Dr. William Haseltine, a real medical expert, all but called hydroxychloroquine, relentlessly promoted both by Fox News and Donald Trump as a cure for coronavirus, a “quack” remedy on Fox's The Daily Briefing show today. Don’t hold your breath for any of the primetime hosts to pay Haseltine any mind, though.
Unlike radiologist and Fox “Medical A-Team” member Dr. Nicole Saphier, Haseltine has actual credentials related to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Fox News describes him as having “recently returned from Wuhan where he chaired the 9th US-China Health Summit. He is a former Harvard Medical School professor and founder of the university’s cancer and HIV/AIDS research departments. He also serves as Chair and President of the global health think tank, ACCESS Health International. Dr. Haseltine was at the heart of the United States response to the HIV/AIDS and anthrax crises.”
In other words, don’t expect him to join Fox's Medical A-Team anytime soon.
Rather than air Haseltine’s wisdom on its most-viewed primetime shows, Haseltine appeared midday on Dana Perino’s The Daily Briefing. It’s one of Fox’s lowest-rated programs. So Fox is clearly doing its best to make sure Haseltine’s comments don’t interfere with its Trump-friendly plugs for hydroxychloroquine nearly everywhere else on the network - while using him as cover to say, see, we present a wide range of opinion.
“It’s sad to me that people are promoting that drug,” Haseltine said, without naming names. “We know already from studies, at best, it will have a very mild effect. At very best.”
He noted that one study found hydroxychloroquine has no effect, the other “a mild effect.” He added, “The net result is, whatever effect it has, it will be very mild. That drug has been used for years against many other viruses to no effect.”
Haseltine continued, “The thing that makes me sad about that story is some people may take it who are on other medications who [have] other underlying conditions and may have very serious, even life-threatening consequences. It is not something to take unless a doctor prescribes it.”
Perino nonetheless touted the “anecdotal evidence” of “people saying that they have had this Lazarus effect by using this drug.” As The Daily Beast pointed out, Perino seems to have gotten the “Lazarus effect” term from primetime host Laura Ingraham who, in turn, based it on comments of a doctor whose credentials she misrepresented. Not only that, but Twitter made her remove the tweet in which she also trumpeted the “Lazarus effect” as “misleading information.”
Haseltine could barely contain himself as Perino spoke. When she paused, he erupted:
HASELTINE: That is nonsense. Complete and utter nonsense. And in any situation, there are always going to be people who promote one kind of quack cure or another - and there are Lazarus effects. Every epidemic I’ve ever looked at, it’s always the case.
Let me just repeat: We know that at very best, this drug will have a very mild effect on changing the course of the disease, if it has any effect at all. That is what the data has shown so far, and I am convinced that that’s what further studies will show. And it is not without adverse consequence. It is irresponsible to promote this drug at this time.
“I hear you loud and clear,” Perino said. But then there was this curious exchange that suggests Perino is fully aware of her employer's shenanigans.
HASELTINE: People don’t want to hear that but it is unfortunately the case.
PERINO: Mmhmm, I know.
But Haseltine had some hope to offer. He said “convalescent antiserum" and “purified forms of that antiserum” can “really make a difference” both to critically ill coronavirus patients and to health care workers. “Those are real possibilities to save lives and to protect our healthcare workers in the reasonably close future,” he said.
Sadly, I think we all know that the only treatments Fox and its fake experts will promote are the ones favored by Trump’s “hunches.”
You can watch the authoritative medical advice most Fox viewers will probably never see below, from the April 6, 2020 The Daily Briefing.