In another series of Twitter posts appealing to a right-wing audience, Elon Musk has suggested calling for the prosecution of Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading immunologist and White House adviser for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Musk’s latest post – “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci” – follows a streak of messages from the world’s wealthiest person on his newly acquired platform that increasingly has amplified far-right and conspiratorial content.
The early morning post – hinting at support for Covid-19 conspiracy theories while offending transgender and nonbinary people – was met approvingly by far-right members of Congress, including Marjorie Taylor Greene and Andy Biggs, who indicated that the incoming Republican-controlled House of Representatives will investigate Dr Fauci.
He also posted a meme comparing Dr Fauci to a character from The Lord of the Rings that suggests Dr Fauci, as a corrupted counselor to a king (pictured as President Joe Biden), pushed for “more lockdowns,” which the administration has never endorsed.
At the onset of the pandemic, Musk relied on the platform to downplay the magnitude of the crisis. He also wrongfully believed the pandemic would be over within weeks, called public safety guidelines “dumb” and “fascist” as he sought to preserve his heavily scrutinised Tesla manufacturing business, and echoed far-right protesters and Republican officials across the US who have sought to cast doubt about the dangers of the public health emergency and intimidate health officials and experts who correctly warned the public of its impacts.
Musk, meanwhile, said he supports “vaccines in general [and] covid vaccines specifically,” he said last April. “The science is unequivocal.”
While raging against so-called “lockdown” workplace protections, Musk also has been largely deferential to China, where Tesla’s massive Shanghai plant was shuttered by authorities during the Omicron outbreak. It later reopened “under strict protocols that included having workers temporarily live at the plant and not returning to their homes.”
Human Rights Watch warned recently that Twitter’s relative refuge from Chinese social media censorship could be compromised by Musk’s “vast business interests in China” and a history of “businesses groveling in front of Beijing in exchange for accessing the China market”.
Shortly after he acquired the platform, Twitter announced it would no longer enforce its policy against spreading Covid disinformation, while its new owner frequently interacts with and replies to posts from far-right personalities, accusing the platform of suppressing “information” about the pandemic that has been labeled false or misleading.
More than 1 million Americans have died from Covid-19.
Dr Fauci – the 81-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to President Biden – is set to leave his role in government after more than 50 years in public service.
In a farewell essay for The New York Times published on 11 December, Dr Fauci wrote that the successes of the pandemic response “have been driven by scientific advances, particularly lifesaving vaccines that were developed, proven safe and effective in clinical trials and made available to the public within one year — an unprecedented feat.”
“Other lessons are painful, such as the failures of certain public health responses domestically and globally,” he added.
He wrote that the public “must acknowledge that our fight against Covid-19 has been hindered by the profound political divisiveness in our society” and condemned the ways in which “decisions about public health measures such as wearing masks and being vaccinated with highly effective and safe vaccines have been influenced by disinformation and political ideology.”
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that public health policy decisions are driven by the best available data,” he wrote. “Scientists and health workers can do their part by speaking up, including to new and old media sources, to share and explain in plain language the latest scientific findings as well as what remains to be learned.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies