An internal communications staffer in Dr. Anthony Fauci’s office has been writing under a pseudonym for the right-wing website RedState, where he pushes disinformation about COVID-19, according to an investigation by The Daily Beast published Monday.
The official is Bill Crews, an employee of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 2007. But he goes by “streiff” on Twitter and RedState, where he is secretly the managing editor, The Daily Beast reported.
Streiff is a COVID-19 troll with around 4,000 Twitter followers. He regularly slams Fauci and the NIAID guidance about how to stop the spread of the coronavirus. According to his RedState profile, he’s been involved with the site since 2004.
“[T]he odds of a mask protecting you from a virus are exactly the same a a chainlink fence protecting you from a mosquito. You wear a mask and leave me the fuck alone,” he tweeted in May, pushing the same mindset Fauci says has helped the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.
He’s also called mask-wearing “a pseudo-religious cult” and makes a habit of replying to people on Twitter encouraging the practice. “I’m not going to wear one to keep you from wetting yourself,” he’s said.
He’s described Dr. Fauci as “attention-grubbing and media-whoring” and claimed that the pandemic is part of a conspiracy to overtake the country.
“I think we’re 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,” he wrote in a RedState post in June.
Neither Streiff nor Crews immediately returned HuffPost’s requests to confirm or deny the allegations. The Daily Beast said it was able to confirm Crews’ double identity through “public records, social media postings, and internal records from the National Institutes of Health, NIAID’s parent agency.”
Streiff has also hinted to being an NIAID employee several times on Twitter.
The NIAID did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment on the allegations.
You can read the full Daily Beast story here.
UPDATE: Sept. 22 ― Crews on Monday “announced his intention to retire” following The Daily Beast’s report, NIAID spokeswoman Kathy Stover confirmed to HuffPost on Tuesday.
“[T]he Daily Beast reporting is accurate albeit Crews was not a press officer ― he worked in internal communications here at NIAID,” Stover said in an email to HuffPost. “Beyond that, I can’t offer any other details as it is now a personnel matter.”
The story has been updated to correct that Crews works in NIAID’s internal communications department and was not a public relations official.
Hayley Miller contributed reporting.
- Get the latest coronavirus updates here.
- What will life be like once a coronavirus vaccine arrives?
- Everything you need to know about face masks right now.
- What should you still be disinfecting to prevent COVID-19?
- Is it possible you had coronavirus earlier this year?
- Constantly arguing with your partner about coronavirus risks? You are not alone.
Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.