The White House on Monday condemned social media attacks against Anthony Fauci days after Twitter owner Elon Musk posted a tweet mocking the infectious diseases expert.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, asked about Musk’s tweets criticizing Fauci, called them “personal attacks” that are “incredibly dangerous.”
“They are disgusting, and they are divorced from reality, and we will continue to call that out and be very clear about that,” Jean-Pierre said, noting Fauci has served under seven presidents, both Republicans and Democrats.
“We are fortunate that he has devoted his career and his life and his exceptional talent to America’s public health, and that’s what should be discussed right now,” she continued. “That’s what we should be thankful to him about, and, again, these are incredibly dangerous and should be called out.”
Musk over the weekend caused a stir when he tweeted, “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” and shared a meme edited to show Fauci telling Biden, “Just one more lockdown, my king.”
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Musk called concern over the virus “dumb,” and after he took over the company in late October, he did away with Twitter’s policies about COVID-19 misinformation.
Fauci, who is retiring at the end of the year after decades as the government’s top expert on infectious diseases and two years leading President Biden’s COVID-19 response, has been a target among conservatives who blame him for overly prescriptive policies to slow the spread of the virus.
Fauci has said he and his family have been the subject of threats dating back to the start of the pandemic, when he would occasionally clash with then-President Trump and some of his advisers about the pandemic response.