this week.
“That’s awful that he said that. And he’s going to go, very likely, unaccountable,” Fauci told CNN of Watters’ remarks. “I mean, whatever network he’s on is not going to do anything for him. I mean, that’s crazy. The guy should be fired on the spot.”
Speaking on Monday at Turning Point USA’s AmericaFest conference, Watters encouraged attendees to rhetorically “ambush” Fauci with dubious questions about the National Institutes of Health allegedly funding “gain-of-function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“Now you go in for the kill shot. The kill shot? With an ambush? Deadly. Because he doesn’t see it coming,” Watters said.
Fauci — who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and has served for 37 years as director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — on Tuesday described Watters’ remarks as “horrible.”
“The only thing that I have ever done throughout these two years is to encourage people to practice good public health practices: to get vaccinated, to be careful in public settings, to wear a mask,” Fauci said. “And for that, you have some guy out there saying that people should be giving me a kill shot to ambush me? I mean, what kind of craziness is there in society these days?”
Fox News defended Watters in a statement, saying: “Based on watching the full clip and reading the entire transcript, it’s more than clear that Jesse Watters was using a metaphor for asking hard-hitting questions to Dr. Fauci about gain-of-function research and his words have been twisted completely out of context.”
Watters is a co-host of the Fox News weekday show “The Five” and the host of his own weekend show, “Watters’ World.”
Fox News hosts, as well as Republican congressional lawmakers, have repeatedly targeted Fauci throughout the coronavirus pandemic with inflammatory and personal rhetoric. He began receiving armed security protection last April amid online attacks by supporters of former President Donald Trump, and he has spoken publicly about threats to his family.
Earlier this month, Lara Logan, a Fox News personality and host on its streaming service, compared Fauci to the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele — prompting Fauci to rebuke the network for not taking disciplinary action against Logan.
“What I find striking … is how she gets no discipline whatsoever from the Fox network — how they can let her say that with no comment and no disciplinary action,” Fauci told MSNBC. “I’m astounded by that.”