The lengthy career of Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, was the focus of a documentary released Tuesday night.
PBS aired American Masters: Dr. Tony Fauci, a nearly two-hour documentary that delves into Fauci’s 50-year career in medicine and public health, particularly focusing on his leadership during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2020s.
The TV series, which has been airing since 1986, features profiles of celebrities, public figures and leaders.
Throughout the pandemic, Fauci’s profile rose to unprecedented heights for a public health official as the country dealt with its most challenging viral crisis in more than a century. The documentary crew started following Fauci in January 2021, coinciding with the start of the Biden administration and a fraught period during a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 1.1 million Americans.
Despite his best efforts, Fauci became a polarizing figure during the crisis. He was adored by millions for communicating public health advice in an effort to contain the spread of the infections. Still, he drew the ire of critics who accused him of botching the federal response to the outbreak and tagging him with conspiracy theories related to the virus’ origins and the subsequent rollout of vaccines.
In an interview with 60 Minutes in the fall of 2020, Fauci said that while he regularly goes on power walks, he is now accompanied by a security detail due to a litany of death threats he and his family have received.
Fauci ultimately retired from the NIAID at the end of 2022, leaving the organization he had led since 1984.
At the end of 2022, Musk tweeted that his preferred pronouns were “Prosecute/Fauci,” adding that “Truth resonates.”
In interviews ahead of the documentary’s release, Fauci reflected on his tenure at NIAID, recent developments in the COVID-19 pandemic and offered his parting thoughts on the criticisms he has received over the past three years.
“…if I have a message for people, it’s that we have got to figure out a way to not hate each other. I mean, particularly when you’re in the middle of a pandemic that has already killed a million Americans, fighting with each other and hating each other is the worst possible outcome,” he told The Daily Beast.