One of the Trump administration’s flacks at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases secretly trashed the agency under the persona “streiff” for the right-wing blog RedState, according to a Monday report by the Daily Beast. He is now planning to “retire.”
The official in question, public affairs specialist William B. Crews, wrote on RedState that the agency’s chief and public face of the White House coronavirus task force, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is “attention-grubbing and media-whoring.” He also blasted federal health officials as “the public health Karenwaffen,” a portmanteau referencing a insult for an entitled and/or bigoted white woman and the infamous Nazi S.S., for encouraging business closures, social distancing, and wearing face coverings or masks in public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic. In other writings, the Washington Post reported, Crews claimed there has “never been a need” for face masks and promoted a fabricated theory that Fauci helped create the virus in collaboration with China.
According to Crews, the entire public health response to the crisis is nothing more than an insidious plot to undermine—you guessed it!—the blameless President Donald J. Trump and that those responsible should be tortured to death. Per the Daily Beast:
“I think we’re at the point where it is safe to say that the entire Wuhan virus scare was nothing more or less than a massive fraud perpetrated upon the American people by ‘experts’ who were determined to fundamentally change the way the country lives and is organized and governed,” Crews wrote in a June post on RedState.
“If there were justice,” he added, “we’d send and [sic] few dozen of these fascists to the gallows and gibbet their tarred bodies in chains until they fall apart.”
This is pretty much identical to the line coming from other Trump goons involved in the administration’s ongoing efforts to revise federal scientific findings on the novel coronavirus, which is now estimated to have infected over 6.8 million people in the U.S. and killed almost 200,000 or more of those people. (These numbers are likely massive undercounts.)
Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Caputo, a member of the president’s 2016 campaign with no medical credentials to speak of, claimed earlier this month there are “ulterior deep state motives in the bowels of [the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention],” invoking a wild conspiracy theory that traitorous liberals are orchestrating a plot to force Trump out of office. Caputo’s comments came at around the same time as reports that HHS was routinely interfering to modify CDC scientific findings to be more politically palatable to the White House. Caputo also uploaded Facebook videos accusing CDC scientists of sedition and urging Trump supporters to stock up on firearms. Caputo has since taken a “medical” leave of absence.
In other posts in July, Crews wrote that Fauci should be condemned for his role in the “unreasoning panic inflicted upon us by the public health nazis,” claimed the CDC was a “hotbed of progressive activity,” and compared mask mandates to the Holocaust. Crews also repeatedly issued bogus predictions about the coronavirus on RedState, including a post in early March claiming he wouldn’t be concerned until there were 18,000 deaths from the pandemic and another in June proclaiming there wouldn’t be a “huge spike” in cases over the summer (spoiler: that is exactly what happened).
Crews also posted a homophobic diatribe about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, suggesting that it was exaggerated for political purposes and that wearing a mask is merely some kind of cosmopolitan fashion statement. The Daily Beast wrote:
Wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, he wrote last month, is “a political statement” akin to “wearing the red ribbon when AIDS was a huge deal, and we were supposed to believe that you can have an epidemic without having casual transmission of a virus (sorry, in most areas of the world’s landmass outside a San Francisco bathhouse, butt sex is not considered ‘casual’).”
Trump’s continued opposition to face masks—he recently rebuked CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield for suggesting their use might be more effective than a preliminary SARS-CoV-2 vaccine—is obviously motivated by his desire to cover up the scale of the pandemic rather than science. Extensive medical research shows that face masks are effective in limiting the spread of the coronavirus, which has been affirmed by the CDC and is why mask mandates imposed by state and local across the U.S. are surging. As for the HIV epidemic somehow not being a “huge deal,” between 1981 and 2019, HIV is estimated to have killed over 700,000 Americans, and the CDC estimates about 1.2 million people living in the U.S. had HIV at the end of 2018.
The “vast majority” of articles Crews filed to RedState were published during the work week and “often” during normal business hours, which is rather curious as National Institutes of Health ethics policies explicitly forbid performing outside activities at work, according to the Daily Beast. Crews posted up to five articles a day.
Evidence linking the “streiff” account to Crews’s LinkedIn page include mutual references to stints with a U.S. Army infantry units and the same listed Gmail account, as well as connections on LinkedIn to RedState staff, according to the Beast. Crews also stated on multiple occasions that he was involved in National Institutes of Health projects on his pseudonymous Twitter account.
A NIAID spokesperson told CNN that the agency “first learned of this matter this morning, and Mr. Crews has informed us of his intention to retire. We have no further comments on this as it is a personnel matter.” However, the spokesperson did direct CNN to review the NIH guidelines about performing outside work on the clock or on government equipment.