The White House refused to allow Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease expert on the administration’s coronavirus task force, to appear on Sunday’s episode of ABC’s “This Week,” host Jon Karl said.
Fauci had been willing to appear, but the White House wouldn’t sign off, Karl said in the show’s opening.
“We had hoped to talk to Dr. Fauci about both the outbreak at the White House and across the country,” Karl said. “He was more than willing to join us, but the White House wouldn’t allow you to hear from the nation’s leading expert on the coronavirus.
“In fact, they wouldn’t allow any of the medical experts on the president’s own coronavirus task force to appear on this show,” he added.
At least two other networks ― CBS and NBC ― also tried and failed to book Fauci for their respective Sunday morning political talk shows this week.
CBS’ “Face the Nation” asks for Fauci to appear on the show every week, but he’s not specifically offered as a guest, a CBS source told HuffPost. The show has, however, booked other top officials to discuss the pandemic, including Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House’s coronavirus task force and chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Fauci hasn’t appeared on NBC’s “Meet The Press” in nearly six months, despite weekly requests for him to join, a network source told HuffPost.
In a statement to HuffPost, a spokesperson for “Fox News Sunday” said the show requested an interview this week with Vice President Mike Pence, who has led the White House’s coronavirus task force since February, but the White House declined.
Neither the White House nor the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where Fauci serves as director, immediately responded to requests for comment.
In a tweet Sunday, White House communications director Alyssa Farah called Karl’s allegation “FALSE” and said that Fauci appeared on several TV news shows earlier in the week. She said Karl never requested another member of the White House coronavirus task force in Fauci’s place.
But Karl fired back that Farah was “not telling the truth” and tweeted an image of an email he purportedly sent her Friday asking if Pence, Birx or several other public health officials would appear on the show if they wouldn’t make Fauci available.
“The truth matters,” Karl wrote in a tweet directed at Farah. “The requests for Dr. Fauci and the other members of the task force were made directly to you — multiple times.”
Tension between Fauci and the White House has been reportedly mounting in recent months. President Donald Trump has frequently undermined guidance from Fauci and other public health experts.
The Trump campaign released a new ad this week featuring what appeared to be Fauci praising Trump’s response to the coronavirus crisis. But Fauci pushed back on Sunday, saying that his words were “taken out of context” and used without his permission.