SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose State's journalism school has bestowed its highest honor, not to a journalist, but to a health official -- Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dr. Fauci was recognized by President Mary Papazian and Journalism Chair Robert Rucker in a virtual ceremony Tuesday afternoon. The inscription on the William Randolph Hearst Award called him "the most trusted voice in America," a theme echoed by ABC7 News anchor Dan Ashley in an opening video.
"Over the years, we have come to rely on him for honest scientific information, always putting public health at the heart and center of every single thing he does," said Ashley.
The award historically goes to journalists, but during the coronavirus pandemic, Fauci demonstrated to many that a public health official and journalists have much in common.
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"These are two very different career paths that have some common features," noted Fauci. "In my business and yours, you are never quite done. There is always more to learn and more questions to ask."
The 79-year-old Fauci has served under six U.S. presidents, although his recommendations and candor about COVID-19 led to conflict with President Trump. Nevertheless, he did not compromise.
"Consistency in truth telling is critical because consistency maintains integrity," Fauci said.
San Jose State surprised him with another honor - an endowed scholarship bearing his name that will support future students specializing in health journalism.
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"Fauci has definitely been someone that has given us the truth, which is definitely important in today's age," said Courtney Vasquez, a San Jose State journalism senior.
However, Fauci acknowledged some don't accept his policies and advice, resulting in death threats aimed at him and members of his family. One of his three daughters lives in San Francisco. He said he ignores the threats.
"That's all noise. I focus on my goal," Fauci said. "I don't pay any attention to it."
Whether it's a welcome development or an ominous warning, whenever Fauci speaks, people are listening.
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