The spokeswoman, who confirmed the Daily Beast’s reporting that Crews is the pseudonymous writer, said the agency had learned of the matter Monday morning.
The Daily Beast reported that Crews, as “streiff,” has called Fauci a “mask nazi,” and implied that “government officials responsible for the pandemic response should be executed.” It’s unclear whether Crews had direct dealings on the job with Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease official and one of the leaders of the government’s response to the pandemic.
Other articles by “streiff” include one calling the Democratic governor of Nevada a “mask-fetishist” after President Trump announced he would hold an indoor rally in defiance of state covid-19 restrictions; another asking of Fauci “Is he a partisan hack or is he actually an idiot?"; and another accusing Fauci and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield of “trying to shut down the US economy for partisan political gain and institutional aggrandizement of power and resources.”
“Time and time again, Fauci has been proven wrong, such as his opposition to stopping travel from China … not to mention his institute funding research related to the coronavirus at the bio lab that is still at ground zero of the Wuhan virus’s origins and continuing that funding until early May,” wrote “streiff.”
“Streiff” has also been critical of masks, writing “there has never been a need” for them, contradicting the guidance given by Fauci and his agency.
Crews did not deal directly with journalists or the public in his job in the NIAID’s office of communications and government relations, where his work was limited to internal communications. The NIAID spokeswoman would not say when Crews will retire, calling it a personnel issue that she could not discuss.
Crews did not reply to phone calls and emails sent to his government accounts, and efforts to reach him by phone at home were unsuccessful. “Streiff” did not respond to email. RedState.com is part of Townhall Media, which did not respond to The Post’s inquiries. Neither did its parent company, conservative media conglomerate Salem Media Group.
According to his biography on RedState’s website, the user “streiff” has been a member of the publication’s community since its founding in 2004. In 2018, the website laid off a number of writers, including its editors Caleb Howe and Jay Caruso. At the time, the company insisted the move was financial, although the former writers and their allies pointed out that several of those laid off were the most vocal Trump critics writing for RedState.com.
Townhall Media includes conservative websites Twitchy, PJ Media, Bearing Arms and Hot Air. Together, the company says, the brands reach 24 million unique visitors per month.
This isn’t the first time a government health agency employee has been embroiled in a covid-19-related controversy. This month, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that its top spokesman, Michael Caputo, would be going on medical leave just days after he accused agency scientists of “sedition” and promoted other conspiracy theories on social media.
NIAID is one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health. Fauci, NIH Director Francis Collins and others have been at the forefront of the government response to the pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 people in the United States and almost 1 million across the globe.
Fauci serves on the White House coronavirus task force, though he has been largely sidelined in recent months as his critical assessment of efforts against covid-19 has conflicted with President Trump’s rosier description of progress against the disease.
The NIAID spokeswoman said the agency would probably investigate whether the posts were written during hours that Crews was on duty at NIH and whether he used NIH computers or other equipment in the process, which is prohibited.
NIH has a lengthy policy for its employees regarding “outside activities” and another for the use of social media. It adheres to federal ethics policies for executive branch agencies, which forbid “engaging in outside activities that conflict with employees’ official duties.” It was not immediately clear whether that would cover criticizing NIAID efforts on the RedState website.
NIH guidance on the use of private social media accounts by employees reminds them that “as a member of NIH Community, you have a special responsibility to uphold the public trust. We earn public trust from our expertise and our conscious fair treatment for all. We have responsibilities that are different from those who work in other places.”
Fauci was participating in an event and not available for comment, according to a person who answered his phone on Monday.