Donald Trump is brash. He’s bold. He dares to say what no one else will say. And he says that’s the truth that no one else has the guts to say. And then he sneers at those who are not as bold and brave as he is. And then he’s reminded that he’s a bit impulsive. He should have checked. Others will check. Unless and until he shuts down the free press, others will check out what’s really going on, thinking that’s their jobs, as it probably is. And this time the sardonically liberal Daily Beast did the checking:
A Houston doctor who praises hydroxychloroquine and says that face masks aren’t necessary to stop transmission of the highly contagious coronavirus has become a star on the right-wing internet, garnering tens of millions of views on Facebook on Monday alone. Donald Trump Jr. declared the video of Stella Immanuel a “must watch,” while Donald Trump himself retweeted the video.
Before Trump and his supporters embrace Immanuel’s medical expertise, though, they should consider other medical claims Immanuel has made—including those about alien DNA and the physical effects of having sex with witches and demons in your dreams.
Immanuel, a pediatrician and a religious minister, has a history of making bizarre claims about medical topics and other issues. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.
She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. And, despite appearing in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress on Monday, she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by “reptilians” and other aliens.
Oops. Cody Fenwick watched what happened next:
President Donald Trump abruptly ended his press briefing on Tuesday when CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins pressed him on his promotion of a quack doctor’s dangerous claims about COVID-19…
“The woman that you said is a ‘great doctor’ in that video that you retweeted last night said that masks don’t work and there’s a cure for COVID-19, both of which experts say is not true,” Collins told Trump during the evening briefing. “She’s also made videos saying that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens and that they’re trying to make a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious. So, what’s the logic in retweeting that?”
Trump shook his head and looked down.
“I can tell you this,” he said. “She was on air with many other doctors. They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine. And I thought she was very impressive in the sense that where she came – I don’t know what country she comes from – but she’s said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients. And I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.”
Trump tried to move on to another reporter, but Collins had a follow-up. As she tried to cut in, he clearly grew annoyed. He decided to give up on getting a question from another reporter, said only, “Thank you very much, everybody,” and quickly left the room.
He wasn’t prepared to discuss alien DNA (from outer space, not Mexico) or dream-sex with demons and witches or the reptile-creatures, those giant lizards, actually running our government. He had been impulsive. That came back and bit him in the ass. It was time for him to cut his losses. He simply walked out.
This sort of thing will not help him in November, except with the crowd that worries about those giant lizards running everything. He has their vote, but it’s more than them. In fact, as NBC News reports, Doctor Stella Immanuel is just one of many:
It was the latest video to go viral from apparent experts, quietly backed by dark money political organizations, evangelizing treatments for or opinions about the coronavirus that most doctors, public health officials and epidemiologists have roundly decried as dangerous misinformation.
Donald Trump Jr. was left unable to tweet for 12 hours on Tuesday morning after Twitter took punitive action on his account for tweeting the video. “This is a must watch!!! So different from the narrative everyone is running with!” Trump Jr. tweeted at 8:13 p.m. on Tuesday. Twitter’s press account tweeted that Trump Jr.’s tweet broke the social media company’s policy of “sharing misinformation on COVID-19.”
“We’ve removed this video for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement to NBC News. Stone also noted that Facebook is directing users who have interacted with content that has been removed to a World Health Organization website debunking COVID-19-related misinformation.
YouTube and Twitter followed Facebook, removing the video as it racked up thousands of views.
President Donald Trump also retweeted a clip of the video late Tuesday. The tweet was later deleted, and no action was taken against his account.
His son got hammered. He or someone on his staff deleted his tweet with the clip of Stella Immanuel. He got off. But those folks had put on quite a show:
Dressed in white coats with “America’s Frontline Doctors” stitched on the chest, the stars of the Facebook video claimed that business and school closings, social distancing and even masks were not needed, because hydroxychloroquine, a drug commonly used to treat malaria, could both prevent and cure the coronavirus. In fact, the FDA has warned against using hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, citing serious health effects and the conclusions from randomized clinical trials that have shown little benefit from the treatment.
“We don’t need masks. There is a cure!” said Dr. Stella Immanuel, a licensed pediatrician from Houston. In one of the event’s most fiery speeches, Immanuel, who claims to have effectively treated 350 COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine out of her medical clinic, but declined to provide data, referred to doctors who declined to treat patients with hydroxychloroquine as “good Nazis” and “fake doctors,” and called published research “fake science.”
She had Trump hooked with those last two words, and this came from a world that Trump knows well:
That Monday’s so-called news conference had more speakers than attendees was of little matter. Livestreamed by the far-right website Breitbart News, the video spread quickly, initially through conservative, anti-vaccination and government conspiracy groups. Within hours, it had reached over 20 million Facebook users.
The event was hosted and funded by the Tea Party Patriots, a right-wing political nonprofit group led by Jenny Beth Martin, the group’s co-founder, who spoke at the news conference.
The group, which collects funds through two nonprofit groups and a political action committee, has raised over $24 million since 2014 to support Republican causes and candidates.
Tea Party Patriots have been critical of measures enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Before America’s Frontline Doctors, the group launched the Second Opinion Project, a website that hosted videos of doctors attacking state and local coronavirus efforts.
Social media does what it can about these people:
In April, viral videos were eventually removed from Facebook and YouTube of two doctors in Bakersfield, California, downplaying the risk of the coronavirus and spreading a conspiracy theory about doctors purposefully misattributing unrelated deaths to the coronavirus. Dan Erickson, one of the two doctors in the clip, spoke at Monday’s news conference.
In May, a “Plandemic” video from a discredited scientist promoting conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, drew 8 million views before it was removed.
They can hardly keep up, and then there’s the Southern California component to this:
America’s Frontline Doctors is led by a group of 10 doctors of varying specialties, according to its website, which was registered two weeks ago. The group’s leader, Dr. Simone Gold, is a “concierge immediate-needs physician,” who offers private medical consultations, according to an archive of her recently deleted professional website.
Along with America’s Frontline Doctors, Gold has been the face of two other contrary medical websites registered since the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S., thegoldopinion.com, and adoctoraday.com, which publishes videos of doctors criticizing state government and public health responses to the disease. Gold was also the first of over 400 doctors to sign a letter to the president in May warning that state lockdown efforts would lead to “millions of casualties.”
In recent months, Gold has been a fixture on conservative media and at protests and rallies calling on reopening, and was on the panel that recommended that the Orange County Board of Education reopen schools without masks or distancing.
In April, she made several videos answering questions about COVID-19 while standing outside of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, wearing a white lab coat emblazoned with “Emergency Dept.” In a tweet, Cedars-Sinai said Gold was not on its staff or affiliated in any way with the hospital.
It was too late for that. Half the world now thinks this woman runs the ER at Cedars-Sinai, where the movie stars go to die, but there’s even more to this:
The Associated Press reported in May that CNP Action discussed recruiting doctors who were willing to push narratives about reopening the economy before safety benchmarks were met in a May 11 phone call.
CNP Action is part of an alliance of conservative think tanks called the Save Our Country Coalition, which previously hosted viral “Liberate” Facebook events in April, urging protesters to rally in states that had adopted social distancing restrictions.
These were the folks Trump cheered when they showed up in Madison armed and in full body armor demanding that the governor open up everything in Wisconsin right then and there, or else. Trump loved that. They were strong. He loved Stella Immanuel. She was strong. What’s not to love? But of course he’s kind of stuck:
President Donald Trump on Tuesday doubled down on his promotion of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 virus despite no evidence of the malaria drug’s efficacy in doing so.
“Many doctors think it is extremely successful, the hydroxychloroquine coupled with the zinc and perhaps the azithromycin,” Trump asserted at a White House briefing, though there is no evidence from at least five rigorous clinical trials that hydroxychloroquine has any impact in preventing the virus or treating mildly to severely ill cases.
“I happen to think it works in the early stages,” the president continued, repeating his past claim, “I think front-line medical people believe that, too – some. Many.”
Trump initially revived the issue in a flurry of social media posts late Monday, tweeting more than a dozen times in defense of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19.
This was more than Stella Immanuel. This was about hydroxychloroquine. And he should have checked this out:
Debate over the drug has resurfaced after a study run by the Henry Ford Medical Center suggested this month that the pill could help mildly ill patients recover faster. While Trump and trade adviser Peter Navarro touted the research, experts swiftly pointed out that patients were not randomized, that there was no placebo to compare with, and that many were on steroids – which are known to help with inflammation.
Still, Trump reminded reporters that he himself had taken a course of the drug prior to the FDA’s revoking its emergency-use authorization in light of data showing that it proved ineffective against the novel coronavirus and could even be unsafe. The president had markedly toned down his promotion of hydroxychloroquine for several months before resuming his advocacy this week, with coronavirus cases in the U.S. continuing to rise.
“I had no problem. I had absolutely no problem,” the president said on Tuesday… He added that he’d read up “a lot” on the drug.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson continued his contrarian stance on the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday night, defending a viral video of fringe doctors peddling COVID-19 falsehoods and claiming the group was only attacked because they criticized the “sainted” Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Hours after President Donald Trump doubled down on his support for the doctors – including eccentric pediatrician Dr. Stella Immanuel, who has previously said “demon sperm” causes gynecological ailments – Carlson kicked off his primetime program by railing against social media platforms for cracking down on the video’s disinformation.
That, you see, was a nasty conspiracy:
Claiming that there’s an “incentive” for Democrats to have coronavirus cause “more damage” as it hurts Trump politically, the Fox News star tied the removal of the video to the 2020 presidential election, claiming it was only taken down because Trump retweeted it and that “enraged Democrats.”
“Any scientific advancement that reduces the suffering of Americans in the election year is a threat to Joe Biden’s campaign so they decided to pull the video off the internet,” Carlson huffed.
After comparing social media companies to “Chinese authorities,” Carlson told his viewers that he works for “one of the very few mass media companies” not controlled by Google and Facebook and therefore would show them clips from the video.
Reiterating his belief that the video was only removed to help presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden win, Carlson aired comments from Immanuel excitedly declaring that the “cure for COVID” is hydroxychloroquine.
But he knows better:
“Dr. Immanuel’s claim is harder for us to endorse,” Carlson said.
She is a goofball, but Carlson says that’s beside the point:
After saying the “science is not settled” on the drug – Fox News medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel would tell Carlson later in the program that hydroxychloroquine has shown little benefit – the Fox host claimed Immanuel was facing backlash because she criticized Fauci, the face of the White House’s coronavirus task force.
“That clip enraged them. Because above all, you must never mock the sainted Anthony Fauci,” Carlson said after airing Immanuel’s anti-Fauci remarks. “Under no circumstances can you note that Dr. Fauci is, in fact, very often a hypocritical buffoon who refuses to admit what he clearly doesn’t know.”
“If you say that out loud they will cancel you,” he continued. “Fauci is too useful to the Biden campaign, so until November, Fauci’s word must be law even if it doesn’t make sense. Criticize Fauci and you will disappear from the internet.”
So, that hypocritical buffoon refuses to admit what he clearly doesn’t know. He refuses to cede that Trump knows more about infectious diseases and epidemiology than Fauci knows or will ever know.
That might have been a 2024 campaign speech, but Donald Trump is more concerned with this year. Michael Crowley saw this:
President Trump devolved into self-pity during a White House coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, lamenting that his approval ratings were lower than those of two top government medical experts.
Just over a week after he began a rebooted effort, driven by rising infection rates and sinking poll numbers, to talk about the virus in terms more in line with medical consensus, Mr. Trump was again making unfounded claims and defending discredited medical experts. It was the sort of eccentric, science-deficient performance that many of his aides believe unnerved the public during the spring and has come to gravely threaten his re-election prospects.
Noting that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Deborah L. Birx, his administration’s top coronavirus coordinator, have high approval ratings even as his own have sagged, Mr. Trump added, “And yet, they’re highly thought of – but nobody likes me.”
“It can only be my personality,” he concluded.
No, it’s a bit more than that:
While advisers have pressed Mr. Trump to more fully acknowledge the severity of the virus’s spread, he again offered a dissonantly upbeat assessment.
Mr. Trump declared “large portions of our country” to be “corona-free,” even though no region in the United States is actually free of the virus. While he noted concern over high case levels in California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, he said: “That’s starting to head down in the right direction. And I think you’ll see it rapidly head down very soon.”
However, a new federal report found that the number of states with outbreaks serious enough to place them in the “red zone” has grown to 21. It called for more restrictions on social activity. Those states include the ones named by Mr. Trump, along with Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. All had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people in the past week.
The findings in the new report were sent to state officials by the White House’s coronavirus task force…
It’s not his personality. He’s brash. He’s bold. He dares to say what no one else will say. But no one else says those things because they’re just not true, and that has consequences. People get it. What he says just doesn’t matter much, and now his party is in disarray:
President Trump brushed off the new $1 trillion Senate GOP coronavirus legislation as “sort of semi-irrelevant” Tuesday, dismissing its significance just a day after Senate Republican leaders overcame contentious internal divisions to roll it out.
At the Capitol, meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) disavowed a key Trump administration priority in the bill – funding for a new FBI headquarters – while the second-ranking GOP senator suggested that Congress might be unable to make a deal in time to avert the expiration of emergency unemployment benefits on Friday.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said Congress might have to pass a stand-alone extension of the unemployment benefits, a piecemeal approach that administration officials have floated but that Senate Republican leaders had avoided publicly embracing before now.
“If things are, the wheels have come off by then, then I think it would probably argue for doing something skinnier or smaller and then, you know, regrouping,” Thune told reporters.
They will have to regroup, and find a leader:
Democratic leaders accused McConnell of not wanting a deal at all, while one Republican senator called the new GOP bill “a mess.”
At the White House, Trump was asked if there were elements of the bill he opposed.
“Yeah, there are, actually. And we’ll be talking about it. There are also things that I very much support,” the president said.
He shrugged. He’ll get around to this soon, maybe. But until then:
McConnell told reporters that he did not support $1.8 billion for a new FBI building included in the bill at the behest of the Trump administration, calling it “non-germane” and declaring, “When we get to the end of the process, I would hope all of the non-covid-related measures are out.”
And McConnell acknowledged divisions among Senate Republicans over the legislation, which he unveiled Monday after days of delay.
“I think it’s a statement of the obvious, that I have members who are all over the lot on this,” McConnell told reporters. “There are some members who think we’ve already done enough, other members who think we need to do more. This is a complicated problem.”
And he knows he’s on his own, to fight these battles:
Democratic leaders balked Tuesday at a five-year liability shield included in the GOP plan, aimed at protecting health-care providers, schools, employers and others from lawsuits from people who become ill from the virus. McConnell has repeatedly described the liability provision as his one “red line” in the talks.
“That is no way to negotiate, particularly when his provision is so extreme. It’s a radical change of all liability law,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said after he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for their second day of talks.
This is a tough one. No one wants businesses to go under, sued for what they did their best to not have happen. No one wants businesses to stop requiring masks and distancing and fresh air and frequent cleaning and all the rest, because they know no one will be allowed to sue them no matter how many of their employees die. What does the president say? He’s said nothing yet. He may not say anything about this. He has other things on his mind. No one likes him.
He wonders why. Someone should tell him why. He’s not been paying attention.