White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci on Friday defended himself from charges of hypocrisy after he was seen not wearing a mask or social distancing while watching baseball.
Fauci wore his mask on his chin in multiple images from Nationals Park stadium on Thursday after he threw out the opening pitch of the Yankees-Nationals game. The infectious diseases expert, celebrated by President Trump’s critics for his willingness to fault the US pandemic response, was seen sandwiched shoulder-to-shoulder between two other people in the virtually empty stadium.
But Fauci rejected social media criticism as “mischievous” in a Fox News interview.
“I had my mask around my chin. I had taken it down. I was totally dehydrated and I was drinking water, trying to rehydrate myself,” Fauci insisted. “And by the way, I was negative COVID literally the day before. So I guess people want to make a big event. I wear a mask all the time when I’m outside. To pull it down to take some sips of water and put it back up again, I guess if people want to make something about that, they can. But to me, I think that’s just mischievous.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci in the stands without a mask onAP Photo/Alex Brandon
In one image, Fauci was seen with his mask on his chin grinning at a friend to his right. In another image, Fauci looked straight ahead watching the game, with empty hands pointed toward the field.
Fauci’s mask-free spectating drew criticism from people who view him as eager to impose rules on others.
“Fauci is just giving us a preview of life under a Biden Administration: They’ll never subject themselves to rules they impose on the ‘little people,’” tweeted Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
Podcast host Wayne Dupree wrote, “Americans demand to know why Dr. Fauci doesn’t have to social distance or wear a mask after damning photo emerges.”
In a separate interview, Fauci on Friday defended his early-pandemic advice that people not wear masks.
“It’s very interesting when you use the word ‘mistake,’” Fauci told the Washington Post. “You look at the data, you look at the evidence and you make either a recommendation or a policy. When the information changes, and you change what you’re saying, it’s because you’re wanting to follow the evidence in the data. And that’s the right thing to do. So do you then call that a mistake? Back then, well back then, it wasn’t a mistake.”