Media Outlets Called Out For Misleading Reports That Man Died After Taking Coronavirus Drug Touted By Trump


Several news organizations came under fire this week for a story about an elderly Arizona couple that poisoned themselves after hearing President Donald Trump’s comments about a possible coronavirus cure.

NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard and Erika Edwards published a story Monday about a man who died, while his wife was hospitalized, after they both ingested chloroquine phosphate. The wife told NBC they were worried about contracting the coronavirus, and watched the president tout chloroquine as a possible cure for Covid-19 (even though it hasn’t been tested yet).

“I saw it sitting on the back shelf and thought, ‘Hey, isn’t that the stuff they’re talking about on TV?'” the wife said. “We were afraid of getting sick.”

While chloroquine can be used to treat malaria, NBC noted that the substance was not in its medicinal form when the couple drank it. According to Banner Health, the couple actually drank a cleaning chemical used to kill parasites in fish tanks.

When Hillyard posted portions of his phone conversation with the wife on Twitter, he didn’t mention what chloroquine phosphate is supposed to be used for. He did note, however, the part where he asked the woman if she heard the Food and Drug Administration say anything about a cure.

Separately, NBC’s Heidi Przybyla amplified Hillyard’s reporting with her own Twitter thread that went viral:

The story ended up getting traction with other outlets, who simply reported that the man died because he self-medicated with the anti-malaria drug Trump has been promoting.

“Man dies after taking malaria medication touted by Trump as possible cure for coronavirus,” The Hill reported, in a tweet that has since been deleted.

Axios was one of these outlets, though they later retreated from their previous framing by acknowledging that that they “did not reflect the full nature of the self-medication.”

While Trump continues to face scrutiny for promoting untested panaceas for the coronavirus, some on Twitter accused these outlets of burying crucial context — namely, that Trump never recommended anyone drink fish tank cleaner — to make the president look bad.

Non-conservatives too took issue with the idea of framing Trump as responsible for the man’s death.

Watch above, via MSNBC.

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