New York CNN Business  — 

A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

I understand why America so often feels like a 50-50 country, hopefully split right down the middle. In some ways, it is. But right now, on the key issue of trust, as the United States breaks the worst kinds of Covid-19 records, we are not split in half. It’s more like 2 against 1.

New polling from Quinnipiac University found that only 30% of America’s registered voters say they trust the information that President Trump is providing about the coronavirus. To repeat: Just 3 out of 10 voters trust what he says about the biggest crisis of his presidency.

Conversely, 67% of registered voters do not trust Trump’s Covid-19 claims. This is in line with numerous past polls that show only about 1 in 3 Americans viewing Trump as honest and trustworthy. He has the Fox News fan base with him, but that’s about it.

I think these #’s are fascinating because they indicate that a significant chunk of his supporters – folks who say they approve of his performance – do so even though they don’t trust him. But I think this next part of the Q poll is even more important: Nearly two-thirds of voters, 65%, “say they trust the information Dr. Anthony Fauci is providing about the coronavirus,” the university said. Only 26% said they DON’T trust Fauci. There’s clearly a gulf between the minority that trusts Trump and the majority that trusts Fauci.

>> Quinnipiac also found that 61% trust what the CDC says about the virus…

>> Polling analyst Tim Malloy said: “He may be out of the loop and in disfavor with the White House, but it’s clear from the numbers, voters would like Dr. Fauci back on call…”

Follow the numbers

Follow the polling numbers, and Wednesday night’s breaking news about Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale being demoted makes perfect sense.

The NYT’s Maggie Haberman broke this news, and the president confirmed it minutes later via a Facebook post. (He evidently headed over to FB while Twitter was crippled by a hacking attack.) Bill Stepien is the new campaign manager, and Parscale is now a senior advisor. Per CNN’s reporting, the shakeup came as a surprise to Parscale.

Both the Quinnipiac poll and a new NBC/WSJ poll showed Trump trailing Joe Biden by double digits. This has been happening for more than a month. Remember when the Trump campaign sent a ludicrous cease-and-desist letter to CNN for publishing a poll that showed Trump down by 12 points? Now poll after poll shows Trump down by 11, 12, 15 points. I don’t see the campaign threatening legal action anymore…

>> “Whispers: Parscale is not the reason the president’s poll numbers are in the sewer,” Jake Tapper tweeted


Fauci: “I can’t make a comment on that”

During an interview at a virtual summit hosted by The Atlantic, Dr. Fauci was asked, “There’s been some reporting that the Trump administration has tried to cut back on your TV interviews. Isn’t it important at this moment for the nation and the world to hear from you?” Fauci said, “I can’t make a comment on that, but I think you know what the answer to that is.” Yes, we all do… The answer is yes…

Norah O’Donnell interviews Fauci… in print

Here’s a great example of how Fauci is getting around the WH’s attempts to block him from TV interviewers. Norah O’Donnell of CBS, who says she has known the Fauci family for years, interviewed him… but not on camera… instead, it was for InStyle’s website.

InStyle published a digital cover of Dr. Fauci on Wednesday, see above, plus a Q&A by O’Donnell. Fauci said he doesn’t like to be pitted against Trump. Why? Because “it’s pretty tough walking a tightrope while trying to get your message out and people are trying to pit you against the president. It’s very stressful…”

Fauci’s next webcast

Fauci’s webcast strategy, which I wrote about last night, will continue on Thursday. Mark Zuckerberg said he will interview Fauci on Facebook Live Thursday at 5pm ET about “what we need to do next to stop the virus from spreading, and how close we are to a vaccine.”

>> Timing: The interview comes as Facebook launches a new “Facts About Covid-19” section to provide users authoritative information about the virus…

Fauci says Navarro op-ed was “major mistake” by White House

Oliver Darcy writes: Fauci described Peter Navarro’s op-ed about him as a “major mistake” by the White House that reflected “poorly on them.” He described it as “a bit bizarre” that the government is openly trying to discredit him, and said that Navarro is “in a world by himself.”

Trump chastised Navarro for the op-ed. And by the end of the day, it was clear that tensions between the WH and Fauci have eased, at least for a moment. This WaPo story is on Thursday’s front page: “White House backs away from Fauci attacks days after promoting them…”