The New York State Office of the Attorney General has told Newsmax TV host Wayne Allyn Root “to immediately cease and desist from making misleading claims” after the right-wing host touted alkaline silver as an important product for people who are concerned about coronavirus.
Root is the host of The Wayne Allyn Root Show on Newsmax TV, a cable news network that “reaches over 70 million cable/satellite homes and subscribers.” The network has positioned itself as an aggressively pro-Trump voice and recently began airing a program featuring former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and former Republican National Committee deputy communications director Lyndsay Keith. Its CEO is Christopher Ruddy, a Trump friend and adviser.
As Media Matters first reported, Root used his March 11 program to downplay concerns about the coronavirus. He then addressed people who were concerned about the virus by directing them to watch an ad touting a suspect silver product. Root stated: “‘My Doctor Suggests’ message is next. You fear coronavirus, here’s a very important message now.” Newsmax then aired an ad for MyDoctorSuggests.com featuring Gordon Pedersen, who claims to have an “all-natural solution” that “destroys” things like “viruses.” (The advertisement also touted a promo code specific to Root.)
Pedersen is a quack doctor who has claimed that his alkaline structured silver can supposedly be used against 83 ailments. He has also claimed that his silver product will “protect” against the coronavirus and make it “leave your body. You just never get the sickness.”
Root also endorsed My Doctor Suggests and alkaline structured silver on Twitter by claiming that it “kills [the] virus” and stating that the product “just might save your life.” Those posts, which are still online, do not include any disclaimer that he has a financial relationship with the company.
Lisa Landau, the chief of the health care bureau in the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, sent a March 19 letter to Root via Newsmax Media explaining that the office “is extremely concerned by your statements during the March 11, 2020” edition of his show regarding coronavirus and My Doctor Suggests, writing, in part:
As the program closed, you stated, “My Doctor Suggests’ message is next. You fear coronavirus, here’s a very important message now.” Then, an advertisement by My Doctor Suggests, LLC for alkaline structured silver aired, and viewers were offered a discount when using the promotional code “root.”
The 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) poses serious consequences to public health, and consumers are concerned as to how they can best protect themselves and their families. Your representations may mislead consumers as to the effectiveness of the above-named product in protecting against the current outbreak. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and the World Health Organization (“WHO”) have stated that there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat this disease. Therefore, any misrepresentation that the above-named product is effective at combatting and/or treating COVID-19 violates New York law.
Landau added that Root is "hereby advised to immediately cease and desist from making misleading claims as they violate New York’s consumer protection statutes … which prohibit fraudulent and deceptive business practices and false advertising.”
Media Matters has contacted Newsmax for comment and will update this post if they respond.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal recently ended its relationship with Root as a columnist and cited his silver promotions as a factor. Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher, CEO, and editor Keith Moyer told Media Matters that “Mr. Root’s advertising, marketing and other media interests had begun to broadly diverge from the journalistic standards and intentions of the Review-Journal. That compelled us to end our relationship with him. We wish him well.”
The New York Attorney General’s office previously sent a letter to Alex Jones after he claimed that his toothpaste could kill coronavirus.
Newsmax also sent an email telling its older-leaning audience that “the worst thing” they could do regarding the coronavirus outbreak is to “get a vaccine when it becomes available” because vaccines are supposedly “a scam.” (Newsmax later distanced itself from that email.) It additionally sent marketing emails claiming that if you give it money for a book written nearly a decade ago, you can find “3 powerful secrets to never getting sick again,” including ways to ward off “coronavirus and cancer.”
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) recently called on Newsmax to stop pushing a false advertisement from gold company Monetary Gold which falsely claims that federal law allows banks to seize people’s accounts and “use those funds when necessary to keep itself, the bank, afloat.” (Townhall also sent that advertisement.)