The Washington Post’s Phil Bump couldn’t help but notice that President Donald Trump’s marriage to Fox News only extends so far as the network’s agreement to push whatever he says as gospel.
That conflict came into play Monday, when the president continued to advocate using hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID-19. It not only doesn’t prevent COVID-19, it also doesn’t cure it. Still, Trump said that he decided to demand the drug from his White House physician.
The Center for Disease Control has removed hydroxychloroquine from their site as a treatment for the coronavirus and the Food and Drug Administration goes even further.
“Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19,” the site says. It goes on to warn that the drugs “can cause abnormal heart rhythms such as QT interval prolongation and a dangerously rapid heart rate called ventricular tachycardia.”
Studies of the drug in New York hospitals and by the Department of Veterans Affairs suggest that using the drug can increase the chances of death in patients. They have urged only using the drug when being on a heart monitor in a hospital.
After Trump proclaimed his usage, Fox News host Neil Cavuto rushed to warn people not to take a drug simply because the president is taking it.
“If you are in a risky population here, and you are taking this as a preventative treatment to ward off the virus or, in a worst-case scenario, you are dealing with the virus and you are in this vulnerable population, it will kill you,” said Cavuto after Trump’s announcement. “I cannot stress enough. This will kill you.”
“This is a leap that should not be taken casually by those watching at home,” he added.
Vanity Fair’s Gabe Sherman revealed at the end of March that Fox News was already lawyering up after it became clear that their downplaying of the coronavirus could actually get them sued.
False claims made about the virus by Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, “tried to do their original playbook — which was dismiss it as a hoax, say that this is another partisan attempt by Democrats to hurt Donald Trump — and this was the case where they could not prevent reality,” Sherman said.
The quick fact-check led Trump to another outburst on Twitter to rage his favorite new drug won’t kill anyone.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 19, 2020
“It was an unusual, though not unprecedented, attack by Trump against an employee of the network he watches and promotes with abandon,” said Bump. “In the past, Trump has objected to reporting or information from other Fox News personalities, including former Fox anchor Megyn Kelly and the network’s well-regarded polling team. He has used his bully pulpit to try to cow the network explicitly, encouraging his supporters to look to alternatives and even boosting the rival network One America News, an ostentatiously pro-Trump outlet.”
His attack on Cavuto was simply more of the same.
On Monday night, Ingraham couldn’t figure out why the media was “freaking out” about Trump’s claim. Tuesday morning “Fox & Friends” promoted the president’s drug use, welcoming on the White House press secretary to sing the president’s praises.
Bump noted that over the years, Trump has poked Fox News, reminding them of the far-right fans who got them to the top of the ratings, and the candidates, namely him, that have been quick to call in and help give them a ratings boost. Ironically, a poll from this month showed that Fox News viewers were more likely to believe Trump than they were to believe the network they’re so addicted to.
“In the case of Cavuto vs. Trump, May 2020 iteration, that conflict is unusually important. Fox News viewers are being asked to believe either that Trump’s use of hydroxychloroquine is at worst innocuous and, at best, potentially lifesaving — or that, as Cavuto put it, there’s a significant risk of death associated with its use and no non-anecdotal evidence of its efficacy,” wrote Bump. “In this case, there’s an outside arbiter: the FDA. Its opinion on the matter is at the top of this article. On May 4, Ingraham offered her thoughts on the FDA’s decision.”
“The FDA, I hate to say it, they got this one wrong big time,” Ingraham, who attended medical school, claimed.