Rush Limbaugh on Tuesday suggested Dr. Anthony Fauci and other medical experts involved in the government response to the coronavirus pandemic are “Hillary Clinton sympathizers” with motives to damage President Donald Trump’s reelection efforts. He claimed their advice to shut down the economy aimed to fulfill this objective rather than to protect public health.
The conservative radio host, who has persistently disseminated dangerous misinformation and conspiracy theories about the outbreak and initially labeled it nothing more than a “common cold,” admitted Tuesday that the virus that has claimed more than 12,000 lives and infected more than 396,000 people in the U.S. is “deadly” and “very serious.”
Still, he argued the push to maintain strict stay-at-home measures is an effort to stifle the economy to hurt Trump.
Fauci, who is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading voice on Trump’s coronavirus task force, has repeatedly urged more widespread lockdown measures to protect American lives. Even with the social distancing and mitigation efforts in place, the White House estimated 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will die of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
“It’s just, you know, we’ve got all of these Hillary Clinton sympathizers still in the medical expert team here. And we know that one thing has not changed, and that is these people’s desire, above everything else, to get rid of Donald Trump,” Limbaugh said, following a rant about Fauci.
He went on to propose the “elderly and the susceptible” stay home and “let the young and healthy out, let them get back to work,” ignoring the fact that authorities report a large portion of hospitalizations and severe illnesses from coronavirus are among younger people and that social distancing measures require mass participation to minimize deaths.
Now, I understand this virus is a deadly thing. I understand it’s very serious. I understand all of that, please do not get confused here. But motivation is a key element to anything. Desire is a key element to accomplishment. It always has been. And we keep hearing, “No, we’ve got to maintain this shutdown. In fact, we need to even intensify the shutdown. We need to keep people staying at home...”
I’m just telling you that there is an all-out subtle effort for the status quo because it’s going to hurt Donald Trump. That is the objective. That is the only thing at the forefront of some of these people’s minds while they portray themselves as being primarily concerned with public health.
Limbaugh has previously claimed the outbreak was an exaggerated common cold (but also a Chinese “bioweapon”), that government health experts at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are part of the “deep state,” and that the media are weaponizing the outbreak in an attempt to bring down Trump and capitalism.
In February, the president awarded his ultraconservative ally with the highest civilian honor given by a U.S. president, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
h/t Media Matters