How Elon Musk's anti-Fauci attacks are designed for the 'right-wing information ecosystem': columnist

How Elon Musk's anti-Fauci attacks are designed for the 'right-wing information ecosystem': columnist
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top White House medical adviser to President Joe Biden and long-time director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has been serving in the United States’ federal government since the late 1960s. Fauci, who will be celebrating his 82ndbirthday on December 24, 2022, has been in the United States’ federal government since the late 1960s. And he has never had a problem serving under conservative Republican presidents, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

The younger President Bush, in fact, had nothing but praise for Fauci when he presented him with the 2008 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

But during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fauci became a major target of the MAGA movement. Countless MAGA culture warriors, consumed with identity politics, have turned hating Fauci into a popular pastime. Tesla CEO and new Twitter own Elon Musk, who supported President Joe Biden in 2020 but often sounds very MAGA in his rhetoric, bashed the retiring NIAID director when, on December 11, he tweeted, “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci.”

READ MORE:Elon Musk dethroned as richest man in the world: report

Many Twitter users have been calling Musk out for that tweet. But liberal Washington Post opinion columnist Greg Sargent, in his December 13 column, stresses that Musk is unfazed by such critics because his motivation is appealing to the “right-wing information ecosystem.”

“By now, it should be obvious that for large swaths of the right-wing media ecosystem, the Triggering of the Libs has become an end in itself,” Sargent explains. “In the brutal competition of the so-called attention economy, provoking large-scale outrage and loathing is not an incidental feature of making controversial arguments. It has become a key marker of success.”

Sargent continues, “Over the weekend, Elon Musk called for the prosecution of Anthony S. Fauci, the leading infectious-disease expert in the Biden Administration. 'My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,' Musk tweeted, mocking transgender people for good measure. Musk then endorsed a complicated right-wing conspiracy theory about Fauci’s role in the COVID-19 pandemic. Democrats and other Musk critics reacted with an explosion of outrage.”

Twitter users who vigorously defended Fauci against Musk ranged from Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota to former CIA Director John O. Brennan. The latter told Musk, “Dr. Fauci is a national hero who will be remembered for generations to come for his innate goodness & many contributions to public health. Despite your business success, you will be remembered most for fueling public hate & divisions. You may have money, but you have no class.”

READ MORE: How Elon Musk is positioning himself as a 'hard-right culture warrior': journalists

Sargent stresses, however, that while Brennan and Klobuchar’s defenses of Fauci are “reasonable,” they also “seem fundamentally out of touch with basic realities of how right-wing information warfare really works.”

“This sort of info-warring, at bottom, is what characterizes Musk’s transformation into the world’s richest right-wing troll,” Sargent explains. “Tons of pixels have been wasted on efforts to pin down Musk’s true beliefs, but whatever they are, we can say right now that he’s consciously exploiting fundamental features of the right-wing information ecosystem.”

Sargent adds that offending liberals is the whole point of an “info-warring” tweet like Musk’s December 11 attack on Fauci.

“It’s understandable that Musk’s critics are trying shaming and outrage, in that this could further drive advertisers away from Twitter,” Sargent writes. “But paradoxically, it might also help Musk…. In much of the right-wing info-ecosystem, liberal outrage is a sign of an attack’s effectiveness. It can be only confirmation that the Libs Were Owned. Shaming is useless in such an environment, and in some ways can backfire.”

READ MORE: Elon Musk’s epic bumbling is a daily reminder that America is not a meritocracy

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