NIH official to retire after public health leaders criticized online

The National Institutes of Health said Sept. 21 that a public affairs officer identified as using an online pseudonym to attack Anthony Fauci, MD, and spread misinformation about COVID-19, would retire, according to The New York Times.

The official, William Crews, worked for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where Dr. Fauci serves as director.

Mr. Crews reportedly attacked his employer and Dr. Fauci in pseudonymous posts on Twitter and the right-wing website RedState.

The Daily Beast first reported on and identified Mr. Crews on Sept. 21.

Using Streiff as his pen name, Mr. Crews called the government's work against COVID-19 "massive fraud," demeaned NIAID's recommendations about COVID-19 and described Dr. Fauci as a "mask nazi," USA Today reported.

The Daily Beast reported that it confirmed that Mr. Crews authored the posts at RedState through public records, social media postings and internal records from the National Institutes of Health. According to the publication, most of the posts were published during the work week.

NAID learned of the issue related to Mr. Crews on Sept. 21, and he, subsequently, indicated his intention to retire, spokesperson Kathy Stover shared with Becker's Hospital Review via email. "We have nothing further to add as this is a personnel matter," she said.

When contacted by The New York Times, Ms. Stover declined to reveal whether an investigation was pending or whether NIAID believed that Mr. Crews had violated federal ethics regulations. 

Mr. Crews's retirement comes as another public affairs official, HHS communications official Michael Caputo, took a leave of absence beginning Sept. 16 after he blasted CDC scientists on social media. His leave of absence is slated to last 60 days.

 

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