Well, color this writer mildly surprised. Looks like CNN — or at least some on the beleaguered network — actually grew a backbone since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit. CNN host Michael Smerconish (who, in fairness, is about as reasonable of a voice on the leftist network as you will find) spoke to former NIH head and COVID-19 czar Dr. Anthony Fauci on his Saturday CNN show, “Smerconish.” It was, legitimately, probably the best six or so minutes of television that CNN has aired — perhaps, ever — because it refused to give an easy pass to Fauci. It’s a marked difference from when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit and CNN saw fit to shame anyone who wasn’t in lockstep with draconian government measures, like mask mandates. Speaking of, the best part of the entire Smerconish-Fauci interview was when the topic of masking came up. You can watch the relevant segment below: Citing a February New York Times opinion piece, Smerconish shared with Fauci some of the findings from a January Cochrane Library study. That study found (and Smerconish read this word for word): “The most rigorous and comprehensive analysis of scientific studies conducted on the efficacy of masks for reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses — including Covid-19 — was published late last month. Its conclusions, said Tom Jefferson, the Oxford epidemiologist who is its lead author, were unambiguous. “‘There is just no evidence that they’ — masks — ‘make any difference,’ Jefferson told journalist Maryanne Demasi. ‘Full stop.’ “But, wait, hold on. What about N-95 masks, as opposed to lower-quality surgical or cloth masks? “’Makes no difference — none of it,’ said Jefferson. “What about the studies that initially persuaded policymakers to impose mask mandates? “’They were convinced by nonrandomized studies, flawed observational studies.’” (As a quick aside, this writer, and most Americans, probably would’ve paid good money to be the ones to personally read those findings to Fauci’s face.) “How do we get beyond that finding of that particular review?” Smerconish asked Fauci. Here’s where Fauci, as he is wont to do, utterly refused to take any semblance of self-responsibility (an alarming trend from everyone involved with those horrific COVID-19 lockdowns) and disputed the above study by noting that … there were other studies. Yes, this supposed bastion of intelligence used the sort of argument you wouldn’t expect from a junior high debate student, let alone one of the leading “experts” in the country. “Yeah, but there are other studies, Michael,” Fauci responded. He then proceeded to offer up a Kamala-esque word salad about how some studies do show benefits at an individual level, but it may not reflect on a more macro scale. Which … duh? Of course, someone with certain medical issues may receive some partial benefit from masking up, but that hardly means it’s some sort of cure-all. Immediately after that, Smerconish very timidly called out Fauci and his cohorts for shutting the country down and highlighted the demonstrably horrible effects it had on children. Fauci, again, offered little more than word salad and deflection. Credit where credit’s due. Good for Smerconish and CNN for holding Fauci’s feet to the fire — as weakly as they did. The whole thing is worth a view (and boy, when’s the last time that’s been said about a CNN segment?) if only because it’s always fun to see Fauci squirm, especially as he tries to talk himself out of the disastrous choices he helped facilitate in 2020. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.