Nov 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump adviser Scott Atlas apologizes for appearing on RT

Dr. Scott Atlas, member of the White House's coronavirus task force. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
Scott Atlas, member of the White House's coronavirus task force. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

President Trump's favorite coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas apologized on Twitter for appearing Saturday on Russia’s state-controlled RT network, where he insisted that the U.S. is turning the corner on the pandemic and that lockdowns are actually “killing people.”

Why it matters: RT, formerly known as Russia Today, is a Russian state-owned media outlet registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. This means that all of its content is labeled as propaganda attempting to influence U.S. public opinion, policy and laws.

  • Atlas appeared on RT just hours after the Washington Post released an interview with Anthony Fauci, who criticized Atlas for his controversial views on the pandemic.
  • “I have real problems with that guy,” Fauci told the Post. “He’s a smart guy who’s talking about things that I believe he doesn’t have any real insight or knowledge or experience in. He keeps talking about things that when you dissect it out and parse it out, it doesn’t make any sense.”

The big picture: Atlas, a radiologist, has drawn criticism for reportedly promoting "herd immunity" as a COVID-19 strategy and for casting doubt on the effectiveness of masks, which studies show can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

  • “The public health leadership … they’re killing people with their fear-inducing shutdown policies,” Atlas said on RT.
  • He also described lockdowns as an “epic failure of public policy by people who refuse to accept they were wrong.”

Driving the news: "I recently did an interview with RT and was unaware they are a registered foreign agent," Atlas tweeted. "I regret doing the interview and apologize for allowing myself to be taken advantage of. I especially apologize to the national security community who is working hard to defend us."

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