The Corner

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Let Dr. Fauci Do His Job . . . Without Asking about His Security

President Donald Trump with Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a roundtable briefing at the National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Md., March 3, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Just to pile on Jim’s post about Dr. Anthony Fauci this morning, I have a plea to the national media: With due respect, stop asking about and reporting on Dr. Fauci’s having a security detail.

I speak from personal experience derived from my years as a government lawyer prosecuting terrorism cases.

When the government security officials and an official who has been threatened determine that it is necessary for the threatened official to be protected, there are a number of things to bear in mind.

First, the government security officials instruct the protected official that he or she should not acknowledge or discuss whether there is a security detail, much less the precautions that are in effect. So, just as Dr. Fauci deflected the question when it came up at the White House task force’s daily briefing earlier this week, we can expect that he will continue politely declining to answer questions about his security.

Second, and consequently, the only purpose served by pressing the question is to communicate to the crazies out there that they are having the desired effect of making themselves relevant, forcing the government to mobilize, and potentially unnerving the official and (especially) his or her loved ones. This must be weighed against the minimal news value in reporting on the security detail. (There are so many security details in government anymore that many people assume high-profile — and even middling — officials have them, not because of any specific threat but because it comes with the territory.)

Third, and finally, Dr. Fauci is a smart, tough guy. More to the point, he is busy beyond our imagining and no doubt has neither the inclination nor the time to worry about threats. The people the threats may unnerve are his family members and friends. He’s a good guy, so he will feel like he has to deal with this anxiety. Though he is not at fault, he will naturally feel he is causing his loved ones to be upset and frightened.

Let’s not make him do that — both because we just shouldn’t, and because we need him to focus on his vital work. That’s the best way to honor his valiant public service.

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