Fauci Keeps Composure in the Face of Protestors

The Live Talks LA dates that take place at the Robert Frost Auditorium are often events that sell out the space; popular authors discussing recent books are a great ticket. The Monday session on June 24, 2024 saw about 1,300 people come to hear Dr. Anthony Fauci being interviewed by Sean Penn. It also saw about a dozen people protesting outside the event as people lined up to enter. The anti-Fauci activists were a very small but vocal crowd, and while several people expressed dismay, it was also acknowledged that protesting is a right. 

“The noise was incredible,” said Geralin Clark, commenting on the protestors in front of the Frost. “I’ve been a protester, and I’ve done my share. I’ve never experienced anything like this. They were calling the people waiting in line [insulting names,] screaming through a bullhorn.” She offered it was hard to even tell what they were protesting.”It was just very loud anger.”  

Dr. Fauci is on tour promoting his new book “On Call,” after a career as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health from 1984 to 2022. He became both a guiding light and a lighting rod for the American public during the pandemic, and those with an unfounded fear of vaccines have continued to villainize his work.

Penn, who has his own notoriety as both an actor and an activist, was the interviewer asking Fauci about his new book. With a lifetime in public health, spanning from the AIDS epidemic to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fauci kept his cool even as several individuals in the audience, three women and two men, rose up from their seats every ten minutes to scream invective at the stage.

Dr. Fauci thoughtfully compared those screaming conspiracy theories with the gay rights activists who put themselves at risk to protest the federal government’s refusal to acknowledge the AIDS epidemic under the Reagan Administration, even as hospitals as were filling with patients. 

Larry Weiner was appalled to hear a woman seated next to him confess to being there as a plant. “She said ‘I don’t know how you can stomach this…’ I was shocked by the amount of anger and chaos.” Weiner heard the protestors say that Fauci had invented the [COVID -19] virus to make money for the drug companies. But he felt the protestors were in the wrong place at the wrong time. “There are places to express that, and this was not appropriate.” 

Those who purchased tickets for the event were also gifted with a copy of the book. As a doctor ‘on call’ Fauci has long experience with the powerful emotions surrounding health care, policy and illness. 

Clark said “Dr. Fauci was completely unruffled by all the screaming. I tried to emulate his amount of cool, but I found myself so annoyed at the screaming, it was a challenge not to scream back.” 

Judith Martin-Straw



The Actors' Gang