As the pandemic that's caused a national health crisis continues to worsen, President Donald Trump has been unyielding as ever in his eagerness to spread misinformation. It's made for some tense moments between the President and reporters.
One of the President's most damaging lines of misinformation has been his endorsement of hydroxychloroquine, a drug typically used for malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Trump has touted the drug—which hasn't undergone trials to treat the virus—as a possible cure.
This has led some to consume consume chloroquine phosphate, an ingredient of aquarium cleaner, in hopes of warding off the virus. At least one person has died.
On a larger scale, the President's claims that hydroxychloroquine could be a cure has led to a surge in purchases of the drug, leading to a more limited supply for the scores of lupus and arthritis patients who actually need it.
Amidst all of this misinformation, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases director, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has been a consistent source of truth—even if that occasionally leaves him with the unenviable task of correcting his boss on national television.
Yesterday, Trump didn't give him the chance.
Trump asked "what do you have to lose?" when discussing hydroxychloroquine's potential before reporters asked for Fauci's opinion. Trump proceeded to stop Fauci—who's expressed far more skepticism than Trump regarding the drug—from answering the question.
Before Dr. Fauci—a 50 year medical professional—could answer, Trump stepped toward the podium and said to the reporter:
"You know how many times he's answered that question? Maybe 15 times. You don't have to answer that question, you've answered that question 15 times."
In the past, Fauci has warned that the praise of hydroxychloroquine's effectiveness against the virus is anecdotal, and that it would require clinical trials before it could be touted as a treatment.
People were deeply unsettled by Trump's censoring of Fauci.
This is a really chilling moment from a science standpoint, with Trump having just pushed an unproven #covid treatm… https://t.co/T5Z5e7eQZ5— Andrew Freedman (@Andrew Freedman) 1586133227.0
Why won't Trump allow the CDC medical expert to answer the question? Why is Trump hiding the truth from the America… https://t.co/YgFtjMuIbW— Make Despot-Don Gone (@Make Despot-Don Gone) 1586160375.0
Wow. Trump doesn't allow his top coronavirus expert to answer a question on whether #Hydroxychloroquine can be used… https://t.co/Ny7AlbQbEt— Gargi Rawat (@Gargi Rawat) 1586145897.0
Translation..”Don’t answer. I don’t want the people to know the truth. Let them believe what I’ve been saying,… https://t.co/7djzcVrx3c— Tim Ryan (@Tim Ryan) 1586182576.0
I am at a loss for words. https://t.co/lRV7kjGp7e— Andrew Farnham (@Andrew Farnham) 1586177631.0
The arrogance of Trump telling reporters to defer to his suppositions about medication, rather than the task force's most experienced expert was stunning.
A former reality TV show host prevents the nation's leading expert on infectious disease from answering a question… https://t.co/EEBJHY1uUg— Fitsum Tilahun MD (@Fitsum Tilahun MD) 1586136940.0
imagine asking your doctor a question about a strange medication -- and this asshole walks into the room and tells… https://t.co/2Dx26PwZmt— Scott Weinberg (@Scott Weinberg) 1586138863.0
At least 50 times readers have told me that reporters should direct questions only to the experts. That would neutr… https://t.co/aaE5M8CLjF— Jay Rosen (@Jay Rosen) 1586135869.0
It's unclear why Trump is so devoted to pushing hydroxychloroquine, but it's clear he's willing to forego the advice of experts in order to tout it.
For more info on the Trump administration from people who were there, check out A Very Stable Genius, available here.