The rise of White House COVID-19 adviser Dr. Scott Atlas, a lockdown skeptic who increasingly has Trump’s ear and is worrying experts like Fauci



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Dr. Scott Atlas (right) speaks at White House press conference on September 23, 2020, as President Donald Trump (left) looks on. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty


© MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty
Dr. Scott Atlas (right) speaks at White House press conference on September 23, 2020, as President Donald Trump (left) looks on. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

  • President Donald Trump brought Dr. Scott Atlas, a vocal anti-lockdown critic, onto his coronavirus task force in August.
  • Atlas is a healthcare-policy expert who works at the Hoover Institute, a conservative think tank at Stanford University. He is not an infectious-disease expert.
  • Yet the White House has increasingly brought him out to speak at recent coronavirus briefings instead of experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci or Dr. Deborah Birx.
  • He appears to be worrying top US health experts: CDC Director Robert Redfield was overheard saying “everything” Atlas says “is false,” and Fauci called him an “outlier” in his coronavirus views.
  • In response to Redfield and Fauci’s comments, Atlas told Business Insider: “Career government public health officials do not have a monopoly on knowledge.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dr. Scott Atlas has only been on the White House’s coronavirus task force for a month, but appears to already have President Donald Trump’s ear and is worrying top experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Atlas was brought onto Trump’s coronavirus task force in August, after appearing on Fox News for several months, where he often echoed the president’s views — including an opposition to lockdowns.

He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford University.

Unlike the other experts on the task force, Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, Atlas does not have a specialty in either infectious diseases or public health. Instead, he focuses on healthcare policy and has a background in neuroradiology, which is the reading of X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.

Nonetheless, Atlas has become a favorite of the president, appearing often at the White House’s coronavirus briefings. Birx and Fauci have not spoken in those briefings as much in recent weeks.

Fauci, Redfield wave red flags

On Friday, an NBC News reporter overheard CDC Director Robert Redfield referring to Atlas in a phone conversation, saying “everything he says is false.” Redfield confirmed to the reporter after the flight that he was indeed talking about Atlas.



Robert R. Redfield wearing a suit and tie: CDC Director Robert Redfield seen testifying before the Senate on September 23, 2020. Redfield was overheard on a flight recently saying that "everything" Atlas says "is false." ALEX EDELMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty


© ALEX EDELMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty
CDC Director Robert Redfield seen testifying before the Senate on September 23, 2020. Redfield was overheard on a flight recently saying that “everything” Atlas says “is false.” ALEX EDELMAN/POOL/AFP via Getty

And in a Monday interview with CNN, Fauci described Atlas as an “outlier” when it came to his opinions on the virus.

“You know my differences with Dr. Atlas, I’m always willing to sit down and talk with him and see if we could resolve those differences,” Fauci said.

In response to Redfield and Fauci’s remarks, Atlas told Business Insider: “All of my policy recommendations to the President are directly backed by the current science, and they are in line with what many of the world’s top medical scientists advise, including Martin Kulldorff and Katherine Yih of Harvard Medical School;

Read more