Over the past week President Donald Trump and others have touted the promise of certain anti-malarial drugs to potentially help treat victims of the Chinese virus. Among those drugs is chloroquine.
This week an elderly couple consumed chloroquine phosphate (not the same thing) contained in a fish tank cleaning product. The husband died, the wife went to the ICU. So what did the media do? What do they always do? They blamed Trump.
Neither chloroquine nor chloroquine phosphate is something the president suggested people should start to consume on their own, and they aren’t even the same compound. What Trump said, which is true, is that there have been positive studies on chloroquine, and we need to ramp up more testing fast. But that didn’t stop headlines and tweets like this one from Buzzfeed.
A man died after taking chloroquine phosphate, the drug Trump's touted as a potential COVID-19 treatment, via a fish tank additive. His wife is in critical, but stable condition, Banner Health said, imploring people not to self medicatehttps://t.co/MgtUen5xoo
— Brianna Sacks (@bri_sacks) March 23, 2020
Or this from an outraged and unsettled NBC news correspondent.
Kinda buried the lede here, dontcha think?
(She didn't share this key detail until the ***eighth*** tweet in this viral thread)
Anyway, enjoy the RTs. https://t.co/qvrOhvCN48 pic.twitter.com/Ug67Ulcm1v
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) March 24, 2020
At least some outlets had the decency to correct their error.
We have deleted this tweet and corrected our story because it did not reflect the full nature of the self-medication done with an additive commonly used to clean fish tanks. https://t.co/0zucqRaIkI pic.twitter.com/3YY86rju2w
— Axios (@axios) March 24, 2020
This is just a rather extreme case of the news media rushing to confirm its priors before bothering to check any facts. From the moment Trump mentioned the drug, many on the left decried him for spreading false hope, or causing a rush on the drugs that kept it from people who need it. This tragic death from a misunderstanding was too much for the press to resist.
But Trump is not the only New York politician who has signaled hope regarding chloroquine. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, not exactly a pro-Trump guy, not only thinks it could work, but is trying to get the treatment used as fast as possible, beginning clinical trials on Tuesday. Does Cuomo also have blood on his hands?
The whole thing is absolutely absurd. Of course Trump didn’t tell people they should take a prescription drug without a doctors orders, where would they even get it? From their weed guy? And he certainly didn’t tell anyone to DIY the drug using a fish tank product.
What exactly is the argument here? That Trump and Cuomo should stay quiet about potential treatments out of fear that two people could misconstrue them and poison themselves? That’s not wise or reasonable. People are scared and want to know the government is taking action, here are two leaders describing the actions they are taking and what we need to know about it.
Has President Trump been a bit hyperbolic in his optimism? Yeah, sure, Donald Trump could be hyperbolic about a manila envelope. Maybe he is over selling the potential benefits of the drug, but if so, then Cuomo is too.
The structure of the White House daily briefings is that Trump gives a big picture message with a lot of hope, then the experts weigh in more directly with the challenges we still face. It’s not exactly good cop bad cop, but it has some of those elements. The president should be speaking in a hopeful voice that assures us government is taking every measure to fight the virus.
As with nearly everything, the left-wing media has made the Wuhan virus story solely about Trump and his response. How disappointed they must be that recent polling shows a majority of Americans now support his handling of the crisis. The real story is not the virus, but the third? Fourth? Fifth bite at the apple to take down Trump? The American people see through it.
This latest bit of fictional outrage porn is particularly vile, as Americans need to come together to fight this virus. But just like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats trying to use the outbreak for political gain, the media is using it to smear Trump. The good news is, so far they are failing badly.