A white man with short, puffy black hair and a navy suit smiles on stage. Strapline text names him as Jesse Watters, and a screen behind him shows he’s talking at a Turning Point USA event.
Turning Point USA/YouTube

Dr Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, told CNN he wants Jesse Watters’ fired from Fox News, after he told conservatives to “ambush” the medical professional with a “kill-shot” argument.

Speaking at AmericaFest, run by the conservative student organisation Turning Point USA, Mr Watters laid out a scenario whereby a college attendee could confront Dr Fauci about a 2014 grant from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), where he is director.

BBC News’ Reality Check team confirmed in August that EcoHealth Alliance received the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding – which NIAID is part of - to look into “the risk of bat coronavirus emergence”. Some of that money went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the building at the centre of unproven theories that the Covid pandemic was caused by a lab leak.

But both NIH and EcoHealth Alliance have rejected claims they supported or funded Chinese research into “gain-of-function”, which “improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease”.

Referencing the grant, Mr Watters told the crowd: “Now you go in for the kill-shot. The kill-shot, with an ambush? Deadly, because he doesn’t see it coming.

“This is when you say, ‘Dr Fauci, you funded risky research at a sloppy Chinese lab. The same lab that sprung this pandemic on the world. You know why people don’t trust you, don’t you?’

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“Boom! He is dead! He is dead.

“I’ve authorised it, just make sure it’s legal,” Mr Watters went on to add.

The broadcaster also used the same “kill-shot” term when talking about white privilege and Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic senator who campaigned for her party’s backing as Trump’s opponent in 2020’s presidential election.

On CNN’s New Day on Tuesday, Dr Fauci described the remarks against him as “horrible” and “such a reflection of the craziness that goes on in society”.

“The only thing that I have ever done throughout these two years, is to encourage people to practise good public health practices - to get vaccinated, to be careful in public settings, to wear a mask, and for that, you have some guy out there saying that people should be giving me a kill shot, to ambush me?

“I mean, what kind of craziness is there in society these days?

“That’s awful that he said that, and he’s going to go, very likely, unaccountable. I mean, whatever network he’s on is not going to do anything for him.

“I mean, that’s crazy. The guy should be fired on the spot,” he said.

Twitter users also condemned the comments, with many tagging in the FBI to call on them to investigate:

Mr Watters is yet to comment publicly on the backlash.

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