Now that his divorce from Melinda French has been finalized (the marriage officially dissolved on Monday), Bill Gates is launching himself head-long into his campaign to rehabilitate his image as the avuncular tech-geek billionaire whose only goal is to make the world a healthier, and safer, place. Fortunately for Gates, his friends at CNN were more than happy to oblige with a softball interview that stands out for it's rank obsequiousness.
The interview, which was taped Wednesday night, begins with Anderson Cooper asking Gates: “On a personal level, how are you doing?”
Gates replied that his divorce was "a sad milestone" and that his ex-wife is a "great person and that partnership that we had coming to an end is a source of great personal sadness." Gates then noted that he and Melinda will attempt to continue working together at the Gates Foundation, as we have reported.
Next, Cooper tried to broach the subject of Jeffrey Epstein as delicately as possible, first bringing up the reporting about Melinda being driven to divorce Bill over his ties to Epstein. "I think it's no one's business what happens in a person's marriage," Cooper said, before asking Gates to "explain" his relationship with Epstein.
"Certainly," Gates replied. He then claimed that the extent of his relationship with Epstein amounted to "several dinners with him" premised on Epstein's promises to raise billions of dollars for "global health" through his "contacts". But once Gates realized the money wouldn't be forthcoming, the relationship ended.
"You know, I had several dinners with him, you know, hoping that what he said about getting billions of philanthropy for global health through contacts that he had might emerge. And when it looked like that wasn’t a real thing, that relationship ended. But it was a huge mistake to spend time with him, to give him the credibility of, you know, being — there were lots of others in that same situation, but I made a mistake."
Cooper then moved on to the subject of Gates' workplace behavior, including reports that he had an affair with a Microsoft employee. Gates has been accused of sexual harassment, yet Cooper simply asked if the billionaire had any "regrets" about his time at Microsoft.
"Well, certainly," said Gates. "I think everyone does. But, you know, I’m – it’s a time of reflection. You know, I – you know, at this point I need to go forward. You know, my work is very important to me, you know. Within the family we’ll heal as best as we can and learn from what’s happened."
And just in case there was any mistaking whose side Cooper is on here, he interjected, saying "just on a personal level, I’m sorry for what you and your family are going through."
The rest of the interview mostly focuses on burnishing Gates' reputation as 'the oracle of COVID', where he weighs in on some of his favorite topics like vaccine hesitancy, the threat posed by the delta variant, and the importance of wearing a mask.
"The vaccine blocks transmission but not nearly as well as it blocks disease and death, you can have vaccinated people be part of the transmission chain, and that underscores the importance of protecting the most vulnerable."
Regarding vaccination levels, "70% is clearly not enough," Gates added. Gates then reminded Cooper that deaths in the US are 95% comprised of non-vaccinated patients.
Then conversation then turned to combating the "health misinformation" that's prevalent in parts of the country. Gates replied that "I do think seeing the statistics on the deaths that are overwhelmingly unvaccinated would be a key thing." Gates said hesitancy has already "gone down" since before the vaccine rollout, when polls showed it might be as high as 60%. "This is a communications challenge unlike we've ever seen...and the stakes are life and death."
"Particularly among the elderly, it does surprise me that we're not at 95% of people over 60."
As far as vaccine mandates, Gates said in places like nursing homes, "you can make a compelling case" to mandate vaccines for staff and visitors. "Delta has changed the rules...and when people see deaths, they need to keep an open mind about what tactics" might be necessary.
Moving on to masks, "I've never understood being against masks the way some people are...I think wearing masks is one of the lowest cost highest benefit tools". "In some cases, it's the states that have the loosest mandates that will pay the highest price."
Toward the end of the interview, Cooper asks Gates whether it's important to identify the source of the outbreak. Gates replies that determining the source won't change how we respond to the pandemic. "From a moral standpoint, do you want to know how this started?"
"Yes, I would continue that investigation. The last paper I saw showed evidence against the lab leak but yes we should investigate these things."
Once it was over, Cooper's softball tone wasn't lost on viewers.
This is a wild interview. Cooper basically gives Gates a pass on his Epstein relationship and his workplace harassment — even apologizing that the details were reported — then helps him try to rebuild his “oracle of Covid” image. pic.twitter.com/H6QIzpB3sn— Paris Marx (@parismarx) August 5, 2021
The entire interview runs nearly a half hour in length. Readers can watch the whole thing below, starting with Part 1:
And Part 2:
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