Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Trevor Noah, Dr. Anthony Fauci
Trevor Noah, Dr. Anthony Fauci
Screenshot: The Daily Show

Just to clear away any misconceptions, the one person you want to pay attention to concerning the coronavirus is not Donald Trump. Also toss out the following: anyone on the internet; Fox News; religious types blaming gay people for the disease; any civic leader who sounds like the mayor from Jaws; panicky bigots scapegoating Asian people for “weaponizing” the disease; anyone insisting that calling it “the Chinese virus” isn’t a racist attempt at such scapegoating; Alex Jones or Glenn Beck (good advice in any situation); and Donald Trump. Just putting that last one in there twice in an abundance of caution. Nope, the one guy who’s emerged as the no-bullshit voice of sanity, science, and practical, patriotically factual advice on the current pandemic is Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, infectious disease expert, advisor to six presidents, and, in his own irascibly endearing immunity to political sway and spin, sort of like a diminutive Larry David that you never want to strangle.

Appearing (via responsibly remote video chat) on Trevor Noah’s new normal Daily Show—shot in Noah’s apartment and retitled The Daily Social Distancing Show—the good doctor was, as ever, only too happy to explain the whole, world-disrupting coronavirus mess with his signature blend of calm reassurance and head-smacking “don’t be completely stupid” admonitions. And Noah, repeatedly expressing gratitude for Fauci’s time in talking to his viewers, largely left the politics of this whole mismanaged shitshow out of the extended segment. Instead, he did what most of us would do if we had the genial and somehow still not-fired-by-Trump doctor to ourselves for a quarter-hour, asking a precise and comprehensive series of questions in an attempt to pin down the whirling cloud of fears and doubts about the virus that make sitting responsibly home alone into an exercise in barely suppressed panic-sweat.

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Not that the politics of a preternaturally egomaniacal and irresponsible dingbat being in charge of the nation’s messaging and response to this unprecedented-in-our-lifetimes health disaster are far from any such discussion, but Noah and Fauci offered up a substantive, even-tempered, and almost wholly Trump-free rundown of what the coronavirus is, how it’s spread, and what the prognosis is for its retreat. That said, Noah did have to ask about people recklessly spreading anecdotal (and deadly) tales of untested anti-COVID medical cures, which is something any host has to do when Donald Trump is the one doing the bullshit-spreading. And, sure, Dr. Fauci was called upon to debunk the idea that announcing an outside-by-Easter, 15-day target date for reopening every business and public space in America is just Donald Trump pulling numbers out off his ass. (Not Dr. Fauci’s exact words, but, still.) And Fauci, while cautioning that the country is now in the position of “catching up on things that weren’t done so well in the beginning,” studiously avoided pointing any fingers, although, as with everything the heroically busy guy says in this time of otherwise-rudderless national crisis, that circumspection seemed more about focusing on what’s actually important than covering his ass or protecting his job. Because, as shown once more on Noah’s homebound Daily Show, apart from protecting every single person in the United States from infectious disease, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci doesn’t give a fuck.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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