After initially downplaying the coronavirus pandemic, Fox News switched last month to touting the “Lazarus effect” of an unproven treatment for COVID-19. Media Matters has comprehensively documented Fox’s promotion of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, and our previous study showed Fox promoting it nearly 300 times in a two-week period.
However, promotion of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine on Fox has plummeted in recent days: In a five-day period from April 11 to April 15, the treatment was mentioned on the network 87 times. Over the next five days, April 16 to April 20, it was mentioned only 20 times -- a 77% decrease in coverage.
As Fox seemed to suddenly lose interest in hydroxychloroquine, so did President Donald Trump. According to Politico, Trump’s “public statements regarding hydroxychloroquine have diminished significantly over the past week for reasons that remain unclear. His most recent mention of the drug at the White House’s daily coronavirus news conferences” came last Monday, April 13. He also mentioned it a day later when meeting with a group of Americans who had recovered from COVID-19.
It is unknown exactly why Fox News and the president are not as forcefully promoting hydroxychloroquine as they once did. However, on April 21, The Associated Press reported on a large analysis of its use in U.S. veterans hospitals. Although “the nationwide study was not a rigorous experiment” and it “has not been reviewed by other scientists,” the researchers concluded that hydroxychloroquine treatment “showed no benefit” and “there were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care.” This analysis joins other studies in throwing doubt upon the widespread effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19, though other trials are still underway.
Fox personalities had spent weeks speaking of the drug as essentially a miracle cure:
Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for segments with any of the terms “hydroxychloroquine,” "malaria drug,” “antimalarial,” “azithromycin,” or any words with the roots “hydro” or “chloro” that clearly referenced hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine on Fox News from April 11 through April 20, 2020.