The attorney general said the media is on a 'jihad' to discredit hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment simply because Trump said it may work.
Attorney General William Barr defended Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday and attacked the media's coverage of the pandemic — baselessly accusing the press of trying to discredit an experimental treatment for COVID-19 disease simply because Trump supports it.
"The politicization of decisions like hydroxychloroquine have been amazing to me," Barr said in an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham. "Before the president said anything about it, there was fair and balanced coverage of this very promising drug, and the fact that [it] had such a long track record that the risk were pretty well-known. As soon as he said something positive about it, the media has been on a jihad to discredit the drug. It's quite strange."
Trump has been pushing the use of hydroxychloroquine — an anti-malarial drug — for days as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
Despite Barr's claim, the media has in fact reported on comments from experts — including Trump's own coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci — who stress that the drug is unproven and should be approached with caution.
"The data are really, just, at best, suggestive," Fauci said in an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation" on April 5. "There have been cases that show there may be an effect and there are others to show there's no effect. So, I think in terms of science, I don't think we could definitively say it works."
Patrice Harris, the president of the American Medical Association, also cautioned people against taking the drug.
"You could lose your life," Harris said in an interview on CNN of the risks of taking hydroxychloroquine. "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 COVID-19."
Trump began pushing the drug as a possible treatment for COVID-19 based on reports from two small and flawed studies out of China and France.
The French study included just 36 patients, 16 of whom received hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, according to Vox. Vox also reported that the study was neither blind nor randomized — which are hallmark traits of a sound study.
Aside from attacking the media, Barr on Wednesday also questioned the social distancing measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, saying they were "draconian" and calling for them to be eased in May.
He was laudatory of Trump, who he said is acting "really statesmanlike," adding that Trump is "trying to bring people together."
"It’s such a positive event and you ask it in such a negative way," he said Monday, responding to a question from a reporter about issues with the coronavirus relief fund for small businesses that was included in the most recent emergency stimulus bill.
In that same hearing, Trump called another journalist "a third-rate reporter" for asking a basic question about medical supply shortages.
"You'll never make it," Trump said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.