The Small Print That Destroyed America

The Small Print That Destroyed America
NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington on March 16, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeffrey A. Tucker
In a maddening interview yesterday, Anthony Fauci performed his usual song and dance when faced with even the most mild questioning. He stonewalled in his trademarked way.

He spoke in long, drawn-out sentences, emphasizing the word consonants, punctuated by pauses and silences that convey the sense of precision without the reality. He strung together terms that seem vaguely scientific which intimidated his interviewers into an overly cautious pose.

“Oh wow, I’m interviewing a very powerful person,” the interviewer thinks, “so I had better not say anything wrong!”

He’s been pulling this trick for 40 years. He is very good at it.

In this interview, several messages stands out: 1) in retrospect, we should have locked down even more, 2) he never pushed lockdowns; he was only passing on CDC guidance, and 3) he is utterly and completely blameless for all things, particularly in funding gain-of-function research which, in any case, is not responsible for the creation of the virus in Wuhan.

The first part is startling because many of us have had the sense that lockdowns are in disrepute. Far from it: Fauci’s message is that next time, the lockdowns will be harder and longer. And there certainly will be more. The third part I feel sure will be revealed in time. The fear that the virus escaped from the lab is likely what drove the lockdowns agenda.

What intrigues me the most is the second part, the claim that he never ordered lockdowns. This was the CDC and he only served as messenger. Everyone else is to blame for anything that went wrong.

In a second interview the same day, Fauci says this explicitly: “All I have ever done, if you go back and look at everything I’ve ever done, was to recommend common-sense, good CDC-recommended public health policies that have saved millions of lives. If you want to investigate me for that, go ahead.”
I’m going back to the March 16, 2020, press conference at which Fauci, Deborah Birx, and Donald Trump are announcing a fundamental change of life in the United States, one that would disregard all normal rights and liberties. It’s not entirely clear, to me in any case, that Trump knew what was happening even then. He had a sense that he was doing something to stop the spread but he didn’t know entirely what.

This has always puzzled me. It’s one thing for him to be hornswoggled into greenlighting the destruction of the economy that was booming and roaring under his administration. That’s bad enough. But to be confused even about the details of what he was ordering that day is next-level stuff.

The following exchange occurred that day. Trump is asked whether restaurants and other venues should close. Trump responds: “Right now we don’t have an order one way or the other. We don’t have an order, but I think it’s probably better that you don’t [go to restaurants].”

From that, I gather that Trump believed that he was not forcing anything on anyone.

A reporter asks for a clarification: “Telling people to avoid restaurants and bars is a different thing than saying that bars and restaurants should shut down over the next 15 days. So why was it seen as being imprudent or not necessarily to take that additional step offered at additional guidance?”

At this point, Trump demurs and turns over the microphone to Deborah Birx, who must not have been paying attention and says something vague about the virus living on hard surfaces.

At this point, Fauci interrupts and says: “I just want, there’s an answer to this.”

Fauci says the following: “The small print here. It’s really small print. ‘In states with evidence of community transmission, bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be closed.’”

This was obviously a very startling thing to say—it means the end of regular life—but it is not clear that Trump was paying attention. A reporter asked a follow-up question. “So Mr. President, are you telling governors in those states then to close all their restaurants and their bars?”

Trump says: “Well we haven’t said that yet ... we’re recommending things. No, we haven’t gone to that step yet. That could happen, but we haven’t gone there yet.”

I take from this exchange that Trump did not believe that he was calling for lockdowns. However, he believed that he might. And yet Fauci himself had just read from the CDC guidelines that called for exactly that.

Curious, I looked up the guidelines to which Fauci referred. It is a two-page PDF that was sent all over the country, the one labeled “15 Days to Flatten the Curve.”

They are here reproduced in graphic form:

The only part that truly matters is the section with a black background with white print, the part that looks like boilerplate fluff. It was not. It was the scraping of freedom itself.

As he demonstrated at the press conference, Fauci knew this fine print was there. He might even have been the one to make sure it was there and that it was too small for Trump to read. No question that Trump had no idea that it was there. He makes clear in the press conference that he didn’t know it was there. Even after Fauci highlighted its existence, Trump remained oblivious.

What does the fine print say? It’s the full loaf: lockdown.

“School operations can accelerate the spread of the coronavirus. Governors of states with evidence of community transmission should close schools in affected and surrounding areas. Governors should close schools in communities that are near areas of community transmission, even if those areas are in neighboring states. In addition, state and local officials should close schools where coronavirus has been identified in the population associated with the school. States and localities that close schools need to address childcare needs of critical responders, as well as the nutritional needs of children.”
“Older people are particularly at risk from the coronavirus. All states should follow Federal guidance and halt social visits to nursing homes and retirement and long-term care facilities.”
“In states with evidence of community transmission, bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be closed.”

Consider the implications of this. Your mother is in the nursing home that you are paying for. But now you are even banned by the government from visiting. It’s an utterly shocking violation of human rights. You are deploying the state to separate families, as in a dystopian novel. It’s a death sentence.

As for schools, astounding. There was never any evidence that schools spread death and, in any case, we already knew that the risk of COVID to kids is near zero. Sweden never closed schools and not a single death resulted. And yet in the United States, the kids were denied education and likely traumatized for life.

As for the last sentence banning all gatherings—sports, weddings, funerals, gyms, malls—and completely wrecking all enterprise, this is an edict worthy of history’s most horrible despots in the annals of history.

And it was all buried right there in tiny print, so small the president of the United States didn’t even read it. What’s more, no one in his inner circle at the time read it. Surely, Fauci and Birx knew it was there. Any reporter in the room could have read it. It was only a few sentences but they overrode the U.S. Constitution, all American law, plus 500 years of progress in rights and liberties. And it came to America in small print!

What happened then? State health departments took the two-pager and rendered the small print into larger print. Here is a screen shot of the order from the state of Georgia.

The small print quickly became the large print that transformed life for everyone. You think there was no plot here? That this was just some mistake that somehow caused the end of America to be buried in the fine print? Wise up. This is a level of malice that is truly boundless.

As for Deborah Birx, she admits later in her book that the idea of 15 Days was always a trick. “No sooner had we convinced the Trump administration to implement our version of a two-week shutdown than I was trying to figure out how to extend it,” she admits.

This was how the chaos in American life began: in small print. Very quickly, this small print was extended to the entire world. And then extended to two years. And now we face a devastating economic, cultural, and political crisis. The population is demoralized and hope is nearly lost.

Who to blame? Anthony Fauci’s fingerprints are all over this sadistic caper, but he denies having anything to do with it.

It’s our fault, he says: We didn’t read the fine print.

Jeffrey A. Tucker is the founder and president of the Brownstone Institute, and the author of many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press, as well as 10 books in five languages, most recently “Liberty or Lockdown.” He is also the editor of The Best of Mises. He writes a daily column on economics for The Epoch Times and speaks widely on the topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.