Twitter CEO Elon Musk over the weekend called for the prosecution of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the government’s COVID-19 response, in a tweet simultaneously mocking the use of preferred pronouns.
Earlier in the morning he tweeted an edited meme that showed Fauci whispering in President Joe Biden’s ear: “Just one more lockdown, my king…”
Through his public-facing role managing the pandemic, Fauci became a symbol of lockdowns, mask-wearing and vaccine-pushing that some saw as intrusive, destructive and ineffective against COVID-19. Musk was an opponent of pandemic-era lockdowns from the beginning, tweeting “FREE AMERICA NOW” in April 2020.
In a reply to Musk’s Sunday tweet, Scott Kelly, a former astronaut, asked Musk not to “mock and promote hate toward … the #LGBTQ+ community,” adding, “Dr Fauci is a dedicated public servant whose sole motivation was saving lives.”
Musk replied that he “strongly disagree[s],” saying Fauci “lied to Congress and funded gain-of-function research that killed millions of people. Not awesome imo.”
Fauci has previously denied allegations that he funded controversial “gain-of-function” research that could have created COVID-19 in a Wuhan, China laboratory. Whether he funded the research – and whether a “lab leak” led to the first COVID-19 outbreak – remains unclear.
In a reply to Musk, journalist Matt Yglesias asked, “Any thoughts on Covid policy in China?”
Musk, whose Tesla carmaker is expanding its manufacturing in China, has been silent on the recent wave of protests there over the country’s strict “zero-COVID” policy, even as he crusades for free speech and against lockdowns in the U.S.
Fauci, who has led major epidemic responses since HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, is set to retire from his government roles this month. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has had high-profile spats with Fauci over his role in COVID-19, piggybacked on Musk’s tweet to say Fauci’s retirement shouldn’t shield him from questions.
“Fauci’s resignation should not prevent a full-throated investigation into the origins of the pandemic,” Paul said. “He must be required to testify under oath regarding any discussions he participated in concerning the Wuhan lab leak. His policies destroyed lives.”