Dr. Fauci on Redacted Mark Zuckerberg Emails: 'Friendly and Innocent'

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spoken out about the content of his emails with Mark Zuckerberg after they were published online earlier in June.

In an interview with The New York Times' Kara Swisher on Monday's Sway podcast, Fauci dismissed claims he was suppressing speech related to COVID, stating: "Any thought of that is total conspiracy theory and total flight of fantasy."

Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official and medical adviser to President Joe Biden, has become a conspiracy-theory target in recent weeks after thousands of his emails were released to Buzzfeed and The Washington Post via a Freedom of Information Act request.

The emails, released June 1, run from January to June 2020. They provide an insight into how Fauci handled the U.S. health crisis in its early stages, as well as how his approach changed as new data emerged over time.

Many Republicans have used the email dump as ammunition for criticism.

Some of the released emails show correspondence with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, in which he offers to provide a platform to Fauci to answer questions about the pandemic and "get authoritative information out."

The emails led Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees to ask Facebook to hand over communication between the two.

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan told Fox Business News he feared Fauci and Zuckerberg could have cooperated to suppress free speech. Jordan said: "Why is this big tech platform working in cahoots with the government to suppress certain types of information that we now know was pretty darn credible?"

Describing the contents of the emails, Fauci told Swisher: "Mark said, 'hey, is there anything that we can do to help out to get the messages out, the right public health messages? I have a very important medium here in Facebook. Can I help? And as a matter of fact, if you guys don't have enough resources and money to do some of the things you want, just let us know.'"

Fauci said Zuckerberg's email was "about as friendly and innocent an email as you could possibly imagine."

Fauci also denied that he had personally redacted parts of his email conversations with Zuckerberg and said he is not responsible for censoring his own emails.

"Well, I don't know who redacted [the emails]," he told Swisher. "When people ask for my emails, I don't look through my emails and say, 'okay, I'll give you this one and redact this.' It's completely out of my control."

In a June 9 tweet, Facebook communications director Andy Stone said the contents of the redacted parts of the email related to a plan to "share Facebook ad credits with government agencies to help them run coronavirus PSAs [public service announcements]."

In the redacted part of the email, Zuckerberg told Dr. Fauci of our plan – which we’d described in our company blog weeks earlier – to share Facebook ad credits with government agencies to help them run coronavirus PSAs.

— Andy Stone (@andymstone) June 9, 2021
Dr Fauci speaking
Dr Fauci pictured speaking at a US Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington D.C., June 2020. Thousands of Fauci's emails were published in June. Kevin Dietsch/Pool / AFP / Getty