In Plain Sight

Ty Wycoff
9 min readAug 6, 2020

What Dr. Fauci, Bill Gates, and the Deep State All Have In Common

As the US surpasses 150,000 COVID-19 related deaths, several conspiracies about the virus have emerged. Ranging from Bill Gates’ alleged depopulation plan to the CDC cooking the numbers to throw the President’s reelection, the river of various narratives, theories, and hot takes on the virus is wide. But there exists one common thread that weaves through them all.

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How We Got Here

To understand this common thread, let’s briefly go back to the beginning. The President made a series of choices that led to the U.S.’ failed response to the virus. Between abandoning states to their own inadequate resources, repurposing the coronavirus task-force to issue non-binding guidelines for reopening, threatening governors who did not open quickly enough, and, crucially, fumbling scaled testing efforts, the President consistently ignored health experts and economists. As the evidence mounted against his unwarranted optimism, he defied.

The result? 40 states saw increased cases while over 50 hospitals in Florida hit ICU capacity at the beginning of July. In recent days, Houston, Texas, has finally pushed through an initial surge, but is remaining vigilant. After a dark summer where weekly positivity rates for testing went from 5% in early May to 22% by the end of June and use of ventilators and ICU beds broke records, Arizona is now seeing declines after Governor Ducey issued an executive order on business closures. But the virus continues to gain ground. California hospitals, for example, continue to battle PPE and bed shortages while they face an “unprecedented siege” brought on by the resurgence.

The outbreak has outpaced our ability to test and if trends continue, COVID-19 could potentially become the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. by the end of the year.

The President Owns the Crisis

Let me be clear: Donald Trump is not responsible for the virus, and other governments, organizations, and entities all have their share to take ownership of in failed response, too. Donald Trump is responsible for the U.S.’ response, however. For better or for worse, Presidents own the crisis. He is the executive leader of the U.S. and he is the decision-maker, and its why we are where we are today.

A Feverish Work

More damaging than the President’s inaction what the the administration is attempting to do now. This week, the President attacked Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus task-force coordinator, after she warned that the virus was “extraordinarily spread.” On July 14th, the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Peter Navarro, wrote a scathing op-ed where he accused Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, of being “wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.”

“When I was working feverishly on behalf of the president in February to help engineer the fastest industrial mobilization of the health care sector in our history, Fauci was still telling the public the China virus was low risk.”

Aside from the poor word choice for describing his own work, Navarro and the White House’s continued attacks on the doctor all rely on stripping Fauci’s statements out of context. But why? Why go after Anthony Fauci?

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Navarro seems to have been working so hard that he apparently missed when the President said the exact same thing at the time.

And thats the point: If someone else is to blame, then the President isn’t- even when, or especially when, he’s guilty of exactly of the same thing he and the administration accuse others of. More on that in a moment.

The inconsistency in messaging and undercutting his own administration proved to be fertile ground for conspiracy theories, sometimes pushed by the President himself, as he retweeted television host Chuck Woolery’s “concerns” that even the CDC was lying in an effort throw the President’s reelection chances.

The administration is indeed engaged in a ‘feverish’ work: To undercut any criticism, scrutiny, and otherwise shutdown any questions about the President’s handling of the virus.

But what does this have to do conspiracy theories?

The Common Denominator

When the President changed the narrative regarding the virus in late March, the wind shifted and the fields caught fire. In May, a video called Plandemic spread like wildfire across social media platforms despite being riddled with inconsistencies, distortions, and outright lies. The video, along with numerous other narratives involving 5G towers, Bill Gates, vaccinations, and the ‘Deep State,’ has budded as a narrative to further support for the idea that the virus is either a hoax or not as bad as experts are warning.

But each of these theories all have a common denominator. Whether it’s about Fauci, Bill Gates, the Deep State, or any number of anti-government theories, they all share the same outcome:

Leaving Donald Trump, the executive leader of that government, blameless.

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Providing cover for the President, each of these narratives either paint him an innocent victim to an agenda that seeks to out him (See: Chuck Woolery) or implicitly do so by not mentioning Trump at all, as if he has no influence or the responsibility of decision-making whatsoever. Angered by the orchestration of a pandemic by a global cabal of elitists to force compliance, we can now focus our rage on the shadows and look the other way while the President’s glaring inability to govern rears its ugly head.

Chasing Shadows Or Asking Real Questions

The narratives around 9/11 come to mind, wherein a massive government operation entrenched in mystery is far more interesting than the very real exploitation of the tragedy. The Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq on questionable intelligence that allegedly linked Saddam Hussein to Osama bin Laden, resulted in a war that killed over 4,000 US service men and women.

If we are asking questions about something we cannot prove and will endlessly chase, how boring asking questions that demand real answers becomes, such as why no-bid contracts for oil well firefighting and operation in Iraq were given to a Halliburton subsidiary. Halliburton, of course, being a company whose CEO formally resigned in 2000 to join the Republican Presidential ticket as VP.

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Smoke Screens and Traffic Rings

This method of distraction applies to COVID-19 as well. After all, when we decry wearing a mask as federal overreach, we don’t have to account for the same when the President deploys federal agents in unmarked vehicles to arrest protesters.

But it doesn’t end with the coronavirus either. The same disorienting and dividing smoke screens span across the scandals that have plagued the Trump administration. We leap at the thought of Hunter Biden receiving a job he didn’t earn, for instance, but shrug our shoulders at Ivanka Trump being awarded trademarks by China the same day she and her father dined with President XI.

While Trump is apparently always “just about to” zero in on pedophile rings, we can conveniently ignore his endorsement and defense of former Senate candidate Roy Moore, credibly accused of the sexual assault of a 14 year-old girl, or Trump’s “wishing well” of Ghislaine Maxwell- Jeffrey Epstein’s foremost co-conspirator.

The emphasis on child trafficking in conspiracies that support the President are particularly notable, given that the Trump administration’s anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-immigration policies, particularly family separation, have exacerbated trafficking. That isn’t even to mention that the Trump administration gutted funding that supports survivors of trafficking, or that DOJ prosecutions of child traffickers have declined by 32% under the administration.

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The idea that we would have to choose between taking the virus seriously or being morally outraged by trafficking is, itself, morally outrageous. We can be, and we should be, morally preoccupied by both. This includes holding the administration accountable for its policies and having the reasonable expectation that the President of the United States won’t endorse alleged child predators running for the Senate or wish them well while they face charges on enticement of minors and sex trafficking.

Shifting Sands

This is seen in the way these narratives have shifted over time, like an eroding shoreline that shapes according to the waters. At the beginning of the pandemic, the President and many others considered COVID-19 to be no worse than the flu. You probably don’t hear that one much anymore, and for good reason: the novel coronavirus has now killed more than double the number of people in the U.S. than the flu kills in its worst years, and in less time.

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When the death toll climbed to new, devastating heights, the narrative changed: Now the arguments that deny the severity of the crisis involve minimizing the importance of the statistics, outright believing the counts are inflated, or stubbornly refusing to wear a mask because it doesn’t reduce one’s risk 100% — as if sleeping outside during a rainstorm is preferable because my ceiling has a leak in it.

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The Moral Pickpocket

Not all of these critiques are unfair. The messaging on masks, for instance, changed. But those changes were not random or arbitrary, and science has now had the chance to speak.

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Conspiracies force us to take a definitive stand on an issue we ourselves have little information about. They force us to turn the world black and white. We need big explanations for big events, and conspiracies help us feel more in control.

But it comes with a price. We could have had serious conversations about the economy, the shutdowns, social distancing, etc. We could have had, nay, needed to have, a serious conversation about the detriment to seniors, either from risking their lives going out or suffering relentless loneliness by staying in. These are serious moral issues to contemplate.

Tragically, however, instead of having those conversations, we chose to play along with the President’s buck passing. In doing do so, we abandoned health care providers and the most vulnerable Americans to a roll of the dice.

In the strongest of gestures, we signaled: You’re on your own.

All of this comes down to a fundamental issue: Donald Trump politicized a crisis that should have never been politicized. Those who wear masks are mocked by those who don’t for living in fear (though their fear of the federal government seems palpable) and those who don’t wear masks are castigated by those who do as selfish.

But soberly confronting a crisis is not the same thing as cowardice, just as willful blindness is not the same as courage.

Nonetheless, we have arrived in this place at the President’s prodding where there cannot be continuity between wisdom and compassion, or a middle ground between precaution and panic.

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Our sense of moral obligation has been pickpocketed; divided and leveraged to protect the President — the Office where the decisions fall.

Not unlike a real pickpocket scheme, when we realize that the answer was hiding in plain sight the entire time, it will be too late, and we will all have been robbed of whatever moral integrity we had left.

The Question That Remains

Whether or not Donald Trump can save himself electorally is to be decided, but as I’ve written recently, there may be no way out. However, the question that remains here is not an electoral one, but a moral one: Will we continue to trade our moral integrity for the enjoyment of outrage?

Asking questions is not wrong; it is wholly American to question everything that tumbles down from Capitol Hill. But wholesale distrust of the government should be met with the same skepticism as wholesale faith. When some refuse to hold Trump to same scrutiny in which they hold Fauci, their distrust of Fauci is the equivalent of blind faith in the President — making them no different than the “sheep” they accuse others of being.

Because political scandal typically involves peering behind the curtain of a public figure that has the appearance of goodness only to discover bad faith.

How morally lopsided it is, then, when we peer behind bad faith right in front of us to prove that it’s good.