In his column for the Washington Post, Greg Sargent explained that an attempt to smear Dr. Anthony Fauci -- who has irritated Donald Trump by being more candid about the coronavirus than the president would like -- has backfired on the White House.
As Sargent notes, early attacks on Fauci have flopped because the media is instead focusing on the fact that the White House is blatantly trying to undermine the country's most trusted and visible health official who has been rightly predicting all along that the COVID-19 health crisis would get worse before it gets better.
The columnist noted that the president was likely initially pleased when what has been called "oppo research" was shipped out to reporters but that was short-lived because the press instead focused on the motives for the attempted smear.
"All this has really accomplished is to unleash intensified media scrutiny of the tortured relationship between Trump and Fauci. The result: a spate of fresh reporting on that relationship — reporting that only illustrates Trump’s pathologies with new depth and vividness," he wrote.
"Much of the discussion has been about how unusual it is that the White House would leak campaign-style oppo research about Trump’s own top health official. But less attention has focused on how deranged it is that Fauci has become the enemy — that is, the target for counter-punching — in the first place," he added before calling the White House attempt at spin "ham-handed."
Noting that Fauci's comments over time have evolved as researchers learn more about COVID-19, Sargent explained that the president has maintained all along that the crisis would "magically" soon disappear despite evidence that it is growing exponentially worse in new hot spots like Arizona, Texas and Florida.
"In drawing attention to all this, Trump’s advisers have reminded us that all these things — communicating with the public in good faith about an urgent matter; learning from new information even if it sheds unflattering light on earlier conduct; prioritizing public health over Trump’s perceived short term political interests — are precisely what Trump himself will not do," he concluded.