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Dr. Anthony Fauci’s testimony before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic fueled partisan drama and misinformation.

The Daily Mail (Right bias) published an article with a headline stating that Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical advisor to the president, “confessed” to “making up” COVID-19 rules such as 6-feet social distancing. While outlets across the spectrum covered the testimony, only the Daily Mail has made such an assertion. 

There’s no evidence that Fauci said this directly. The Daily Mail’s headline implies that he did but cites no evidence. 

Transcripts of the hearing show no such quote. Based on testimony, a statement that Fauci “confesses the CDC made up COVID-19 rules” would be closer to the truth. Throughout the hearing, Fauci emphasized that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) made these decisions. 

During testimony, Fauci faced questions from legislators on both sides of the aisle. Many centered around how certain public health guidelines came to be and whether Fauci intentionally misled the public regarding the Wuhan lab leak theory.

Rep. John Joyce (R-PA), cited testimony from Fauci in January, where Fauci said the “6 feet” distance in the social distancing guidelines “just appeared.” Joyce then asked Fauci if the “subsequent regulations” that came from the 6 feet guideline could properly be justified by a guideline that “just appeared.” Fauci answered this and similar questions by saying it was a CDC decision:

Fauci: I don't want to be casting stones at the distortions of what was said in that, but you know, there were a couple of things that come to mind. You know, one I'm sure is going to come up later is the issue of the six-foot distance, and I made the statement that it just appeared and that got taken at, like, I don't know what's going on, it just appeared. It actually came from the CDC. The CDC was responsible for those kinds of guidelines for schools, not me. So when I said that it just appeared, it appeared. Was there any science behind it? What I meant by no science behind it is that there wasn't a control trial that said, “compare six foot with three feet with 10 feet,” so there wasn't that scientific evaluation of it. What I believe the CDC used for their reason to say six feet is that studies years ago showed that when you're dealing with droplets — which at the time that the CDC made that recommendation it was felt that the transmission was primarily through droplet not aerosol, which is incorrect, because we know now aerosol does play a role that's the reason why they did it — it had little to do with me, since I didn't make the recommendation, and my saying there was no science behind it means there was no clinical trial that proved that. 

Neither testimony in January nor the latest in June can corroborate the misleading information included in the headline provided by Daily Mail. 

It is always a good idea to do a little extra digging, but this holds especially true anytime an outlet reports something in a way that differs or stands apart from all other coverage. 

Johnathon Held is a News and Bias Assistant for AllSides. He has a Lean Right bias.

This article was reviewed by Joseph Ratliff , Content Designer and News Editor (Lean Left bias), and Isaiah Anthony , Deputy Blog Editor (Center bias).