Trump and Fox News Are Suddenly Silent on Their “Miracle” Drug Hydroxychloroquine

Their reckless promotion flew in the face of expert warnings.

Yuri Gripas/ZUMA

The coronavirus is a rapidly developing news story, so some of the content in this article might be out of date. Check out our most recent coverage of the coronavirus crisis, and subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

After aggressively promoting an anti-malaria drug as a “miracle” in the fight against COVID-19—a push that flew in the face of repeated warnings from experts—President Donald Trump and Fox News personalities suddenly appear to be cooling on hydroxychloroquine just as a new study reports the drug could lead to a higher death rate.

“The fact of the matter is we don’t know,” Dr. Mehmet Oz told the hosts of Fox & Friends on Wednesday. “Thankfully these medications are prescriptions only… We are better off waiting for the randomized trials Dr. Fauci has been asking for.” 

The segment was a head-spinning reversal for Oz, who less than a week ago encouraged Americans to participate in an at-home hydroxychloroquine clinical trial. “They mail you the pills, you start the protocol, tell them what happened… Be part of the solution,” he told Fox News viewers in a segment on April 16, the latest in Oz’s ongoing promotion of hydroxychloroquine on the conservative news network.

The attempt to strike a more cautious approach this week comes on the heels of new studies that showed hydroxychloroquine yielded no benefit in helping patients infected with the virus; one study on US veterans reported more deaths among those treated with the drug than those who received normal care. 

When asked about the veterans’ study on Tuesday, Trump, perhaps the biggest hydroxychloroquine cheerleader of all, dodged.

“I don’t know of the report,” he said at his daily coronavirus briefing. “Obviously there have been some very good reports and perhaps this one’s not a good report. But we’ll be looking at it.”

The claim of ignorance appeared to track with what could be a retreat in Trump’s relentless hydroxychloroquine promotion. Politico reports that the president has significantly reduced his mentions of the drug in recent days, both in his coronavirus pressers and social media, as he shifts his focus to promoting open rebellion of Democratic governors over lockdown restrictions. Still, his repeated claims that hydroxychloroquine could be a “miracle” are unlikely to be forgotten.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.