Chief medical adviser to the president has served under six White House administrations
According to Dr Fauci, he received the advice in 1984 when he was asked to visit the White House to speak with President Ronald Reagan about the HIV crisis, shortly after he became the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Prior to his visit to the White House, Dr Fauci sought the advice of a good friend and colleague, according to Insider, which reports that the 80-year-old’s guidance came from someone who had “worked in the Nixon-era White House”.
In response to Dr Fauci’s question: “Do you got any advice for me, as I go down there to brief the president?” the friend reportedly responded: “One of the things you’ve gotta do, is every time you open up the door to the West Wing to go into the White House, tell yourself that you’ve got to be comfortable with the fact that this may be the last time you’re going to open the door and walk into the White House.”
According to Dr Fauci, he has relied on the advice for every White House visit since because it reminds him to tell the truth rather than being worried about whether he will be invited back.
“If you go in there wanting very much to be asked back, you may wind up telling the president – or some of the president’s people – something that’s not really the truth, but something that you think they might want to hear just so that you don’t offend them,” Dr Fauci said, according to Insider.
“It was just: go with the truth, go with the evidence, and don’t be afraid to tell somebody something that they may not want to hear,” he added.
The advice has been especially useful amid the Covid pandemic, with Dr Fauci acknowledging that he was often asked by Donald Trump why he was “so negativistic”.
“There were a couple of times where I would make a statement that was a pessimistic viewpoint about what direction we were going, and the president would call me up and say ‘Hey, why aren’t you more positive?’” Dr Fauci recalled. “‘You’ve got to take a positive attitude. Why are you so negativistic? Be more positive.’”
However, Dr Fauci continued to adhere to his friend’s advice, reminding himself that he would continue to tell the truth each time he entered the White House.
Throughout his lengthy career, the immunologist has served six presidents.