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Fauci Helpful, Noem Self-Serving on Face the Nation

CBS’s Margaret Brennan held an intelligent and instructive conversation about how to respond to coronavirus with Dr. Anthony Fauci yesterday on Face the Nation. Dr. Fauci did what the show was created to do 67 years ago: he faced the nation and answered questions about important matters of public concern. Among the useful things he told the nation:

  1. He expects Johnson and Johnson will produce 20 million doses of its newly approved one-shot coronavirus vaccine by the end of this month (hey! happy March, everybody!) and 100 million by June.
  2. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is “highly efficacious”: take the shot, and you may still get sick, but the coronavirus won’t hospitalize or kill you.
  3. Logistics are a challenge, but the feds are putting up over 400 community vaccine centers—”pharmacies with many more doses… mobile units getting it to the poorly accessible areas”—staffed by “National Guards and others, retired physicians and nurses….”
  4. The last several days have seen declining infection numbers flatten out at a “concerning” 70,000 day. “That’s exactly the thing that happened during previous surges. As it peaked and started to come down, people withdrew some of the intensity of the public health measures and it kind of stabilized at a very high level. That’s very dangerous, particularly given the fact that we have these variants around, which is the reason why there are two things you can do to essentially counter that. One, continue to implement the public health measures that we talk about all the time: mask, distancing, avoiding congregate settings, but importantly, get as many people vaccinated as quickly and as expeditiously as you can.”
  5. We haven’t had time yet to do solid studies on whether people who’ve been vaccinated can still spread coronavirus, so for now, even if you’ve had the shot (just like we’ve told people who’ve had the disease), keep your mask up and keep your distance. (As Dr. James Hamblin writes in The Atlantic, our return to normal life “does not arrive for individuals, one by one, as soon as they’ve been vaccinated; it comes for all of us at once, when a population becomes immune.”)

Brennan played a clip of Governor Kristi Noem in Florida Saturday getting a noisy ovation from a conservative crowd for saying “Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot” and asked the President’s chief medical advisor if such sentiment is “an impediment… to the nation’s recovery.” Dr. Fauci responded with aplomb:

You know, it’s- it’s unfortunate, but it is- it is not really helpful because sometimes you think things are going well and just take a look at the numbers. They don’t lie. We see, Margaret, what happens when you pull back prematurely. Now, you’re going to have individual instances of situations where people may not have and didn’t see a rebound right away. But you’ve really got to be careful, particularly now that we have variants in this country that seem to spread more efficiently and maybe even are more dangerous with regard to pathogenicity. So I’m sure that you can get a standing ovation by saying I’m wrong. But the fact- if you look at the scientific facts and follow what we need to do as these cases are coming down, the thing we don’t want is for them to do this and start plateauing at a level that’ll give us a lot of trouble. Go back and look historically at what happened when we tried to open up the economy and open up the country. And we saw a variable degree of adherence to the public health measures by different governors and different mayors. And what did happen? It went like this and then went right back up when we had yet again another surge. We just don’t want to see that. We don’t want to continue to prevent people from doing what they want to do. But let’s get down to a good level. Let’s get many, many more people vaccinated. And then you could pull back on those types of public health measures. But right now, as we’re going down and plateauing is not the time to declare victory because we’re not victorious yet. We will be [Dr. Anthony Fauci, interviewed by Margaret Brennan, Face the Nation, 2021.02.28].

Brennan then interviewed Governor Noem, who wanted to use her appearance to “Face the Nation” only in the sense that she wanted to put her face in front of the nation and repeat her talking points. Her comments were neither intelligent, instructive, nor responsive to the questions asked. The Governor engaged in evasion and whataboutism, then jumped to Twitter after the interview to portray efforts to go beyond her cheerleader act to get answers to hard questions as media attacks. Yes, poor Kristi, being asked how her reckless coronavirus approach squares with her professed dedication to protecting the sanctity of life:

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we played that clip from your speech. And in that speech, you also said you never instituted a mask order, shut any churches or businesses or even defined what an essential business is. As of today, the CDC says your state has the eighth highest death rate per capita in the US. That’s a rate of deaths per 100,000 residents. Don’t you think your decisions as an executive contributed?

GOV. NOEM: You know, South Dakota’s infection rate peaked earlier than a lot of other places in the country, so we’re definitely on the downward trend and earlier- and peaked earlier than what you’re seeing happen across the country as well. You know, you can talk about masks. We can talk about mitigation measures, all of that. What I’m against is–

MARGARET BRENNAN: These were CDC numbers as of today. And it was the death rate.

GOV. NOEM: –mandates. What I’m against is mandates that would tell people that- what they have to do. I want people to make those decisions for themselves. And we’ve seen the CDC change recommendations over and over and over again. In fact, we’ve seen them do it just based on political pressure. We follow the science, the data and the facts in South Dakota to make our decisions. And it’s been incredibly helpful to make sure that we’re taking care of people who need it when they get sick.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I was asking you about the death rate as of today, according to the CDC, not the infection rate, which you’re talking about. But one of your fellow Republicans, West Virginia’s governor, Jim Justice, held up your state as an example of what not to do when it comes to his decision to institute a mask mandate. He said, “I don’t want to be South Dakota.” Why do you think your state got hit so hard?

GOV. NOEM: Our state peaked earlier than other states, than his state, than New York, than California. They certainly are seeing much higher infection rates, much higher hospitalization rates and much higher deaths today than- than we are. And that’s really how we’ve seen this virus spread across the country. What I’d like to know, MARGARET, is why- are you asking Cuomo these questions?  Are you talking to Newsom about these questions, and how their mitigation measures–

MARGARET BRENNAN: When both of those governors accept an invitation to come on this program,–

GOV. NOEM: –of shutting down businesses- how did–

MARGARET BRENNAN: –and I hope they do, Madam. I really hope they say yes. And I really appreciate that you did to our invitation.

GOV. NOEM: Absolutely.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So that’s why I’m asking about your state. They have not said yes. So for your state, you have, if you look at starting in July, which was after that spring peak, you have the highest death rate in cumulative COVID deaths per million in the country. The CDC says you have the eighth highest death rate per capita now. I’m not talking about infection rates. I know you’re conservative and you care about the sanctity of life. So how can you justify making decisions that put the health of your constituents at risk?

GOV. NOEM: And those are questions that you should be asking every other governor in this country as well. The region that–

MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m asking you today, Madam. You’re our–

GOV. NOEM: –South Dakota’s in–

MARGARET BRENNAN: –you’re facing the nation.

GOV. NOEM: I’m answering you, MARGARET. I’m answering you. Regionally, we have seen the virus hit the country very differently and it hit the Midwest earlier than it did the South and now the East Coast and the West Coast. So we are still dealing with this virus in this country. South Dakota went through our highest rate of infections and implications earlier. The rest of the country is dealing with a- much higher numbers today. And that’s really what this means. What we should be looking at is did the mitigation measures help? Did mandating different actions in each of these states make a difference? Because what we’re seeing is that the mandates aren’t necessarily what’s working. It’s that people have the ability, the flexibility to not just look at this virus and how it hits their health, but also how does it impact their well-being,–


GOV. NOEM: –their- their economic well-being, their ability to keep their kids in school, their ability to keep up and pay their bills. That’s been incredibly challenging [Gov. Kristi Noem, interviewed by Margaret Brennan, Face the Nation, 2021.02.28].

We can trust Dr. Anthony Fauci to provide useful information on the coronavirus based on the best science available. We can trust Gov. Kristi Noem to babble and wilt in any media forum outside the Trump/Fox bubble.


  1. Jenny 2021-03-01 08:07

    It wasn’t Noem’s best interview. I am sure she was thinking, why did I say yes to this? Sturgis will forever haunt her.

    I will leave it at that.

  2. Nix 2021-03-01 08:37

    I wanted so much after the Dope Queen of Delusion sat there and said that she trusted the people of S. D. to make their own decisions , to have Ms. Brennan
    ask about the 62-2 Hemp vote that she
    Oh, ya, The people made the wrong decision there. Kristi said so.
    Then, she could have asked her about the Amendment A lawsuit and how she
    is subverting the will of the people.
    The screenshot on my TV must have been a bit out of focus or something because Noems inflated head barley
    fit on my big screen.

  3. Norma Wilson 2021-03-01 10:08

    Noem gave her typical performance, refusing to answer the questions posed by Brennan and denying that her failure to act responsibly has resulted in South Dakota’s high death rate from COVID.

  4. Mark Anderson 2021-03-01 10:28

    Come on Cory, please let her run for the Presidency. Hopefully she could do well with the base of idiots only to be wiped out in the general. Her performance on Face the Nation was indicative of that. However, she does so well with the trumpies, how can that be?

  5. Buckobear 2021-03-01 11:17

    At least she didn’t say she could see North Dakota from her house.

  6. Loren 2021-03-01 11:56

    What I would like to know is, “Have we seen the virus hit the country very differently and hit the Midwest earlier than it did the South and now the East Coast and the West Coast?” GeezLouise, how many times can you go back to the same talking point and not look like a political stooge or a wind-up Barbie doll? Sarah Palin, you no longer look like the dumbest kid on the block… close, but Kristi is in the running. (insert eye roll)

  7. Mike Livingston 2021-03-01 17:38

    Aborting unwanted embryos in the womb causes the kristy’s of the world to draw a line, while killing grandma in her room seems to be just fine.
    Watching her trumpeon responses to Margaret Brennan’s civil and appropriate questions was telling. Tumps signature lack of empathy and the three Ds deny, distract, and deflect. Lies lies lies and the lying liars that tell them. No dis Margaret, but I really miss Tim Russert at times like this.

  8. Mike Livingston 2021-03-01 18:02

    To have Dr. Fauci disparaged by Ellie Mae Clampets dumber cousin Klipsy must make the SDGOP so proud.

  9. T 2021-03-01 20:42

    PR person—-fail
    Interview fail
    I thought it was Kelly Anne in a wig ….sounded just like her, inflections… defiance ….and stupidity

  10. mtr 2021-03-01 21:36

    “And in that speech, you also said you never instituted a mask order, shut any churches or businesses or even defined what an essential business is.”

    Never instituted a mask order, but people were wearing masks. Never closed down churches or businesses but churches and businesses closed. Never defined essential businesses, but essential businesses (I am thinking grocery stores/pharmacies) determined themselves.

    I have a hard time understanding the premise of “My government did nothing and look everything turned out *fine*. As institutions did what government didn’t mandate them to do?”

  11. Mike Livingston 2021-03-01 21:56

    It is one thing to avoid the use of mandates, it is quite another to advocate for science denial and to lie to the people you are sworn to protect.

  12. sx123 2021-03-01 22:54

    What’s up with the expert bashing that seems to becoming more popular in the US lately?
    I wouldn’t ask Fauci to design my house just like I wouldn’t ask an architect for useful advice on combating a virus.
    I don’t get it other than some people like to believe what they want to be true, not what is true.

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