Topic: Media Research Center
It's a sign of the Media Research Center's failing war on social media -- and its decision to be a pro-Trump mouthpiece regarding medications he has promoted -- that it's mad at Twitter for blocking false claims regarding coronavirus and trying to make the right-wing luminaries who made those false claims into victims.
Corinne Weaver complained in a March 30 post:
Twitter was reportedly very eager to take down any tweets about hydroxychloroquine and coronavirus. But now that the FDA has approved the drug for the treatment of coronavirus, will Twitter restore some of the tweets it censored?
A tweet from President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani and another tweet from Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk were removed from Twitter on March 27. Both tweets talked about hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria. The treatment was recommended by Trump in a press conference. He said, “I sure as hell think we ought to give it a try.”
The FDA announced on March 29, 2020, that hydroxychloroquine was acceptable to treat coronavirus. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the drug was acceptable to administer to adults and teenagers.
Guiliani’s tweet said, “Hydroxychloroquine has been shown to have a 100% effective rate treating COVID-19. Yet Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is threatening doctors who prescribe it. If Trump is for something- Democrats are against it. They're okay with people dying if it means opposing Trump.” His tweet was in response to Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who challenged Trump in a press conference on March 26, 2020.
Kirk tweeted a similar sentiment. He said, “Fact: Hydroxychloroquine has been shown to have a 100% effective rate treating COVID-19[.] Yet Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is threatening doctors who prescribe it[.] If Trump is for something -- Democrats are against it[.] They’re ok with people dying if it means opposing Trump[.] SICK!”
Weaver misled about the nature of the FDA's approval of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. It was approved under an Emergency Use Authorization, which is used during public health emergencies to approve treatments without the rigorous testing normally required in the regular FDA approval process. Indeed, in the Politico article to which Weaver linked to tout the approval, HHS chief Alex Azar describes the medication as only "potential therapeutics," and it's noted that there is no serious evidence that hydroxychloroquine works against coronavirus.
Weaver made no effort to look into what Giuliani and Kirk were referring when their astroturf posts claimed that hydroxychloroquine had a "100% effective rate treating COVID-19." That's obviously false, and Weaver should have admitted it. Instead, she played whataboutism, bizarrely complaining that "New York Times contributor and University of North Carolina professor Zeynep Tufekci said that the CDC and the World Health Organization misinformed the public."
The next day, Heather Moon joined the complaint parade:
Fox News host Laura Ingraham ran afoul of Twitter’s new Coronavirus rules, and was punished for it.
Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) tweeted: "Lenox Hill in New York among many hospitals already using Hydroxychloroquine with very promising results. One patient was described as ‘Lazarus’ who was seriously ill from Covid-19, already released." Ten days later, on March 30, Twitter demanded that tweet be removed.
A Twitter spokesperson explained that the tweet was removed due to a violation of its new policy regarding tweeting about COVID-19.
In the very next paragraph, though, Moon conceded that Twitter might have a case for removing Ingraham's tweet, noting that "A Fox News story about the Ingraham segment that this tweet referred to does carry a correction that the guest does not work for Lenox Hill and that his views are his own." Moon didn't mention that Ingraham was the one who falsely represented the "guest" as being employed by Lenox Hill Hospital.
Moon followed in Weaver's footsteps by declaring that "It is also the case that the FDA approved the treatment on March 29, the day before Twitter demanded that the 10-day-old tweet be removed." Of course, Moon didn't explain that the approval was for emergency use and was not an endorsement of its efficacy; instead, she huffed: "There are critics who do not believe that the FDA should have issued the emergency approval for the treatment without more rigorous testing. Could it be that Twitter is siding with critics over the FDA instead of allowing for a discussion from both sides of the argument?"
There isn't an "argument" here about which we need to hear "both sides" -- either the medication works, or it doesn't. Unsubstantiated anectodal claims are not the same as serious medical research. But then, facts aren't the point here;as with everything else the MRC does, adhering to Trump talking points is the only thing that matters.