Gov. Kristi Noem for President, 2024

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Gov. Kristi Noem

White House adviser Anthony Fauci and his media allies have joined forces in rebuking Kristi Noem after the lockdown-skeptic South Dakota governor had the temerity to criticize the Covid czar’s forecast she said hadn’t come true.

Noem on Saturday took on Fauci’s lockdown advice while making her case at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for conservative values and respecting individual liberties.

“He told me that on my worst day, I’d have 10,000 patients in the hospital,” Noem said. “On our worst day, we had a little over 600. Now, I don’t know if you agree with me, but Dr. Fauci is wrong a lot.”

Watch the entire speech below: 


The comments were met with loud cheers and thunderous applause at CPAC – and scathing mainstream media coverage over the weekend. Fauci was brought on CBS News’ Face the Nation program on Sunday to brush off Noem’s comments.

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s not really helpful,” Fauci said. “Sometimes you think things are going well, and just take a look at the numbers. They don’t lie.” He added that “now is not the time to declare victory,” although it’s unclear what he was referring to since Noem hadn’t celebrated beating Covid in her speech.

Brennan continued on that theme on Sunday, suggesting that Noem’s policies were contrary to CDC guidelines and were at least partly to blame for South Dakota having the eighth-highest rate of Covid-19 deaths per capita in the US. Noem replied that CDC recommendations have changed repeatedly, in some cases because of political pressure, and that South Dakota has “followed the science” in a way that also considers the economic and social wellbeing of citizens.

Noem added that South Dakota’s Covid-19 cases peaked earlier than those in other parts of the country, but now are much lower than in many states. She argued that the important question to explore is whether draconian mitigation measures would have helped. “What we’re seeing is that the mandates aren’t necessarily working.”

In fact, New Jersey and New York – Democrat-run states with some of the most stringent Covid-19 policies – have the highest death rates in the nation. New Jersey has a 23 percent higher death rate than South Dakota. New Jersey’s December jobless rate was 7.6 percent, compared with South Dakota’s three percent, and the state said the figure would have been far higher if it had counted residents who gave up looking for work.

Nevertheless, Brennan cut off Noem as she was explaining her lockdown-free approach by posing a catch question: “How do you justify the death of your constituents?”

Where Brennan and other media outlets left off in vilifying Noem, Fauci fans on social media picked up. Twitter users called the CPAC crowd “repulsive” and outrageous beyond belief for its applause of Noem, while others blasted the governor for insulting Fauci and killing people. Commenters also labeled Noem “un-American,” a “disgraceful liar” and “vile.”

“Imagine having the highest per-capita deaths of any state and thinking that makes you a great leader,” anti-Republican commentator W.L. Hearns said. Author Keith Devlin called Noem’s comments “science denialism” and said of CPAC: “GOP’s arrogance and the ignorance on full display at their cult fest.”

Ironically, it’s not Noem’s, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s state that long had the highest number of Covid-19 deaths – before recently being overtaken by California – and still has the second-highest rate of deaths per capita. And yet, Cuomo wrote a book on his successes in managing the pandemic crisis and won an Emmy Award for his Covid-19 briefings. He was celebrated for his leadership despite ordering nursing homes to accept people infected with Covid-19, before being accused this month of covering up the state’s high rate of nursing home deaths.

In her CPAC speech, Noem recalled an interview on ABC’s Sunday morning news show last November. Host George Stephanopoulos interviewed Cuomo just before Noem, asking what advice he might give the South Dakota governor on dealing with the pandemic. Reflecting on all that has come to light about Cuomo in recent months and about South Dakota’s comparatively stronger performance, she said, “So who really needed the advice?”

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