'It's going to cost lives': Rachel Maddow slams Trump for false claims about malaria drug being 'very effective' against coronavirus

Sirena Bergman@SirenaBergman
Saturday 21 March 2020 12:30
news

Commentator and TV host Rachel Maddow has gone off on a serious rant about President Trump and people are into it.

On her MSNBC show last night, she spoke about Trump's coronavirus press briefing, which was about as weird as you might expect.

He refused to answer questions, instead criticising reporters for asking them, pretended not to know who his own former press secretary was and caused his own advisor to facepalm at him on live TV.

But the clip Maddow chose to highlight was perhaps the most disturbing, in which Trump makes a bunch of completely bizarre claims about how chloroquine, a malaria drug he claimed yesterday might be available soon, but which the FDA says needs further study, will work for coronavirus. (Spoiler: experts don't agree.)

Trump said: "This has been prescribed for many years for people to combat malaria, which was a big problem, and it was very effective, it's a strong drug."

When asked whether the treatment was effective against Sars, a coronavirus which led to an outbreak in the early 2000s, he replied:

"It was very... it was, as I understand it, I... is that a correct statement? It was fairly effective on Sars."

At that point Dr Anthony Fauci, who was standing behind the president, stepped forward to in no uncertain terms contradict him: "You've got to be careful when you said it's 'fairly effective'. It was never done in a clinical trial."

Dr Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Maddow did not mince her words in response to this exchange, saying:

President Trump today again just flat-out wrong in public about this malaria drug that has gotten stuck in his mind, quite some distance from the facts. Yesterday President Trump proclaimed that that drug had been approved as a coronavirus treatment and would be available 'almost immadiately' for use. Within moments the FDA had to clean that up because that is not true at all. It is not at all approved for coronavirus treatment.

But the president loves saying things like" 'There's a drug we've got! It's very effective! It's approved! already! Everybody's going to get it!' He loves saying things like that because that would be a lovely thing to be able to tell people. Unless of course that's not true, in which case telling people a fairytale like that is cruel, and harmful and needlessly diverting and wildly irresponsible from anyone in any leadership role.

She continued:

It's actually wildly irresponsible if anybody said that to you from a bar stool... If any of us could go to bars any more.

And it doesn't stop there. Maddow went on to list some of Trump's most outrageous remarks on coronavirus, while debunking each and every piece of nonsense.

Ooof.

And it doesn't end there. She closes out by saying:

There's a clear pattern here in this crisis, of the president promising stuff that he knows America would love to hear, but it's not true. And even stuff that he's saying that he will do, that the federal government will do – he's not doing.

She went on to explain why this is so irresponsible ("it's making people around the country count on the fact that the government is doing this stuff when they're not").

If it were up to me (and it's not) I would stop putting these daily briefings on live TV. Not out of spite, but because it's misinformation. If the president does end up saying anything true, you can run it as tape. But if he keeps lying as he has done every day about stuff this important, all of us should stop broadcasting it. Honestly, it's going to cost lives.

It's a strong statement from a journalist who has historic beef with Trump, but many agreed with her message.

Trump has yet to comment...

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