Stanford Atlas critics hit with lawyer's letter

By staff writers

September 18, 2020 -- A group of Stanford University scientists who authored an open letter criticizing Dr. Scott Atlas has been hit with a letter from his law firm charging them with defaming the radiologist, who in August was named to advise President Donald Trump on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legal missive accuses the signatories to the Stanford letter of "maliciously" defaming Atlas, and it demands that they issue a press release withdrawing it. The law firm also demands that the signatories "contact every media outlet worldwide that has reported" on the Stanford letter to "request an immediate correction of the record."

The letter was signed by Marc Kasowitz of the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres. Kasowitz previously was outside counsel to Trump during the investigation into Russian hacking of U.S. elections.

In the September 9 letter, the Stanford scientists accused Atlas of propagating "falsehoods and misrepresentations of science" with respect to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Atlas is a neuroradiologist who had an appointment at Stanford University Medical Center from 1998 to 2012, during which he served as chief of neuroradiology. He is now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Atlas has been connected to the "herd immunity" theory of managing the COVID-19 pandemic, which calls for removing social distancing restrictions on healthy individuals while protecting vulnerable populations until a vaccine is available and natural immunity builds. Atlas has denied that he espouses herd immunity.

In his letter, Kasowitz accuses the Stanford scientists of spreading "falsehoods" and "misrepresentations" about Atlas and gives the group until the close of business on September 18 to issue a press release. If not, "we will take all necessary and appropriate measures to enforce our client's rights, seek compensatory and punitive damages for the harm you have caused, and vindicate his reputation in court."

In a September 17 tweet, one of the signatories to the Stanford letter, Michael Fischbach, PhD, a microbiologist at Stanford, indicated that an apology might not be forthcoming from the group.

"I stand by everything we said," Fischbach tweeted. "More facts, more science. Less Kasowitz."

Copyright © 2020

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