NIH official to 'retire' after being ID'd as author of anti-Fauci posts on right-wing blog
Posted September 21, 2020 4:20 p.m. EDT
CNN — A public affairs official at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will "retire" after a news report identified him as the anonymous author of blog posts on a conservative website that disparaged Dr. Anthony Fauci and mocked the use of masks, a spokesperson for the health agency said Monday.
The Daily Beast reported Monday that William Crews, who worked in NIAID's communications branch, is a managing editor working under a pseudonym for the right-wing opinion website RedState who had mocked Fauci as a "mask Nazi" and described wearing face coverings as "a political statement."
"NIAID first learned of this matter this morning, and Mr. Crews has informed us of his intention to retire," a NIAID spokesperson told CNN. "We have no further comments on this as it is a personnel matter."
The NIAID spokesperson then referred CNN to policies at NIAID's parent agency, the National Institutes of Health, and federal ethics regulations about using government time and equipment for unauthorized purposes.
An NIH official familiar with the matter told CNN that the agency confirmed The Daily Beast's report that Crews was the person writing for RedState.
Phone calls and emails to Crews were not returned. CNN also sent an email to the RedState account identified by The Daily Beast as belonging to Crews, but did not receive an immediate response.
Jonathan Garthwaite, the vice president of RedState's parent company, Townhall Media, also did not respond to an email seeking comment.
The Daily Beast's Lachlan Markay, who broke the story for the news website, said he was able to identify Crews as the RedState editor through public records, social media postings and, internal NIH records.
"It illustrates the extent to which the response to the pandemic has become deeply politicized, even within the agencies at the front lines of fighting it," Markay wrote. "Crews isn't just a civil servant anonymously disagreeing with his bosses online; he's actively undermining their work and even suggesting retribution against them."