Fox News host Sean Hannity is now pretending that he consistently warned his audience against the use of ivermectin, the antiparasitic drug that a constellation of right-wing personalities and grifters promoted as a COVID-19 treatment that a major study now shows is ineffective.
“People wrote this story, by the way, that I had been telling people [to use] ivermectin. Linda, is that not the one thing that I kept saying, there’s not a single study that I’ve seen that shows that it works?” he asked his producer on his nationally syndicated radio show on Friday. “One hundred percent,” she replied. He later suggested that his discussion of the drug was limited to hosting “guests on this program [who] mention it as part of their protocol; anecdotally they say it works.”
Hannity’s claim that he had waved his audience away from ivermectin is a bald-faced lie. In reality, last summer he sold his Fox and radio audiences out to the right-wing hucksters promoting the drug as a treatment for COVID-19. He repeatedly and recklessly touted the drug’s “incredible” promise as a COVID-19 therapeutic. While he claims now that he consistently said that not “a single study” shows that ivermectin works, at the time, he said that “numerous studies” proved that it did.
Ivermectin became the alternative of choice for anti-vaxxers amid last year’s rollout of the incredibly effective COVID-19 vaccines. The drug drew support from right-wing social media fever swamps as well as from Fox hosts and other right-wing and contrarian media personalities. This push came despite a dearth of evidence of the drug’s effectiveness against COVID-19 and as U.S. and international health agencies and the drug’s own manufacturer warned against this kind of off-label use. Last month, a major clinical trial found ivermectin is ineffective in preventing COVID-19 hospitalizations, but this drew no interest from the Fox programs that had urged its use.
Hannity was one of ivermectin’s most fervent proselytizers to the Fox audience. The drug was mentioned at least 25 times on Hannity from December 2020 through early April 2022, good for the fourth-most mentions of any Fox broadcast. Hannity repeatedly told his viewers that ivermectin was one of several “incredible therapeutics” with proven effectiveness against COVID-19.
“We now have numerous studies about therapeutics, Regeneron, ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, that show that taken early, it can mitigate symptoms of COVID-19,” Hannity said on his July 13 Fox show while criticizing federal guidelines that lifted mask requirements only for vaccinated students.
“We're also going to discuss something often overlooked and that is the incredible therapeutics that are now being used to treat not just breakthrough cases, but all cases,” he said on his August 2 broadcast. “That includes, yes, the [monoclonal] cocktail known as Regeneron, the Eli Lilly version of Regeneron. Even, yes, hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin. You get to decide.”
Hannity added on August 6 that when President Joe Biden took office, “Therapeutics like Regeneron and ivermectin as well as other proactive treatments and practices were already helping COVID-19 patients all across the country.”
His most recent reference to the drug on Fox came on February 2, 2022, when he defended podcaster Joe Rogan for taking it after being diagnosed with COVID-19. At that time, Hannity contradicted his prior comments by saying, “I've never seen a study on ivermectin.” He has not subsequently mentioned the study published the following month that showed the drug is ineffective.
Hannity also pointed to the purported effectiveness of ivermectin on his national-syndicated radio show, which has a reported audience of 16 million listeners.
“There are people that don’t know about therapeutics, that I can tell you,” he said on May 18. “There are Americans that don’t know about Regeneron, ivermectin, HCQ, the studies that weren't rescinded from the medical journals,” he added, blaming “the media.”
Talking on June 28 to a caller who said she didn’t want to take “this COVID, quote, vaccine shot,” Hannity said, “We do have now incredible therapeutics that are getting widespread use, including Regeneron and ivermectin.” He added: “Look into ivermectin would be my advice. Look into Regeneron would be my advice. But again do all that, with the consultation of your doctor.”
“We have therapeutics we’ve never had before,” he said on July 8. “Turns out, many studies show that, taken early, hydroxychloroquine is effective at mitigating some of the symptoms of COVID. Then you hear of medicines and therapeutics like ivermectin. Then of course there's Regeneron, the monoclonal antibodies.”
Hannity’s false claim that he always warned his audience about ivermectin isn’t the first time he responded to criticism by lying about his COVID-19 coverage. In the early days of the pandemic, he repeatedly downplayed the risk posed by the virus, even claiming that some were “scaring the living hell out of people” in order to “bludgeon Trump with this new hoax.” But after he and his network came under fire, Hannity pivoted, claiming that he had “always taken the coronavirus seriously” and even threatening to sue The New York Times for suggesting otherwise.
But Hannity learned no lessons from that debacle and with ivermectin, went right back to failing his audience again.