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Hot mics
Senate hearing was more important than the sound bite
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If you want to irritate people, asking about their finances is a good place to start. U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, MD (R-Kansas), proved that when he grilled Dr. Anthony Fauci Tuesday about how much he makes, at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Sen. Marshall cited a Forbes article that came out in December. His question was: “Dr. Fauci, according to Forbes your annual salary in 2020 was $434,312. You oversee $5 billion in federal research grants. As the highest-paid employee in the entire federal government, yes or no, would you be willing to submit to Congress and the public a financial disclosure that includes your past and current investments?”

“I don’t understand why you’re asking me that question,” Fauci responded. “My financial disclosure is public knowledge and has been so for the last 37 years or so. All you have to do is ask for it. You’re so misinformed, it’s extraordinary.”

Then, with his mic still “hot,” Fauci was heard muttering, “What a moron. Jesus Christ.”

Sen. Marshall later responded in a statement, “Calling me a moron during a Senate hearing may have alleviated the stress of the least trusted bureaucrat in America, but it didn’t take away from the facts.”

Here Marshall is correct; we don’t have Fauci’s numbers – yet. Forbes filed a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to get this information and a federal judge ordered production starting on February 1, 2022.

Questions about one’s finances are sure to generate heat. And “hot mics” are known to generate headlines and jokes on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

However, two questions Marshall asked before he got to Dr. Fauci’s finances are more interesting. “Question One” was really an attack, starting with, “Dr. Fauci, 59% of Americans do not have a favorable opinion of you.”

And Sen. Marshall followed up the exchange by saying, “Perception is reality and you are hurting the team right now. You are hurting the team right now.”

We disagree. Perception is not reality. There are those who want to create the perception that Dr. Fauci’s advice is bad and should be ignored. More troubling are those who want to portray him as a liar who supported a cabal’s experiments to create biological weapons – and possibly profited from it.

Sandwiched between Marshall’s questions 1 and 3 was a complex question about the origin of COVID-19 and a suggestion that Dr. Fauci lied under oath about gain-of-function experimentation that took place under Project Defuse at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Fauci’s answer begins, “Again, senator, it really pains me to have to point out to the American public how absolutely incorrect you are.”

But Marshall says, “The facts are on my side.”

Watch the question and response (posted on Twitter by Sen. Marshall) at 

Whatever the perceptions are, we need nonpartisan answers to questions about COVID-19. As Sen. Marshall says at the end of his own YouTube video about his research of the origins of the virus, “The American people, the entire world, deserve to know the truth.”