Chris Wallace questions Atlas comments on Trump
Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Friday questioned White House coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas’s medical credentials after Atlas reportedly told Fox that he expected President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to make “a complete, full and rapid recovery” after the two announced they tested positive for COVID-19 early Friday.
While speaking with Wallace on Friday morning, “America’s Newsroom” anchor Sandra Smith said that the broadcast network had obtained an exclusive interview with Atlas in which he said that he had an optimistic outlook on the president’s and first lady’s diagnosis.
“He said that he expects the president and the first lady to make ‘a complete, full and rapid recovery back to normal after his necessary confinement period,’ ” Smith said, quoting Atlas. “ ‘I anticipate [Trump] will be back on the road in full swing.’ He ultimately said, ‘He is a very, very healthy guy and the overwhelming majority of people even at his age do fine with this.’ ”
Wallace responded by noting that Atlas, a Stanford University neuroradiologist, has no prior experience in public health, and said the public shouldn’t automatically take Atlas at his word.
Smith touts an “exclusive interview” with Dr. Atlas
Wallace: I’m going to say something, I’m just giving the truth, Atlas is not an epidemiologist, not an infectious disease specialist, he has no training in this area
Atlas is on the WH task force because Trump saw him on Fox pic.twitter.com/efwJBuwhvs
— Lis Power (@LisPower1) October 2, 2020
“I’m going to say something and, folks, I’m just trying to give you the truth. Dr. Scott Atlas is not an epidemiologist, is not an infectious disease specialist, he has no training in this area at all,” Wallace said. “There are a number of top people on the president’s coronavirus task force who have had grave concerns about Scott Atlas and his scientific bona fides.”
“I know I’m going to get a lot of pushback from this,” he continued. “I very much hope everything he says is true. One, he can’t know, because the president is just in the earliest stages of this. And two, I understand the desire of the White House and its political people to try to talk this down, and I’m not certainly trying to talk it up and I hope and pray the president is fine.”
“Follow the scientists,” Wallace added. “Listen to the independent people who do not have a political ax to grind, and I frankly don’t think Scott Atlas is one of those people.”
Public health experts both within and outside the administration have voiced concern over Atlas and his limited knowledge on public health issues.
Mark Rosenberg, who ran the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control from 1994 to 1999, said on Wednesday that “the only qualification he [Atlas] has is that he parrots what President Trump wants to hear. To me, that makes him doubly dangerous.”
Atlas first joined the White House’s coronavirus task force over the summer after multiple appearances on Fox News.
Wallace, who moderated the first presidential debate between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday, also said to Smith on Friday, “The debate commission had decided there would be no opening handshake, and thank God for that. They were about eight feet apart from each other at their podiums.”
Wallace added that he “never got any closer to [Trump] than what you saw on TV,” and was about eight feet away from each candidate.