CNN anchor defends calling Rand Paul an ‘a–‘ for grilling Fauci on Wuhan lab funding following NIH admission

CNN anchor Brianna Keilar expressed no contrition over calling Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., an “a–” for grilling Dr. Anthony Fauci about the U.S. funneling money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the suspected site of the coronavirus pandemic’s origination.

Paul has focused much questioning and criticism on whether or not U.S. taxpayers were funding risky gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab, something the NIAID director vehemently denied. 

In May, Keilar went after Paul for his aggressive “WWE” approach. 

“Nothing brings out Senator Paul’s propensity to act like an a– like a congressional appearance by Fauci,” Keilar said. 

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She later added, “Like Elvis’ Kentucky Rain, Rand Paul’s COVID BS keeps pouring down, and it’s enough to fill the swimming pool in the Senate gym.”

However, Fauci has been facing renewed scrutiny after the National Institutes of Health sent a letter to Oversight Committee ranking member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., admitting to a “limited experiment” conducted in order to test if “spike proteins from naturally occurring bat coronaviruses circulating in China were capable of binding to the human ACE2 receptor in a mouse model” – contradicting Fauci’s previous claims.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2021. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2021. 
(Stefanie Reynolds / Reuters)

Sen. Paul’s wife Kelley Paul called out the CNN anchor on Twitter as well as CBS’ Gayle King over their past coverage of Fauci. 

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“While Rand has been demanding transparency from Fauci for over a year, lowbrow hacks like @brikeilarcnn responded by calling Rand an a** on air. Giggling @GayleKing fangirled Fauci and ridiculed Rand, ignoring the point of his questions. Have any comments now, Gayle and Brianna?” Paul asked on Friday. 

That caught the attention of the CNN anchor, who told the senator’s wife, “I stand by my characterization of Sen. Paul.”

Keilar argued the letter did not vindicate the GOP lawmaker, writing, “The theory Paul constructs, that Fauci’s covering up how covid is a man made virus unleashed on the world by the Obama administration because of a NIH research grant awarded in 2014, is not supported by this letter. It’s actually disproven by the information in the letter.” She did, though, acknowledge the “alarming new info” about the gain-of-function research conducted by EcoHealth Alliance, which funded it through NIH grants, as “potentially dangerous.”

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Sen. Rand Paul questions top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol hill in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2021. 

Sen. Rand Paul questions top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol hill in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2021. 
(J. Scott Applewhite / Reuters)

“Now to the a– thing. Seeing as Paul is verifiably full of it I do think it’s an apt metaphor. He claimed NYC had ‘community immunity’ from covid when the immunity level was estimated at a meager 22%. He told Americans at the height of the pandemic to throw away their masks,” Keilar tweeted. “Sen. Paul also jeopardized the health of others, visiting the senate gym while awaiting a covid test result that would later turn out positive. And at the height of the pandemic he walked around the senate floor without wearing a mask.”

“Dr. Fauci and American public health officials should answer questions about oversight of this US-funded research. No public official is immune from scrutiny. But Sen. Paul, a bloviator of misinformation, is certainly not the man for that job,” Keilar later added. 

Kelley Paul fired back, “Rand has been the ONLY person asking these questions. Your network certainly wasn’t. Yet when he did, you resorted to silly name-calling of Rand instead of reporting on the content of his questions or Fauci’s obfuscations. Bloviator of misinformation? Look in the mirror!”

Other critics torched the “New Day” co-host for lacking professionalism and journalistic ethics. 

“It’s easy to point out these people operate without an ounce of introspection, or shame. But shamelessness, while embarrassing, is secondary, to the reality here: CNN spreads misinformation under the guise of stopping misinformation. When called out, they double down,” Fourth Watch media critic Steve Krakauer reacted. 

“The contorting side juvenile behavior by Brianna is a requirement to live in Zuckerville. How does that help anyone other than driving clicks and hate?” NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck asked, alluding to CNN president Jeff Zucker. 

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New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz tweeted Keilar “admits the NIH covered up important information but can’t make the leap that they did so here too because then she’d have to admit she was obnoxiously wrong about Rand Paul.”

“Rand Paul didn’t wear a mask and therefore he cannot question Anthony Fauci about his role and relationship with EcoHealth Alliance. This is not a journalist,” The Spectator contributing editor Stephen Miller wrote. 

“I will believe CNN is serious about this when the next time Fauci comes on air, they ask him about this. Hint: They’ve not done that over the last 20 months of the pandemic. Not once,” National Review contributor Pradheep J. Shanker tweeted.

Keilar’s unapologetic response to her commentary appears to be part of CNN’s playbook.

Last week, the liberal network issued a fiery statement against podcast giant Joe Rogan after he accused the network of “lying” about his use of ivermectin amid his recovery from COVID after several anchors and pundits referred to it as “horse dewormer” and a “livestock drug,” even though it was the human form of the treatment that was prescribed to him by a doctor. 

CNN's Brianna Keilar. (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon)

CNN’s Brianna Keilar. (Photo by Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images for Politicon)

“The heart of this debate has been purposely confused and ultimately lost,” CNN told Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple on Thursday. “It’s never been about livestock versus human dosage of Ivermectin. The issue is that a powerful voice in the media, who by example and through his platform, sowed doubt in the proven and approved science of vaccines while promoting the use of an unproven treatment for covid-19 — a drug developed to ward off parasites in farm animals.” 

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“The only thing CNN did wrong here was bruise the ego of a popular podcaster who pushed dangerous conspiracy theories and risked the lives of millions of people in doing so,” the network added. 

Notably, CNN’s statement did not address the stunning admission made by its chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who told Rogan his colleagues should not have characterized ivermectin the way they did. 

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