Neil Cavuto responded to Donald Trump’s attacks on him by doubling down on warnings about hydroxychloroquine but he avoided calling out Trump’s dangerous falsehoods and recklessness.
I wrote yesterday that Fox had left Cavuto hanging out to dry after Trump attacked him for warning about hydroxychloroquine. As far as I can tell, the network has still been too cowardly to stand up for its own anchor and senior vice president. Its public “support” seems to amount to allowing Cavuto to stick to his guns on hydroxychloroquine but with only implicit criticism of Dear Leader.
Let’s be clear about what’s going on here. Giving Cavuto his lonely platform to speak the truth helps legitimize the rest of Fox News’ anti-science propaganda. If and when critics call out Fox “straight news” hosts such as Shannon Bream for allowing Ronny Jackson to compare Trump’s preventive use of hydroxychloroquine to the Secret Service, e.g., Fox can point to Cavuto to claim that it airs “all sides.”
Despite all that, I think it is important to note what Cavuto said and what he was told by Fox’s own medical expert in this segment, if only as evidence of what the network’s Trump lapdogs will blithely ignore. No less importantly, Cavuto deserves props for what he did say in the face of Trump's bullying.
Just after a Trump briefing concluded yesterday, Cavuto said Trump had been “revisiting“ “an issue that touched a lot of controversy,” meaning that Cavuto “was not fairly characterizing” hydroxychloroquine. REALITY CHECK: If Cavuto mischaracterized anything, it was Trump's attack on him. Instead of simply rebutting Cavuto like a grownup, much less a president, Trump went on a childish tirade against him.
Cavuto continued, “What was not misinterpreted is that there have been at least four prominent studies on the use of hydroxychloroquine for other issues beyond lupus and malaria, for which it’s more popularly used, and for which there have not been any real and noteworthy problems. The issue here is whether it is advisable to take to ward off Covid-19.”
Cavuto went on to read a statement from the Food and Drug administration on April 24 that “hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19.” Cavuto also cited studies backing up that conclusion. He stressed that there’s no reason not to take hydroxychloroquine for lupus and malaria. “As a preventive, though, when the Food and Drug Administration, itself, is saying it’s not advisable out of clinical trial basis - it’s risky to do — that should suffice the argument right there,” Cavuto continued.
Not mentioned was the significance of Trump disregarding science and his own FDA - while trying to bully someone suggesting Americans should heed them.
Cavuto brought on Dr. Marty Makary, a Johns Hopkins University professor of public health and also a Fox News contributor. In other words, somebody Fox presumably considers a trusted expert.
Makary backed up Cavuto’s assessment and all but called Trump a liar for saying “a lot of good things have come out” about hydroxychloroquine and that “many, many” “frontline workers” are also taking it. But again, the two avoided the dangerous implications of Trump's falsehoods.
MAKARY: We were all hopeful that there would be something there, Neil, and many doctors in Italy and even some in the United States took it prophylactically but the data has accrued now and it simply has not shown any benefit.
There are over 40 trials [worldwide] using hydroxychloroquine, none of which have yielded a positive result and many of the ongoing studies have interim analyses which have not reported out a positive benefit and we know there’s a downside of arrhythmias. So I think many physicians have stopped recommending it. Many physicians who took it prophylactically stopped taking it.
When we look back at the early enthusiasm, it was around a French study that said there was a 70% cure rate in 20 patients. Well, the original group was 26 and 6 of those patients were lost to follow up and two of them died. So it really was a poor study.
CAVUTO: Let me just be clear here, when you talk about those who took this, who noticed no statistical difference, what does that tell you, especially when the president did mention that thousands of people on the frontlines in this battle against COVID-19 are taking it, do you know that to be the case? Is it just an insurance policy? How would you describe it?
MAKARY: Well, we know in Italy it was talked about a fair bit among the physicians in their physician community. We know that some doctors in the United States took it and took it either if they got sick or even some prophylactically, a minority. But by and large, the scientific process has worked here and there is no data to suggest that it has any benefit and their harms are well recognized. So that’s where we are right now.
Any decent news operation would have considered this an important segment. But Fox News didn’t even post it online.
You can watch it below, from the May 19, 2020 Your World.