By now you’ve probably seen articles and posts about this interview in which Dr. Anthony Fauci of the CDC supposedly “schools” Elisabeth Hasselbeck for asking what we are to assume are ignorant questions intended to gin up the general level of panic over the Ebola virus. I read the transcribed portions of the interview that have been circulating along with the video and then decided to watch the footage for myself. What I discovered was that the “transcription” has been heavily edited to make Fauci’s responses seem curt and dismissive, when in fact he takes a long time to answer and acknowledges that her questions are “understandable.”
What I see in this video is neither a public humiliation of Hasselbeck nor a failed attempt at a “gotcha” interview on her part, but rather, a respectful conversation about a serious issue with a level of civility and detail rare on television news these days.
I appreciate the questions she asks him, and I find his answers reassuring, reasoned, and humane. Perhaps another, more sophisticated interviewer would have hesitated to ask these questions for fear of seeming ignorant or maybe insensitive to people in West Africa.
There are three kinds of stupid questions: a) the ones that don’t get asked b) the inflammatory ones that Fox personalities invent for the purpose of spreading fear and hatred, such as the “specusation” Laura Ingraham tossed out about President Obama’s “familial ties to Africa” making him reluctant to impose restrictions on travel and c) the ones Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly ask guests only to interrupt, insult and ultimately silence them before they can respond. Hasselbeck did none of these things.
Fox News may be responsible for generating panic and misinformation about Ebola in general, but this interview with Hasselbeck provided Fauci with a forum for putting some of the myths and misinformation to bed.