Editorial: A dangerous propagandist

It’s easy to laugh off Doug LaMalfa as a simpleton and Trump sycophant, but the man endangers democracy

Congressman Doug LaMalfa

Butte County’s all-hat, no-cattle congressman, Doug LaMalfa, is licking the boots of a prominent member of his party by perpetuating a coronavirus conspiracy theory, an apparent attempt to make a name for himself no matter the cost to his constituents.

Indeed, the county is on the gradual comedown of a recent surge that killed an average of one resident per day in August and September. Yet rather than focusing on efforts that would protect locals, including encouraging them to get vaccinated, LaMalfa is taking on one of former president Donald Trump’s rivals, in this case the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

With Trump sidelined at Mar-a-Lago, LaMalfa has been echoing an inane talking point proffered by Sen. Rand Paul, who has repeatedly castigated Fauci during congressional hearings on Capitol Hill. Without a shred of evidence, Paul has insisted that the virus that causes COVID-19 came out of a lab in Wuhan, China.

Despite being a licensed eye doctor, Paul isn’t exactly a shining example of scientific acumen. To wit, the senator from Kentucky was suspended by YouTube in recent months for perpetuating false information related to COVID-19.

In his latest line of attack, the one LaMalfa has adopted, Paul lays out a specious claim that Fauci lied when he denied that the U.S. had intentionally funded risky research—so-called gain-of-function experiments—inside the Wuhan lab. LaMalfa has snatched that political football and run way out of bounds. On the House floor a few weeks ago, he not only called for Fauci to resign but also said he should be prosecuted for perjury.

The fact that the National Institutes of Health funded experiments in Wuhan with Chinese partners has been conflated in right-wing circles with speculation on the origin of COVID-19. But as Fauci notes, a connection between the viruses studied via NIH funding and the one fueling the pandemic is “molecularly impossible.”

Never mind that were there a link, it would have happened on Trump’s watch. An Obama-era policy halted gain-of-function research on severe acute respiratory viruses, or SARS, which is the class of virus that includes SARS-CoV-2, the one that can lead to COVID-19. That prohibition ended during the Trump administration. Unsurprisingly, LaMalfa failed to point that out while lambasting Fauci.

The North State is used to being embarrassed by LaMalfa and disgusted by his voting record. We’re talking about the guy who was one of 14 nay votes out of the more than 400 cast by members of Congress, Republican and Democrat alike, to make Juneteenth a national holiday. He’s same person who has raked in at least $1.5 million in farm subsidies while calling for cuts to food stamps.

It’s easy to scoff at the congressman, but we mustn’t forget that his words and actions are dangerous. LaMalfa echoed conspiracy theories about the results of the 2020 presidential election and ultimately voted against certifying those results. He participated in the political brinkmanship that led to the siege on the Capitol last January—the sort that still threatens the nation—while ignoring the very real issues here in his backyard.

And in terms of the pandemic, he’s gone full retrograde on virtually all attempts to mitigate the virus through vaccination policy. Meanwhile, nearly 1,500 of his constituents in District 1 have died of the virus.

Calling for Fauci to resign is absurd. If anyone needs to be booted from Washington, it’s LaMalfa.

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1 Comment

  1. We’re living in an era where people across this country, and across the globe, think that whatever they say is ok, creating their own reality. Just like LaMalfa is a disgrace, unfortunately Aaron Rodgers (Chico native) has joined the club. Here’s a man who has contributed greatly to Chico and Butte County following the Camp Fire, but he lied repeatedly about his COVID vaccination status by trying to play a word game (Aaron likes games) with the word “immunized” rather than the more correctly used term of vaccinated. And let’s be honest, the sports media must accept some of the responsibility for not challenging him months ago on such stupid language. It just demonstrates it doesn’t matter who you are, what your education is, people lie to protect themselves, and or to excuse themselves. Power and privilege are usually at the core of these lies. I mean to say what a disgrace, what a very sad comment on our society that people think they can say and do whatever they want and claim it as fact and reality. So depressing, so sad, as we watch our experimental democracy crumble to the ground. With people like LaMalfa and Rodgers lying to us every single day, is there any hope?

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