WND's Ivermectin Chronicles, Part 3
WorldNetDaily continues to cling to the discredited narrative that ivermectin is an effective treatment for COVID, but it also had to say goodbye to one of its favorite ivermectin-hawking docs.
By Terry Krepel
Attacking a researcher
Researcher Andrew Hill has told the tale of how he initially highlighted how ivermectin seemed to be effective for treating COVID -- but turned against that conclusion when he discovered medical fraud in previous pro-ivermectin studies and found that the remaining non-tainted ones showed no benefit for the drug. He wrote of the abuse and threats he received in response to that finding:
I was sent images of Nazi war criminals hanging from lamp-posts, Voodoo images of swinging coffins, vivid threats that my family were not safe, that we would all burn in hell. This was happening most days I opened my laptop in the morning to be confronted with a sea of hate and disturbing threats. Twitter did nothing after I reported these threats. So I had to shut down social media.
In December 2021, WorldNetDaily columnist Jack Cashill touted a harangue against Hill by Tess Lawrie -- whom Cashill insists is "a world-renowned data researcher from the U.K. with an international reputation for integrity" but who is in fact a rabid anti-vaxxer and equally rabid ivermectin enthusiast -- made in a Zoom call between the two. In it, she screeched that Hill was bought off by lobbyists, insisted that "All other countries are getting ivermectin except the U.K. and the USA and Europe are owned by the vaccine lobby," and sneered to him, "I don't understand how you sleep at night, honestly."
That harangue was later compiled into a video, and Art Moore devoted a March 8 article to promoting it, with an emphasis on attacking Hill:
At a time when the nations of the world were recording about 15,000 COVID deaths per day, Dr. Andrew Hill of the University of Liverpool was about to publish a meta-analysis for the World Health Organization and other leading health agencies indicating the remarkable effectiveness of a repurposed drug in treating COVID-19, reducing hospitalization by some 80%.
Needless to say, Moore made no effort to contact Hill for his response to being targeted in such a way, nor did he report on the death threats he received for following the science. Nor did he subject Lawrie's claims to any sort of fact-check -- he supports her narrative, being an ivermectin enthusiast himself, and is more than happy to be her stenographer.
Still defending ivermectin
Art Moore has been WND's biggest promoter of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID -- and biggest censor of the fact that legitimate testing has shown that the drug doesn't actually work in treating COVID. So whenever someone besmirches the drug (read: accurately report on it), Moore is there to defend its good name. He complained in an April 22 article:
Dr. Anthony Fauci says that to preserve his "integrity," he had to publicly "correct" President Trump on the validity of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for COVID-19.
Then Moore's defense brigade kicked in:
In fact, when the pandemic began, mass vaccination to quell a pandemic was an unproven novel therapy while physicians and medical scientists around the world were finding success using anti-viral drugs such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
Risch is an anti-vaccine activist, so he's much less "esteemed" in real life than Moore would like you to believe. Also, mass vaccination is has proven quite successful in the past to quell or eradicate diseases, smallpox and polio among them. And again, Moore linked to the anonymous website that claims to document ivermectin studies, which may be secretly run by WND's favorite fringe-right medical group, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
The defense continued:
One of the physicians punished for treating patients off-label is Dr. Meryl Nass, a Maine clinician and scientist. She points to a 2005 paper published by the CDC showing chloroquine the stronger form of hydroxychloroquine was an effective drug against SARS coronaviruses, exhibiting "strong antiviral effects."
In fact, Nass is an anti-vaxx extremist whose medical license was suspended because she lied to get an ivermectin prescription by falsely claiming a patient had Lyme disease.
Moore sent on to hype "prominent cardiologist and epidemiologist" Peter McCullough -- a major COVID misinformer -- for praising the South Carolina attorney general for issuing a legal opinion that permitted medications like ivermectin to be used for"off-label" uses.
Noticing that the word ivermectin is trending on the newly liberated Twitterverse under Elon Musk, the FDA has reprised its disingenuous "horse dewormer" smear of the drug as a treatment for COVID-19.
Moore then called on a fringe ivermectin promoter to hurl insults:
Dr. Pierre Kory, who has testified to the Senate of the effectiveness of ivermectin against COVID-19, fired back.
Moore also gave space to Kory to complain about a trial in Brazil that found ivermectin had no effect on COVID hospitalizations, insisting that "The dosage of the trial was far lower than everyday Brazilian clinicians were prescribing patients at the time to match the strength of the strain."
Moore touted the passage of an ivermectin-related gag order of sorts in a May 17 article:
Reacting to the suppression of certain "controversial" treatments for COVID-19, Missouri passed a law that bans pharmacists from questioning doctors who prescribe ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine for their patients.
Moore didn't mention that it is right-wingers who are politicizing the drug by using it as a cudgel to turn health care itself into a political battleground. Nor did he mention that forbidding pharmacists to question doctors is a form of censorship.
Mourning dubious doc Zelenko
From the early days of the COVID pandemic, WND was a huge fan of Vladimir Zelenko, a doctor in a Hasidic Jewish community in New York who declared that his treatment of hydroxychloroquine, zinc and other drugs for COVID cured every single patient he tried it on -- never mind the statistical improbability of that, or that he had no competent documentation to prove it. Zelenko departed the community shortly afterward when community leaders rebuked him for making irresponsible claims, but he went on to fame and fortune in the right-wing community that WND occupies, in which legitimate doctors are ignored and denounced and fringe figures like Zelenko whose research is shady at best -- and whose "Zelenko protocol" still lacks any legitimate research into its effectiveness -- are treated as the real experts.
WND loved Zelenko so much, in fact, that earlier this year it made a business deal with him. Moore interviewed Zelenko for a Feb. 8 article, touting how Zelenko "has developed an over-the-counter formulation to treat COVID-19 called Z-Stack that contains zinc, quercetin, vitamin D and vitamin C," adding, that "Zelenko has explained that the key virus killer is zinc, which has a known antiviral effect, and it's drugs like hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin and quercetin that "open the door to the cell and let the zinc in." In fact, there's little evidence that zinc works against COVID, and there's little evidence that Zelenko's supplement works as advertised.
But it's not until the end of the article that it's revealed the whole thing is a cross-promotional deal:
IMPORTANT NOTE: WND IS NOW OFFERING DR. ZELENKO’S FAMED over-the-counter treatment Z-STACK: An early champion of hydroxychloroquine for combatting COVID, even advising President Trump about its use, Dr. Zelenko saved hundreds of lives even during the earliest months of the pandemic. As his reward, he was banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, vilified by the media, and New York’s governor blocked his patients’ access to hydroxychloroquine.
In other words, there's a reason Moore didn't ask Zelenko any challenging questions -- they're both trying to sell you something. The fact that WND has taken sides on the COVID debate for money means its "journalism" cannot be trusted (though, frankly, it hasn't been trustworthy for years before this).
When Zelenko died in June -- surprisingly, not from COVID but from cancer -- Moore served up a hagiographic obituary in a June 30 article:
When Dr. Vladimir "Zev" Zelenko countered the government and medical establishment orthodoxy in his development of a successful treatment for COVID-19, he knew he was on borrowed time.
Moore didn't mention the business deal WND had with Zelenko.
Oh, about that "peer-reviewed paper": A blogger reported that Zelenko's co-authors are hydroxycholorquine enthusiasts, and the journal where it was published is linked to another HCQ enthusiast, Didier Raoult, which has published other dubious studies on the medication with equally dubious links between the authors and Raoult, raising questions about editorial independence. Raoult also tried to sue and doxx his critics for demonstrating his shoddy research, showing a certain lack of temperament for research.
Moore spent the rest of his article defending the honor of hydroxychloroquine and touting how Zelenko's so-called research got attention from Donald Trump and was criticized by Anthony Fauci. He didn't disclose the business deal WND had with Zelenko.
Misrepresenting another study
Moore found a new study to mislead about in an Aug. 31 article:
A large study on the impact of using ivermectin as a prophylaxis for COVID-19 found that regular users of the drug experienced up to a 92% reduction in mortality compared to those who did not.
But as fact-checkers at actual news organization Reuters pointed out, the study is observational, not direct research, meaning that it "cannot prove that ivermectin is the reason for apparent reductions in risk of death from any cause or from COVID-19 specifically. And that's just the start of the study's issues:
First, in addition to being unable to confirm whether ivermectin users actually took all the medication they received from the program, the authors acknowledge but do not factor-in the possibility that people identified as non-users or irregular users could have acquired the drug outside the city’s program and taken it on their own.
In short: it's a low-quality study that ultimately can't definitively prove what it claims. Reuters summed up:
Observational studies like the one from Brazil help generate new ideas but do not provide the evidence required to make clinical or public health recommendations, Seidner said. “In light of so much better data showing ivermectin is not helpful, even in the early stages of COVID-19, the findings of this study should not be used for much more than to potentially encourage a better study to be done to explore its safety and benefit as a prevention agent.”
Moore won't tell you any of this, of course; instead, he spent the rest of his article rehashing old grievances about how legitimate medical authorities have repeatedly pointed out how legitimate medical research has shown that ivermectin really doesn't work against COVID, invoking shady COVID misinformers and fellow ivermectin enthusiasts like Pierre Kory and Harvey Risch.
Speaking of Risch, Moore he got the full softball interview treatment from Moore in an Oct. 16 article. Because Risch had to be puffed up to give his misinfo some gravitas, Moore led things off by reciting his qualifications:
Dr. Harvey Risch has a distinguished career as a professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, with more than 300 original peer-reviewed publications that include advances in cancer research. He's the editor of the International Journal of Cancer, associate editor of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and for six years was on the editorial board of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Indeed, Risch has lowered himself to doing interviews with less-than-credible outlets like WND precisely because he knows he'll never be exposed as a misinformer and always be celebrated as someone with a "distinguished career" who can be portrayed as a "victim" whenever his misinformation gets called out by more credible media outlets. And he knows that an anti-vaxxer reporter like Moore will always suck up to him and hype that "distinguished career" and never ask him challenging questions that threaten the narrative he's trying to push.
Moore was in full defender mode again in a Nov. 23 article:
In a lawsuit by three doctors accusing the FDA of interfering in their treatment of COVID-19 patients with ivermectin, a lawyer for the agency insisted that urging people to "stop" taking the medicine was merely an informal recommendation.
The FDA’s lawyers also pointed out that although the doctors bringing the case allege that the statements interfered with their ability to practice medicine, the doctors also said that they continued to prescribe ivermectin for COVID-19 patients despite the FDA’s online posts.
FactCheck added that "randomized clinical trials have repeatedly found that ivermectin does not benefit COVID-19 patients"-- something Moore will never tell his readers because he's too invested in the right-wing pro-ivermectin narrative. Indeed, that touting of "93 randomized controlled trials" comes from an anonymous website that, as we've noted, may be secretly run by the fringe-right, anti-vaxxer Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and there's arguably more quality research showing that ivermectin doesn't work to treat COVID.
There are reasons WND is perpetually on the edge of extinction, and Moore's sycophancy and insistence on clinging to narratives over facts are just a couple of them.