In the face of a pandemic that's led to thousands of deaths in the United States, President Donald Trump's daily press briefings regarding the virus have often resulted in fewer answers and greater uncertainty, with the President unable or unwilling to provide accurate information to the American people.
As a result, media outlets have found themselves scrambling to fact check the President and some of his associates in real time. One local NPR station stopped broadcasting the briefings all together, instead compiling the statements from medical experts on the White House virus task force, such as Nation Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The challenge of fact-checking the President's claims was laid bare on Sunday when CNN fact-checked Trump's claims that hydroxychloroquine—a drug commonly used to treat malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis—displayed a promising potential at curing the virus.
The drug has not undergone trials for treating the virus and medical experts—including Dr. Fauci—warn that the evidence touted by Trump is purely anecdotal. The drug comes with numerous side effects and interacts poorly with certain other medications, but Trump nevertheless asked "What do you have to lose?" by taking it.
CNN included an answer in its chyron.
The network cited input from the President of the American Medical Association, Dr. Patrice Harris.
Harris was asked what patients would have to lose by trying the drug. She answered:
"You could lose your life. It's unproven. And so certainly there are some limited studies, as Dr. Fauci said. But at this point, we just don't have the data to suggest that we should be using this medication for [the virus]."
CNN quoted Harris in its chyron, which read:
"TRUMP ON UNPROVEN DRUG: 'WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE?';
PRESIDENT OF AMA: 'YOU COULD LOSE YOUR LIFE'"
People commended CNN for including the opinion of an expert to counteract the President's potentially harmful recommendations.
It wasn't lost upon people that the President was essentially recommending that some Americans risk their lives to go against medical experts for a treatment that's based on hearsay.
At least one person has died from drinking an aquarium cleaner that contained chloroquine phosphate, which the person conflated with hyrdroxychloroquine, which they'd heard the President endorse.
Trump often places more confidence in his gut feelings than on the opinions of experts. You can learn all about that from people who were there with A Very Stable Genius, available here.