The road was tough because the scientific community was thinking that I sold out to the activists, and I had a lot of scientists who were saying, “What the hell happened to Fauci? He’s given into these crazy people who are stomping on the campus!” But that was a good start because that gave me creds with the activist community. And then, even though they did things that were still very iconoclastic, we developed a certain trust that has now stayed with us through the years. You know, amazing psychology of it; I mean it’s a lesson that in many respects is beautiful.
I remember when the NIH was invaded, as it were. You know that movie, that documentary, How to Survive a Plague. They show the smoke bombs going off at the NIH. Well, a month before, one of the organizers, Peter Staley, who has become quite a good friend — I mean a really good friend of mine right now — we used to bring him down to Washington, the activists, after we got rid of this confrontational thing. We used to sit down in my deputy’s Capitol Hill townhouse, and we used to sit down and have a meal and talk about, “How are we going to reconcile these things? How are we going to get more money?” How are we going to do this? How are we going to do that? And he said, “You know what we really need to do to gain attention? We’re going to just invade the NIH and throw off smoke bombs because we really want to create attention.”
And here I am, having a glass of pinot grigio with this guy, and he says, “You know I love you Tony, but we’re going to do it.” And they did it. And they did it at the same time that we were friends. So they knew that that kind of iconoclastic stuff would gain attention, and only when you would gain attention — this is the same guy that put the giant condom over Jesse Helms’s house. Do you remember that?