Ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug frequently promoted by Fox News propagandists like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham as a COVID-19 treatment, did not reduce hospitalizations from the virus in “the largest trial yet,” The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Last year, amid an urgent global campaign to get the public vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, right-wing and counter-establishment media figures instead lined up to tout the effectiveness of ivermectin. Little evidence supported their hype; one study many relied upon was retracted on suspicion that it was based on fabricated data. Additionally, the U.S. and foreign regulators and the drug’s own manufacturer all warned against taking the drug for COVID-19.
But commentators on Fox and elsewhere in the right-wing media ecosystem kept plugging the untested treatment, often presenting it as an explicit alternative to the safe, effective vaccines they were dissuading their audiences from taking.
“They tell us the vaccine is the only answer, but why aren't there more treatments?” Carlson asked on September 20. “It turns out there are a number of promising drugs and drug combinations emerging that could treat COVID, including ivermectin. The media hate this.”
Carlson and his colleagues were wrong. “Researchers testing repurposed drugs against Covid-19 found that ivermectin didn’t reduce hospital admissions, in the largest trial yet of the effect of the antiparasitic on the disease driving the pandemic,” the Journal reported. “There was no indication that ivermectin is clinically useful,” Edward Mills, one of the study’s lead researchers, told the paper.
Fox has not mentioned the study as of posting time Monday, according to a Media Matters review. The prominent prime-time and weekend hosts who pushed the drug all ignored the new evidence that it does not work as a COVID-19 treatment.
Fox has a unique moral responsibility to keep its viewers well-informed about the pandemic because its hosts have spent decades instructing them not to trust reporting from other news sources. But the network has failed, repeatedly and utterly, for two years.
By promoting the purported virtues of ivermectin while lying about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, the network’s personalities left the Fox audience exposed to con artists and scammers, to social media fever swamps — and to the deadly virus.
Many Fox personalities deceived their viewers about ivermectin by touting its benefits, suggesting that the truth about the drug was being concealed by the media and President Joe Biden’s administration, and speculating that its use could have saved tens or even hundreds of thousands of lives. Others spent their time developing anti-anti-ivermectin positions by criticizing media coverage of ivermectin rather than discussing its merits.
Fox prime-time host Laura Ingraham: Ivermectin provides “enormous benefit” against COVID-19, experts killed “hundreds of thousands” by saying otherwise. Ingraham and her guests have plugged ivermectin’s use against COVID-19 dozens of times. In a representative March 2021 segment, she said that “our FDA has in many ways failed us by not allowing for the use of ivermectin,” which she claimed has been “used around the world to reduce COVID hospitalizations and deaths.” In October 2021, she condemned Dr. Anthony Fauci for having “dismissed promising therapeutics like ivermectin, and hydroxychloroquine, despite pleas from the doctors who would use them successfully on thousands of patients” and asked, “So how many lives could have been saved?” She commented on the drug most recently on February 8, when she lashed out at experts who “dismiss and denigrate those who actually were right from the beginning” about the drug.
Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson: “It's not some crackpot fish-tank cleaner.” Carlson touted the drug in a June 2021 segment, saying that it “can and is, around the world, used to treat and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It's not some crackpot fish-tank cleaner. It's a real drug, and physicians prescribe it.” He then hosted the evolutionary biologist and podcaster Bret Weinstein, who argued that “the evidence is strong that ivermectin works both as a prophylactic and as a treatment if given early” and that while the drug has “actually ended waves of the pandemic” overseas, in the U.S., “the hegemony of the pharmaceutical industry and its capture of our public health agencies” has prevented its use. He most recently discussed ivermectin on February 2, in a segment criticizing CNN for describing it as “horse dewormer.”
Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity: Ivermectin is an “incredible therapeutic” that is “helping COVID-19 patients all across the country.” Hannity has claimed that “numerous studies” show ivermectin “can mitigate symptoms of COVID-19,” listed it as one of the “incredible therapeutics” against the virus, and said that it is “already helping COVID-19 patients all across the country.” He last discussed the drug on February 2, when he defended podcaster Joe Rogan for taking it after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Hannity also regularly touted ivermectin on his nationally syndicated radio show, which boasts an estimated audience of 15 million people.
Fox host Will Cain: Ivermectin is “somewhat of a miracle drug” that you can take if you don’t want to get vaccinated. Cain described ivermectin in June as “a therapeutic that many are saying is somewhat of a miracle drug.” In August, Cain touted the drug as one of “many, many promising treatments out there that can save lives” and told viewers that if “you don't even want to” get vaccinated, “there is promising therapeutics out there,” including ivermectin.
Fox host Brian Kilmeade: Biden doesn’t want to talk about “therapeutics” like ivermectin. Kilmeade promoted ivermectin in August as one of the therapeutics available while claiming the Biden administration doesn’t want to give people options to treat COVID-19: “Treating an illness doesn't get your mask on, doesn't get your kids out of school, and it doesn't get your business closed.”
Fox host Maria Bartiromo: Ivermectin may be a “very important treatment” for COVID-19. Bartiromo repeatedly described ivermectin as potentially a “very important treatment” for COVID-19. In June, she hosted Dr. Pierre Kory, who claimed that researchers have found ivermectin “leads to a massive reduction in the amount of patients who are dying” and that “they will never develop a drug that is more effective than ivermectin.”
Fox Nation host Lara Logan: Fauci knows ivermectin “would treat COVID” but is committing “genocide” with vaccines instead. Logan told Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk during a March 11 interview that Dr. Anthony Fauci “knew that ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, and all these things, you know, would treat COVID. And yet, they withheld these treatments.” She added that “the vaccines are killing people” which she described as “genocide by government.”
Fox host Greg Gutfeld: Doctors prescribing ivermectin to “reduce symptoms” of COVID-19. Gutfeld criticized YouTube in June for taking down a video of Bret Weinstein interviewing Dr. Pierre Kory about ivermectin, which he described as a “chat between a biologist and a clinician discussing his experience prescribing ivermectin for COVID, a practice done by other clinicians, given it has little to no side effects and by their understanding can reduce symptoms.”
Fox host Rachel Campos-Duffy: “White House is actively standing in the way of lifesaving therapeutics” like ivermectin. Campos-Duffy claimed that “the White House is actively standing in the way of lifesaving therapeutics” while hosting Fox News Primetime on January 10, then aired a clip of Dr. Pierre Kory claiming that ivermectin has been “shown to be the most effective” at treating COVID-19. Campos-Duffy added: “But none of this matters to Biden's White House. It goes against their narrative that only vaccines can keep you safe. They know what's best. So just shut up. Do what they tell you.”
Fox contributor Lisa Boothe: “Why is ivermectin maligned?” During an October 24 appearance on The Next Revolution, Boothe asked, “If it was about public health, why would anything other than the vaccine be maligned? Why is ivermectin maligned?” She added, “If it was about public health, we wanted all of the above approach, wouldn't it be anything that could potentially save lives? Why is it only the vaccine or else?” Host Steve Hilton replied, “Exactly.”