How the Corporate Media Launched a Disinformation Campaign to Protect Fauci
As public anger grew over gruesome and medically useless dog experiments funded by Fauci's agencies and budgets, his media allies came to the rescue with a pack of lies.
NOTE FROM GLENN GREENWALD: Earlier this month, I reported that The Washington Post was preparing a hit piece on a group that it had long praised: the White Coat Waste Project, devoted to the singular mission of building an ideologically diverse coalition to oppose wasteful and morally reprehensible taxpayer-funded experiments on dogs and other animals. As I noted there, The Post — after years of heaping praise on this group as a rare Washington success story in uniting left and right around a common noble cause — was now working to create the exact opposite narrative: namely, that the group was driven by some sort of clandestine MAGA or pro-Trump agenda, which meant its work should be regarded as unreliable and that it is denouncing animal experimentations not out of a sincere devotion to the cause but only to undermine the sacred-to-liberals Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose agencies and budgets fund these experiments (that White Coat has been working against government experimentations on dogs for many years, long before Fauci became a political lightning rod, was no impediment to the Post's smear job, because, as is so often the case these days, its mission was political and not journalistic).
As predicted, The Post, on November 19, published their attack on White Coat. Its pro-Fauci mission could not have been more obvious, beginning with the headline: “Fauci swamped by angry calls over beagle experiments after campaign that included misleading image: Little known animal-rights group leverages hostility among conservatives toward U.S. covid chief." The article also noted that I had weeks earlier revealed what they were up to, blaming our reporting here for fueling further criticisms of Dr. Fauci, as if doing that — exposing the bad acts of a powerful political official like Fauci — is something a journalist should avoid doing.
That Post article, along with similar ones from corporate outlets that emerged, sought to depict White Coat and the conservative and independent media outlets covering this story as engaged in a “misinformation” campaign. But as noted in the below Outside Voices article we are publishing today by Leighton Woodhouse — who has been covering this story from the start — it is The Post and Fauci's defenders who are disseminating blatant disinformation, with the barely concealed motive of protecting Fauci at all costs, even if it means burying this vital story about the ethically horrendous acts of the government in the name of science.
As is true with all of the Outside Voices freelance articles that we publish here, we edit and fact-check the articles to ensure factual accuracy, but our publication of it does not necessarily mean we agree with all or even any of the views expressed by the journalist, who is guaranteed editorial freedom here. Following Woodhouse's article below, you can watch the video player to see the segment I did last night on Fox News with Tucker Carlson regarding this article and the corporate media's dishonest attempts to protect Fauci, as illustrated by The Post's dishonest hit piece.
By Leighton Woodhouse
By now you’ve surely heard about Anthony Fauci and his laboratory beagles, but in case you haven’t, it goes like this: For forty years, Fauci, as the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has funded gruesome experiments on animals. Beagles in particular are one of the favored species for these experiments, because of their docile and people-pleasing nature, which makes for less hassle for the humans who subject them to pain and suffering. In one of these NIAID-funded experiments, in Tunisia, sedated beagles’ heads were put into mesh bags with swarms of starved sand flies, who fed on the live dogs.
The other thing you may have heard is that the story is just another right-wing conspiracy theory. You may have heard this from The Washington Post, from any of a number of self-proclaimed “fact checkers,” or maybe even from the globally renowned Beacon of Honesty David Frum of The Atlantic.
I’ve been reporting on this story for the past few weeks. In fact, I’ve been reporting it as closely as anyone, if not more so. It’s been an extremely educational experience for me, but not because I was unfamiliar with the industry of animal experimentation, or NIAID’s leading role within it. What’s been educational is seeing up close and first-hand how the mainstream media constructs and deploys a brazen misinformation campaign.
First of all, just to get this detail out of the way: the story is true. As head of NIAID, the second biggest institute within the National Institutes of Health, Anthony Fauci has spent billions of dollars over four decades funding scientific experiments on animals, many of them stomach-turning. NIAID does not deny this. In fact, the published scientific papers that describe these heinous experiments routinely credit NIAID and NIH as their funders, and sometimes as direct collaborators. You can look them up yourself: here are just a few of them.
Of the numerous horrific experiments on dogs funded by agencies and budgets controlled by Fauci, there’s only one that is in dispute: the one in Tunisia. That is the experiment which involved placing sedated beagles’ heads in mesh bags with swarms of starved sand flies, which feasted on the live dogs in order to transmit to them a parasite that carries a disease called “leishmaniasis.” The scientific paper that described the results of that experiment, published on July 15, originally credited NIAID as a funder.
But after this ethical monstrosity was publicized and denounced by an anti-animal testing group specializing in a building left/right coalitions — the White Coat Waste Project, which, as Glenn Greenwald reported in this space two weeks ago, became the target of a Washington Post hit piece as punishment for denouncing Fauci — this particular experiment created a minor media sensation and a major headache for NIH. In the wake of that recent controversy, the paper’s authors — just three weeks ago, on November 11 — suddenly retracted their statement about NIAID funding. In wooden language that reads like a hostage note, they now claim that when they said that NIAID had paid for this experiment, it was by accident.
There are plenty of reasons to doubt that denial, which I’ll go into shortly. But ultimately: who cares? This was just one revolting NIAID-funded experiment among many that White Coat Waste exposed, and not even the worst of them. NIAID does not deny funding any of those other experiments, which are just a few out of thousands of animal experiments which NIAID has underwritten going back to the 1980s. It has long been known that experiments on dogs rarely if ever yield any tangible benefits for medical research regarding humans, making these experiments not only morally reprehensible but useless. Even if we were to concede NIAID's denial that they funded this one specific test — and there is no reason to grant them that (again, I’ll get into this shortly) — it would put only the slightest dent in the overall story, which is that Anthony Fauci is personally accountable for billions of dollars worth of wasteful and cruel experiments on innocent, terrified animals.
Fauci's highly cynical strategy — and therefore the strategy of his media allies — is to focus everyone's attention on this one sole project in Tunisia, then deny that he funded it. The obvious goal is to obscure and bury what they cannot deny even if that denial were true: namely, that agencies and budgets controlled by Fauci fund thousands of similar or worse experiments on dogs. Not only does NIAID not deny this core fact, but, as demonstrated above, they admit this in multiple reports and experimentation reports.
But now we get to the part of this episode that was particularly educational to me. That single denial — a highly dubious one — generated an orgy of mainstream media reporters tripping over each other to dismiss the entire story of Fauci animal abuse as “misinformation.”
Before NIAID issued this denial, there was almost no coverage at all of the story in the mainstream media. With a few isolated exceptions, it was covered only in conservative media, independent media, and social media for obvious reasons: since it reflects poorly on Fauci, the liberal sector of the corporate media has no interest in doing anything other than burying it. But as soon as NIAID chummed the water with its questionable denial, suddenly it was a hot topic in the press: not as a story about animal abuse, but about “right-wing misinformation.” In other words, corporate journalists had no interest in any of this — including the misuse of taxpayer funds to support ethically monstrous and medically useless experiments — until they found a way to wield it as a cudgel to attack right-wing media and shield Fauci.
Such cynical partisan scheming is appropriate or at least expected from DNC operatives, but not actual journalists. But that, of course, is the point: these corporate journalists resemble and see themselves far more as the former than the latter. And their conduct here proves that.
The first journalist to ride to Fauci’s rescue was The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank. In his October 25 column, Milbank cited NIAID’s denial and, from that alone, concluded that the entire story was a product of “the right-wing disinformation machine and its crusade against Fauci.” (When I challenged Milbank on these claims on Twitter, he blocked me.) Then, following Milbank’s lead, suddenly a slew of “fact checker” websites that had never weighed in on the subject before put up posts casting doubt on the story.