As the coronavirus spread throughout the country in March, Fox News repeatedly promoted the antimalarial drug chloroquine and a derivative, hydroxychloroquine, as treatment and prophylaxis for COVID-19 -- even though neither drug is proved to be effective or approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for this novel coronavirus.
In a now-familiar sequence of events, President Donald Trump began promoting hydroxychloroquine seemingly after watching positive coverage about it on Fox. The network responded to Trump’s promotion with additional coverage of the drug, and host Laura Ingraham even touted her ability to influence Trump’s thinking on its use. Trump has repeatedly contradicted his own medical experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, in making unsupported claims about the drug’s effectiveness.
Hydroxychloroquine sulfate and some versions of chloroquine phosphate are approved by the FDA to treat malaria, but neither drug has been approved to treat COVID-19. The FDA did, however, issue an “emergency use authorization” on March 28 after Fox News promoted the drugs for weeks. The FDA’s authorization enables doctors to prescribe these drugs to coronavirus patients under limited circumstances, but former FDA leaders have criticized the decision, noting that it could actually impede clinical trials, contribute to drug shortages, and undermine the FDA’s scientific authority, while other experts have warned of the risks of off-label drug use.
Evidence supporting the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine is largely anecdotal and mixed, and advocates of the drugs mainly point to flawed studies from France and China to promote their use. (Fox has paid most attention to hydroxychloroquine, which is also commonly used to treat lupus and arthritis, as a potential coronavirus treatment and prophylactic, particularly when used in conjunction with the antibiotic azithromycin, known as Z-pak.) One or both of these drugs may eventually prove effective in treating the coronavirus, but currently there are no results of their effectiveness for COVID-19 from randomized controlled clinical trials, the gold standard for measuring the effectiveness of a treatment. (At publication time, the National Institutes of Health listed 399 clinical trials involving potential treatments for COVID-19, and less than a third of these trials involve hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine.)
Fox’s single-minded promotion of these drugs has far outstripped any evidence supporting their effectiveness for coronavirus treatments:
- During a two-week span between March 23 and April 6, Fox hosts and guests promoted hydroxychloroquine nearly 300 times.
- Of these nearly 300 mentions, the vast majority came from four Fox shows: The Ingraham Angle (84 promotional mentions), Fox & Friends (76, including Fox & Friends First and Fox & Friends Weekend), Hannity (53), and Tucker Carlson Tonight (22).
- Host Laura Ingraham, who was one of the first Fox personalities to introduce her audience to hydroxychloroquine, said that “there are stories of people saying that they've had this Lazarus effect by using this drug.” Weeks later, Ingraham reportedly brought two doctors who had appeared on her show to the White House to discuss the drug with Trump directly.
- Fox prime-time host and unofficial Trump adviser Sean Hannity has frequently told his audience that he would take these drugs if he contracted COVID-19.
- Hannity has also used his radio show to promote these drugs, and he even went so far as to encourage his audience to stock up on chloroquine if they have, or are “at risk” of contracting, COVID-19.
- Television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz has been one of the most persistent promoters of hydroxychloroquine on Fox, and Trump reportedly told his aides to seek Oz’s advice on treating coronavirus patients. According to Media Matters’ internal database, Oz has made at least 23 appearances on Fox News weekday programming between March 12 and April 7 to discuss hydroxychloroquine.
Fox’s and Trump’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine has dangerous consequences. After Trump’s statements, lupus and arthritis patients who use hydroxychloroquine for its FDA-approved purpose have faced drug shortages as doctors and patients started hoarding it, and some people have mistakenly taken harmful chemicals that contained the same active ingredients as the drugs to try to prevent the coronavirus. The CIA has warned that hydroxychloroquine could have dangerous side effects and has urged employees not to take the drug outside of medical studies. Experts have also expressed concern that focusing on one particular drug could blind researchers to other promising treatments.
Below is a comprehensive guide to all the ways Fox News recklessly promoted chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine during critical weeks of the crisis, from March 12 to April 7, 2020. Fox hosts, contributors, and guests relied on anecdotal evidence, dismissed possible side effects, rejected the need for long-term clinical trials, suggested to their audiences that they would personally use the drugs, and lashed out at anyone who raised concerns about Trump’s promotion of these unproven treatments.
Fox hosts and guests promoted vague or unsourced anecdotes
Fox News hosts have relied on anecdotal evidence to promote both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are not yet proven to be effective in treatment for COVID-19 patients. Fox medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel first mentioned hydroxychloroquine on the March 12 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight. Since then, Fox News hosts have repeated unsourced anecdotes; spread limited, and in some cases, controversial anecdotal studies from other countries; highlighted patients who attribute their recovery to using hydroxychloroquine; and invited doctors to share their anecdotes of patients recovering from COVID-19 after using these drugs.
- Fox News host Sean Hannity pushed anecdotal evidence on the March 19 edition of his show, claiming, “Places like Africa, where chloroquine has been frequently used to prevent and treat malaria -- very few cases of coronavirus.” He noted that “correlation does not always equal causation,” but also claimed early data is “beyond promising” and that “we may have had a breakthrough.”
- Later in the show on March 19, Hannity’s guest Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) claimed without evidence that potential drug therapies “take the virus from being lethal to nonlethal,” and “take it from a 10 to a 2.”
- Fox Nation host Lara Logan also joined Hannity on his March 19 show. During her appearance, she cited “medical sources” who she said have told her that they “favor [chloroquine] as a solution because it is cheaper and easier to produce.” She also claimed, “Doctors say it could be most effective in treating patients before they get so sick that they end up in the emergency room or on a ventilator.”
- On March 20, Hannity seemingly forgot the name of hydroxychloroquine, but said that he knows “a lot about it” and that when it is coupled with azithromycin, it is “showing incredible results.”
- Hannity repeatedly claimed on his radio show that unnamed doctors told him that chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine with Zithromax “absolutely works” and the results are “amazing.”
- Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt pushed the use of malaria drugs for the coronavirus on March 23, vaguely saying that people found a connection between these drugs and the lack of cases of COVID-19 in Africa. She also claimed that “they say” the earlier you take malaria drugs for coronavirus, “the better.”
- On March 27, Ingraham told White House coronavirus task force member Adm. Brett Giroir, “I'm talking to infectious disease doctors every day and from around the world, not just in the United States. This is their go-to combo in most patients. Period.”
- During the April 5 edition of Sunday Morning Futures, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon claimed that hydroxychloroquine “is clearly working for some doctor-patient relationships.”
Fox hosts touted international anecdotes, particularly a controversial study out of France
Fox News hosts have repeatedly promoted international anecdotes from China, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and other countries as potential COVID-19 treatments. In particular, they have touted French microbiologist Dr. Didier Raoult’s flawed studies of patients treated with hydroxychloroquine. Raoult’s studies have numerous and well-documented limitations, such as examining a small number of patients and using a flawed methodology. Scientific and medical communities have expressed concerns about the quality of his research, including the board of the journal that published the first study, saying it doesn’t meet their “expected standard,” and the journal’s co-owner Elsevier, which announced an additional independent peer review. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called it “anecdotal evidence.” Raoult has also come under scrutiny for questionable practices regarding his authorship of other medical studies.
One of the first guests on Fox to mention Raoult’s work was a lawyer named Gregory Rigano. Rigano is not a doctor, yet Hannity referred to him as one on his radio show. Fox News has also incorrectly identified Rigano as being affiliated with Stanford University’s medical school.
- On March 16, Rigano made his first appearance on Fox News to discuss coronavirus. Appearing on The Ingraham Angle, Rigano was identified as a co-author of a study on chloroquine, and he promoted Raoult’s work.
- On March 18, Rigano made his second appearance on Fox to discuss coronavirus, this time on Tucker Carlson Tonight, and again promoted Raoult’s work. Fox host Tucker Carlson incorrectly identified Rigano as an adviser to Stanford University’s medical school.
- Also on March 18, host Laura Ingraham called Raoult a “renowned French researcher” in a monologue and reiterated his descriptions of the results of his initial study as “promising” and described the drug as “rapid and effective” without noting the flaws of the study.
- On March 19, Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts reported that according to Raoult’s initial study, the drugs “have some ameliorating effect on coronavirus” and help people “get better within six days.”
- On March 19, Hannity told his radio audience that he was interested in Rigano’s findings after seeing him on The Ingraham Angle and incorrectly referred to him as a doctor.
- Later that night on his Fox prime-time show, Hannity praised Trump’s focus on chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine and incorrectly claimed that Rigano’s study was done in “consultation with Stanford University School of Medicine, UAB School of Medicine.”
- After Fauci called the results “anecdotal evidence,” Ingraham said on March 20 that “anecdotal doesn't really describe the findings of the world's top researchers.”
- On March 22 on Fox News Sunday, Fox medical contributor Dr. Marty Makary suggested that Trump should continue to promote these drugs given the results of Raoult’s initial study.
- Ingraham also promoted Raoult’s second study on March 27, once again calling him a “renowned epidemiologist” and calling the results he released that night “stunning.”
- Ingraham reiterated her praise for Raoult and his studies on April 3, calling him “one of the most renowned epidemiologists in all of Europe” and saying his study is “really impressive.”
In addition to Raoult’s studies, Fox hosts pushed anecdotes about other studies and researchers around the world studying hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.
- While discussing Raoult’s study on March 18, Ingraham touted results from China, claiming that the country chose chloroquine as a treatment after doing “several screening rounds of thousands of existing drugs” and “undergoing further trials in more than 10 hospitals.” Ingraham failed to note the shortcomings of the study, which was “small, ad hoc and anecdotal, not randomized and double blind (necessary to avoid biased results) — which means researchers have no reliable evidence that the treatment works.”
- The same day, Lou Dobbs, host of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, told viewers about researchers in Australia, who he says found “a combination of chloroquine, an antimalaria drug, and Kaletra, which treats HIV, have in combination helped some patients” with the virus.
- On March 19, Hannity said, “According to some doctors, U.K., China, South Korea, elsewhere, study done in consultation with Stanford University School of Medicine, UAB School of Medicine, this drug has been successful in mitigating the symptoms of the coronavirus.”
Fox invited doctors to give anecdotes about COVID-19 patients and promote controversial studies
Fox News and Fox Business have hosted doctors who tout anecdotal studies, particularly Dr. Didier Raoult’s anecdotal study out of France. Some of the doctors also gave their own anecdotes of patients that they treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, who has a controversial history of medical advice, has appeared on Fox News weekday programming at least 23 times between March 12 and April 7 to discuss the drugs, according to Media Matters’ internal database. During these appearances, Oz particularly touted Raoult’s flawed studies out of France and other anecdotal studies in China.
- Oz appeared on Fox & Friends on March 20, saying that Raoult’s study showed that hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin was “remarkably effective in reducing the viral load in people who had coronavirus.” Though Oz said that “you don’t want to make a huge decision based on just one paper,” he failed to mention the flaws of the study, particularly the small number of patients and lack of randomization.
- On March 20, Oz also appeared on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom and Outnumbered Overtime and on Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight. On America’s Newsroom, he called Raoult’s study the “most impressive bit of news on this entire pandemic.” On Lou Dobbs Tonight, Oz said that the news about the study “didn't seem to get the attention” that he thought it should. On Outnumbered Overtime, he went on to claim without any evidence that the drugs used in study are being “used quietly in some places.”
- On March 23, Oz appeared on Fox & Friends and told hosts that his “jaw dropped” and he was “flabbergasted” after reading the results of Raoult’s first study. He went on to preview the results of Raoult’s second study, which he said Raoult told him about during his interview with him.
- On March 23, Oz also promoted Raoult’s study on The Ingraham Angle. Oz acknowledged that a randomized trial needs to be done, but pushed for off-label use of hydroxychloroquine based on the results of the anecdotal French study and “some evidence of success” from China.
- Oz also appeared on America’s Newsroom on March 23, saying a “very well-respected French infectious disease specialist … felt that the world should go ahead and start treating with this double-drug combination.” Oz failed to tell viewers of Raoult’s spotty record and reiterated Raoult’s recommendation, saying, “In the meantime, I have got lots of hope that people are going to start using this combination. … Folks who need them the most should use these medications if their doctor thinks it is appropriate, because they are prescription medications.”
- On his radio show on March 24, Hannity praised Oz for his work “in trying to get answers to off-label compassionate use” of hydroxychloroquine. He also cited the French study that he said he and Oz "went over in great detail.”
- Hannity hosted Oz on March 25 to advocate for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus. Oz cited the French and Chinese studies to justify its use, saying that “these were anecdotal reports, but they're meaningful because they seem to add up to general idea” hydroxychloroquine can treat COVID-19.
- The same day, Oz promoted hydroxychloroquine on Fox & Friends and cited the French and Chinese studies, saying, “We are finding more and more data that’s supportive.”
- On March 26, Oz again cited the French and Chinese studies on Fox & Friends and noted that he “had a bunch of people on the show who have been trying the medications, the antimalarial medication, the antibiotics, some of these new antivirals." He continued, "Folks often claim they work but they can’t tell for sure. So, you know, you go to war with the army you have. That’s what we’re doing.”
- On the March 27 edition of Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, Oz again cited the use of the drug in China and his interview with Raoult on his show while discussing the effectiveness of the drug. Oz also appeared on Hannity later that day.
- Oz joined Fox & Friends on March 30 and promoted Raoult’s second study. Instead of enthusiastically praising the doctor as he had been doing before, Oz noted that he is a “very controversial physician and not everyone likes him or likes what he is doing.” Oz also said that Raoult’s study is the “best data we have,” even though it’s “not great data.” That night, Oz promoted the new study on Hannity and was all praise for Raoult once again, noting that the doctor had shared it with Oz before making it public.
- On March 31, Oz told Hannity that “there are centers all over the world, in France and in China, who are researching” hydroxychloroquine, adding, “You're going to see more publications, and we're going to find out whether it really works or not.” Oz also appeared on Hannity’s radio show earlier that day to say that he would “absolutely” take hydroxychloroquine himself.
- On April 1, Hannity hosted Oz on his Fox show to “walk us through” the results of the Chinese study. Fox & Friends also hosted Oz that day.
- On April 2, Oz appeared on Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Hannity’s radio show. On Fox & Friends, Oz discussed his contacts with Raoult and the researchers of the Chinese study that prompted Raoult’s study.
- Oz also appeared on both Fox & Friends and Hannity on April 3 and mentioned Raoult’s old study and new work. On Fox & Friends, Oz also mentioned the anecdotal study from China.
- On April 6, Oz argued on Fox & Friends that calling the studies anecdotal is “an error on the part of journalists.” Later that day, he appeared on America’s Newsroom, and then joined Hannity on his radio show to make the case that it is “unfair” to characterize the evidence supporting hydroxychloroquine as just anecdotal.
- On April 7, Oz promoted the work of Raoult on Hannity’s radio show, referring to him as “the most referenced physician in infectious disease in the world.”
- On Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox medical contributor Dr. Marc Siegel was one of the first guests to mention hydroxychloroquine (also known as Plaquenil) as a possible treatment for the coronavirus, noting on March 12 that it had been used to treat patients in South Korea.
- Siegel mentioned hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine on the March 14 edition of Justice with Judge Jeanine, stating that the use of the drug in other countries as a COVID-19 treatment appeared “promising.”
- Siegel appeared on Pirro’s show again the following week to discuss hydroxychloroquine, and the Fox host identified him as “among the first to tell us about a critical drug that's being looked at to fight the coronavirus.”
- On March 23, Siegel appeared on Fox & Friends to offer his support for Dr. Mehmet Oz’s promotion of the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. Siegel agreed with Oz, saying that it is “promising” and that “there’s really no reason not to try it if someone is in trouble.”
- Siegel came on Tucker Carlson Tonight again on March 23 to tout the drug, saying that “a lot of early evidence looks good.”
- On the March 24 edition of Fox & Friends, Siegel said that hydroxychloroquine “may very well be” a treatment for COVID-19. Co-host Brian Kilmeade replied, “It might not be the magic formula but at least it’s worth a try.”
- Siegel appeared on Carlson’s March 24 show to talk about media coverage of hydroxychloroquine. Carlson claimed that “the media are saying it's a conspiracy theory just because Trump mentioned it. That’s really, really sick.” Siegel responded, “Completely agree with you.”
- Siegel came on Carlson’s show again on March 27 to promote the prophylactic use of hydroxychloroquine. Siegel said, “What is lacking are substantial clinical trials, but a lot of people are using this and it's very promising. … It absolutely has antiviral properties against this virus.”
- Siegel appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on April 3 to discuss hydroxychloroquine and once again argued that “I can't prove to you that it works at this point, but it's extremely promising. And there's a lot of evidence that it does work.”
- On April 7, Siegel appeared again on Tucker Carlson Tonight to promote hydroxychloroquine, citing his own father’s experience using the drug to treat an unspecified illness.
Dr. Vladimir Zelenko treated hundreds of patients at his local clinic in a village in upstate New York with hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc sulfate. In a video on March 21 that was addressed to Trump, Zelenko claimed that he had seen “tremendous positive results,” with all of his patients surviving the virus with no hospitalizations and no need for ventilators. Disregarding that these results were only anecdotal, Fox hosts promoted Zelenko and his story, bringing it all the way to the White House.
- On March 23, Hannity interviewed Zelenko on his radio show. Before introducing him, Hannity read his audience a letter from Zelenko describing the coronavirus treatment plan he had used involving hydroxychloroquine. Hannity praised Zelenko and reiterated his misleading claim that he had a 100% success rate.
- In an interview with Vice President Mike Pence on March 23, Hannity read a letter from an unidentified “doctor in the New York area,” likely Zelenko, detailing a drug “regimen” involving hydroxychloroquine that supposedly proved effective in treating the coronavirus.
- On the March 23 edition of his TV program, Hannity also touted Zelenko’s anecdotes to Drs. Peter Hotez and Peter Costantino. During the segment, Costantino minimized the limitations of Zelenko’s study, saying that “it's not a controlled study, but it certainly looks like more than just coincidence.”
- On March 27, Rudy Giuliani reiterated Zelenko’s updated claims that he successfully treated nearly 700 patients, which are unproven, on The Ingraham Angle. Giuliani later tweeted about Zelenko’s results.
Dr. William Grace promoted hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin treatment for coronavirus patients on the March 19 edition of The Ingraham Angle, where he was introduced as an “oncologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.” According to freelance writer Nancy Levine, a spokesperson for the hospital’s parent organization Northwell Health said, “He is not employed by Lenox Hill Hospital or Northwell. He is a private physician who has admitting privileges. His views are his own and do not represent those of our organization.” Fox has since added an editorial note to an article about one of Grace’s appearances to correct his affiliation.
- On the March 19 edition of her show, Ingraham first interviewed Grace, who claimed that, thanks to hydroxychloroquine, Lenox Hill has “close to a hundred patients, and not had any deaths.”
- During a later segment on March 19, Ingraham “referred back to Grace’s claims about Lenox Hill, adding that he told her about one near-death individual at the hospital who was miraculously saved by the drug,” according to the Daily Beast.
- On the next day, March 20, Grace appeared on Ingraham’s show again. Grace claimed that hydroxychloroquine is “cutting down what we call the cytokine storm, the inflammatory storm that the virus causes in a percentage of people, and those are the people who go on to die.”
- Grace also appeared on The Ingraham Angle on April 2 and provided anecdotal evidence of hydroxychloroquine working at his hospital, which was not identified. He claimed, “We give [hydroxychloroquine] to everybody in our hospital who is basically hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms,” and he said that his colleagues “treating COVID-19 patients find that the drug is working, and it's working better when you give it earlier in the course of the disease.”
Stephen Smith and Ramin Oskoui
Dr. Stephen Smith and Dr. Ramin Oskoui comprise what Ingraham refers to as her “medicine cabinet,” and both doctors met Trump alongside Ingraham to discuss hydroxychloroquine. Smith has appeared on The Ingraham Angle at least five times since March 25, and Oskoui appeared at least four times since April 1, including twice together.
- On the April 1 edition of Ingraham’s show, Oskoui claimed that many physicians “in the trenches” have “acquired hydroxychloroquine” and are using it “on a daily basis” to prevent COVID-19. Smith called the treatment “a game-changer.” Smith also minimized the need for a clinical trial, saying, “We worry about selection bias in the situation, but I cannot think of a reason why, if all else is equal, why people that have received five days or more -- even four days or more of this hydroxychloroquine-azithro regiment wouldn't get intubated.”
- On April 7, Ingraham complained about the media pointing out that evidence for hydroxychloroquine is anecdotal in a segment with Smith and Oskoui, asking “How much anecdotal evidence will it take to convince the naysayers?”
- Other doctors that appeared on Fox shows include: Michael Orlov of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Fox News medical correspondent Nicole Saphier, Fox News contributor Janette Nesheiwat, former governor of Kansas and surgeon Jeff Coyler, Cano Health CEO Marlow Hernandez, Texas Children Hospital Center for Vaccine Development’s Peter Hotez, Lenox Hill’s Peter Costantino, Louisiana State University’s Meredith Clement, and dermatologist Nicholas Perricone.
Fox highlighted people who say they have recovered from COVID-19 after using hydroxychloroquine
Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett (D)
- On April 7, Tucker Carlson later hosted Whitsett and her physician, Dr. Mohammed Arsiwala, to talk about her experience taking hydroxychloroquine and praised Whitsett for her “political courage to come on the show.”
- During his show on April 6, Sean Hannity said that “hydroxychloroquine is rated the most effective therapy by doctors for coronavirus” and specifically mentioned Michigan state Rep. Karen Whitsett, saying that she is “crediting hydroxychloroquine and the president's bold efforts for saving her life.”
- The next day, during an interview with Hannity, President Donald Trump also told Whitsett’s story, claiming that “she thought she had no chance, and she got better.”
- After an interview with the Fox affiliate in Los Angeles, Rio Giardinieri joined The Ingraham Angle on March 23 to discuss what host Laura Ingraham called a“miracle turnaround.” During the appearance, Giardinieri revealed that “a friend of mine from a prayer line” told him about hydroxychloroquine after hearing about it on Ingraham’s show.
- The next day, on March 24, Giardinieri appeared on Fox & Friends. He reiterated his story and said, “I'm absolutely convinced this is what saved my life.” Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt went on to call hydroxychloroquine a “miracle drug.”
- On March 30, Ingraham invited “recovered coronavirus patient” Jim Santilli on her show as anecdotal proof that hydroxychloroquine was “tested” on him and “worked pretty well.” Ingraham closed the interview by thanking “God for medicine that has been around for 60, 70 years.”
- During the March 25 edition of her show, Ingraham hosted “coronavirus patient” Jay Forman, who credited hydroxychloroquine and Z-pak with saving his life. When Ingraham asked him how he feels about governors putting regulations on hydroxychloroquine use in place, Forman called himself “living proof” that the drug works.
Fox figures and guests claimed we should use these drugs before long-term clinical trials have been completed because “you march into war with the army you have”
- On the March 23 edition of The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham hosted a Louisiana doctor who was treating some coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine but also cautioned that doctors need more information and data on the drug. Ingraham closed the interview by arguing, “We want data. But right now, it’s what you have. And you’ve got to use -- it’s like wartime. You’ve got to use what you have.”
- On Sean Hannity’s radio show on March 24, he and Dr. Mehmet Oz agreed that there is not enough time to wait for long-term clinical trials that prove the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating coronavirus patients.
- On the March 24 edition of her Fox News show, Ingraham asked Dr. Nicholas Perricone if he was “surprised that there’s a lot of hesitancy” within the established medical community about prescribing the antimalarial drug because “this is wartime in this fight against this virus.”
- In a March 25 Fox & Friends appearance, Oz recounted recent conversations he had about the drug with Vice President Mike Pence and former Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer, a surgeon. Oz concluded, “When you go to war, you use the army you have got. That’s our approach.”
- Later that morning, Colyer appeared on America’s Newsroom and used the same talking point about hydroxychloroquine, saying, “This is frankly the only one that’s in our arsenal. As I like to say, or the old saying is, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had.”
- Also on March 25, Tucker Carlson interviewed a South Florida doctor who used similar wartime language to advocate for the use of the drug to treat COVID-19. Dr. Marlow Hernandez told Carlson, “Folks are suffering from this dangerous pandemic, and hydroxychloroquine is an important weapon in our arsenal.”
- In a March 26 Fox & Friends appearance, Oz again discussed several pilot studies for drugs including hydroxychloroquine and concluded, “You go to war with the army you have. That’s what we’re doing.”
- On the March 26 edition of The Ingraham Angle, Ingraham was joined by Colyer, and both used war metaphors to advocate for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus before clinical trials could be completed. Ingraham asked, “Doctor, isn’t this a wartime situation, though? … This is wartime. You use the advantages you have.” And Colyer agreed, “Yeah, exactly. You go to war with the team that you have, with the soldiers that you have.”
- In an April 1 appearance on Fox & Friends, Oz called for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reverse a state order limiting the use of hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus treatment due to shortages in the medication for patients who need it to treat other conditions. Oz used war rhetoric to make his case, saying that “when you go to war, you march with the army you have.”
- Appearing on Hannity’s radio show on April 2, Oz acknowledged that he would prefer to have stronger clinical data supporting the use of hydroxychloroquine, but he said that its use is justified given that “we're at war.” Later on Hannity’s TV show, Oz said, “We need a large trial. Everyone agrees with that. But you go to war with the army you got.”
- The next day, Oz appeared on Fox & Friends to once again suggest that more studies on hydroxychloroquine need to be done, but questioned, “since we’re marching into war, could we work with this army?”
- During an April 6 Fox & Friends appearance, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro expanded on the coronavirus task force’s considerations and disagreements on hydroxychloroquine. Navarro argued that, though clinical trials would be ideal, “we are in war. President Trump is a wartime president. In the fog of war, we might take more risk than we otherwise would.”
- In an April 6 interview with coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx on his Fox News show, Hannity seemed to quote Oz to argue that “we don’t have time” to wait for clinical trials and should use “the army that you have, not the army you wish you had.”
- Oz joined anchor Ed Henry on the April 6 edition of America’s Newsroom to again discuss the status of early trials for hydroxychloroquine and repeated his wartime talking point, saying, “You march into war with the army you have.”
Fox hosts and guests complained that Democrats and the media raised concerns about these drugs only because Trump promoted them
- On March 23, Greg Gutfeld, co-host of Fox News’ The Five, complained about a Bloomberg article noting the potential dangers of hydroxychloroquine, suggesting that the piece was published because “Trump had touted the drug on Twitter.”
- On March 25, prime-time host Tucker Carlson complained that the media is trying to discredit hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus treatment because Donald Trump promoted it. “Several days ago,” Carlson said, “the president expressed confidence in hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the epidemic. That was it for the media. If Trump is for it, they're against it, even if it might save American lives -- what reactive children they are.”
- Later that night on The Ingraham Angle, Fox News contributor Dan Bongino argued that the media was hoping hydroxychloroquine would fail as a coronavirus treatment in an effort to damage Trump. According to Bongino, the media are “actively hoping ... that hydroxychloroquine falls on its face and doesn't work, all to dunk on Trump in some pathetic display of media hubris. I've never seen something so stupid.”
- On Hannity’s radio show on March 30, Fox News medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier argued that members of the media claim hydroxychloroquine is controversial mainly because Donald Trump supports the drug. “Anything that he says is going to work,” Saphier said, “the majority of the media is going to say it's not going to work.”
- On April 2, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade referred to hydroxychloroquine and asked Oz “is this cure not moving forward because people don't like the president?”
- On April 3, Carlson claimed the media “opposed finding a cure for the coronavirus because they feared it might give the president some political advantage.”
- Appearing on The Ingraham Angle on April 3, Forbes Media Chairman Steve Forbes argued that criticism of hydroxychloroquine as a potential coronavirus treatment stems from the fact that Trump supports the drug. According to Forbes, “the real push on hydroxychloroquine is the fact that Donald Trump liked it. If Donald Trump said the sun came up in the morning, they'd say, ‘Oh, no, that's a Chinese light bulb in the sky.’ It just is perverse.”
- On April 6, co-host of The Five Jesse Watters argued that “the media seems to be almost rooting for [hydroxychloroquine] not to work,” adding, “They go crazy when the president says, 'Hey, this drug's showing signs of hope.'”
- On April 7, Carlson said that the media is downplaying a “a potentially life-saving medicine because a politician they don't like has endorsed it. It is probably the most shameful thing I ... have ever seen. It is making a lot of us ashamed to work in the same profession as those people. So reckless and wrong in the middle of a pandemic. It really is. For real.”
- On April 7, Hannity claimed the media has criticized Trump’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine simply because “their hatred of the president [is] seemingly more important than anything else in the world even at moments like this.”
Fox hosts and guests criticized governors who limited access to hydroxychloroquine in an effort to prevent hoarding
Trump’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine sparked fears of a drug shortage as hydroxychloroquine is regularly used to treat other medical conditions. In response, some state governors attempted to limit off-label use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent people from hoarding it. These governors subsequently came under fire from hosts like Sean Hannity who accused them of limiting access to “the potentially life-saving treatment.”
- On March 27, Fox host Laura Ingraham complained about governors limiting access to hydroxychloroquine in efforts to prevent hoarding in an interview with coronavirus task force member Adm. Brett Giroir.
- On March 31, Fox host Sean Hannity and Dr. Mehmet Oz agreed that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo should rescind an executive order he signed limiting access to hydroxychloroquine except in clinical trials.
- In a segment on April 3, Hannity continued to rail against Cuomo’s executive order, sarcastically complaining that the order is in conflict with Cuomo being “pro-choice.”
- Appearing on Fox Business’ Sunday Morning Futures on April 5, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani argued that Cuomo was making a “terrible, terrible mistake” restricting access to hydroxychloroquine.
Fox figures praised Trump for promoting chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, while congratulating themselves for bringing the drugs to Trump’s attention
Fox praised Trump’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine at a press briefing on March 19 and celebrated the Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to issue an emergency-use authorization for the drug. Trump had begun promoting the drugs only after Fox started covering it.
- In a March 18 interview on The Ingraham Angle, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised host Laura Ingraham for drawing attention to hydroxychloroquine, stating, “Laura, you've been great about calling attention to this drug.”
- On his radio show on March 19, Sean Hannity praised Trump for “slashing the red tape” and stated that “nothing is going to stand in the way” of finding treatments for coronavirus.
- On March 19, Ingraham boasted that her show’s promotion of the drugs “paid off” because it helped lead to Trump promoting hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine at his daily coronavirus briefing.
- On March 20, Ingraham applauded Trump’s “instincts” on hydroxychloroquine and claimed that Trump “sees things that sometimes the intellectuals and academics” don’t see.
- On his show on March 23, Fox Business host Lou Dobbs claimed, “The president was right and frankly Fauci was wrong” regarding the drugs.
- Ingraham touted her own show on March 26, saying that the show “has been days if not weeks ahead of some of the major news networks” in discussing “promising therapies like hydroxychloroquine.”
- On March 30, Fox medical contributor Marc Siegel praised Tucker Carlson for focusing on hydroxychloroquine on his show and attributed the FDA emergency-use authorization of the drug partly to Carlson’s coverage.
Sean Hannity repeatedly told his audience that he would take these drugs if he contracted coronavirus and has asked guests if they would do the same
- During the March 19 edition of his radio show, Fox host Sean Hannity declared that if he caught the coronavirus, “I’d be all over" chloroquine.
- In an interview on March 19 with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, Hannity asked Verma if she personally would take the drugs. Hannity said, “If I had the choice, I would use it for me.”
- During the March 20 edition of his radio show, Hannity encouraged his listeners to get chloroquine if they have symptoms of COVID-19, saying, “My advice is if you think you or somebody you know has it or might be at risk of it, you know, try and get chloroquine.”
- On his radio show on March 24, Hannity promoted hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a coronavirus treatment before clarifying that he’s “not a doctor” but is “interested” in anecdotal evidence that these drugs work.
- Later that night on his Fox News show, Hannity asked Surgeon General Jerome Adams if he would take hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin “if it was you or a family member” who contracted COVID-19. Hannity noted that he would take it.
- Hannity said he “loves the idea of off-label use” of hydroxychloroquine during the April 2 edition of his radio show. He went on to say that “based on all I know, Dr. Hannity for Dr. Hannity -- I'm my only patient -- I would absolutely use it if I got this.”
Fox hosts and guests dismissed or ignored the risks of taking an off-label drug
- On March 24, host Sean Hannity said that he knows good experiences with hydroxychloroquine are “somewhat anecdotal, but it’s so positive” and asked Dr. Mehmet Oz, “What are the risks? They seem minimal.”
- During an interview on the March 26 edition of Hannity, Trump inaccurately said that “there's no risk when [the drug] is already out there in a different form for a different purpose.”
- In an interview with Dr. Mehmet Oz on March 31, Hannity said he had “not seen anything at all negative” regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine in combination with azithromycin.
- Fox host Jeanine Pirro said on April 4 that she “know[s] people who are taking” hydroxychloroquine who “never had the COVID as far as they know.” Pirro then asked coronavirus task force member Adm. Brett Giroir, “Why not try something if it's not going to hurt you?”
- On the April 5 edition of Sunday Morning Futures, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani minimized the risks associated with taking hydroxychloroquine and said that “we don't have luxury right now of the perfect solution” and that by the time we finish studying it, “most of America could be gone.”
Fox personalities asked Trump, administration members, and coronavirus task force members about the drugs
- On March 17, host Laura Ingraham brought up the drugs in an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci. Fauci suggested that we should not rely on anecdotal evidence to establish the effectiveness of these drugs.
- During Fox’s town hall on March 24 on the coronavirus, Dr. Mehmet Oz asked Vice President Mike Pence about hydroxychloroquine, citing the French study.
- During an interview with Trump on March 26, Sean Hannity told the president that Oz has been interviewing “doctors that have been prescribing off-use hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax” and that there have been “miraculous turnarounds.”
- In an interview on Fox & Friends on March 30, Trump touted his own efforts in getting the FDA to enact an emergency-use authorization for hydroxychloroquine.
- In an interview on Fox & Friends on April 6, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro explained why he disagreed with Fauci’s suggestion that stronger clinical studies are needed to prove the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine. Navarro also suggested that we should “bet on President Trump’s intuition” on hydroxychloroquine.
- In another interview with Trump on April 7, Hannity reiterated anecdotal evidence about hydroxychloroquine from rheumatologist Dr. Daniel Wallace, and later in the interview Trump said that he has heard “good stories” about hydroxychloroquine and dismissed its risks, saying that he doesn’t hear “anything where it's causing death.”