A video of some people in white coats claiming to be doctors, broadcasting from in front of the Supreme Court building and making spurious claims about the COVID-19 pandemic — which the president of course retweeted — has been removed by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube citing their policies on misinformation.
A group calling themselves "America's Frontline Doctors," which seems to have been formed two weeks ago and whose website has already disappeared, promoted the insane video via Breitbart News. And in it, these doctors — none of whom is apparently an epidemiologist — stage an official-seeming press conference in which they say things like "you don't need masks" to prevent spread of the coronavirus, and hydroxychloroquine actually works to treat severe cases — both positions that have been debunked by science and actual doctors.
As CNN reports, President Trump had shared multiple versions of the video on Twitter Monday night before it was removed, and according to Breitbart, the video had racked up 17 million views on Facebook and tens of thousands more on YouTube.
A lab-coated woman in the video claims, "This virus has a cure, it's called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and Zithromax," and says that masks aren't necessary because this "cure" exists.
A study in Brazil has already debunked the use of hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax, and multiple other studies have shown no significant improvement in patients taking hydroxychloroquine — while the drug does take a toll on the liver and the heart in patients who take it. Other drugs, including the antiviral remdesivir and the common anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone have reportedly proven to be effective treatments, though both continue to be studied — and nothing has been proven to be a "cure" by any stretch.
Facebook didn't manage to remove the video before it racked up millions of views, but ultimately it did. "We've removed this video for sharing false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19," a Facebook spokesperson tells CNN, adding that they were alerting people who had commented on or shared the video that these claims have been debunked by the World Health Organization.
Twitter was working to remove multiple versions of the video on Monday night, and YouTube likewise removed the video saying it violated community guidelines.
Dr. Simone Gold, a Los Angeles-based emergency medicine specialist, is the supposed leader of "America's Frontline Doctors," and she has previously served as a talking head on Fox News saying that stay-at-home orders aren't necessary. She's also spouted the very Trumpian opinion that there is "no scientific basis that the average American should be concerned" about Covid-19, despite the fact that cases are surging nationwide, young people are dying, and we're about to cross the 150,000 mark of Americans who have died from it.
Another doctor featured in the video, African-born pediatrician and religious minister Stella Immanuel, gets up and touts the benefits of hydroxychloroquine — claiming to have treated over 300 COVID patients in Houston with the drug to great success. She is the one making the claim about the "cure" and saying masks and lockdowns aren't necessary. She also has a history of making insane claims about other medical issues, as The Daily Beast points out, saying that endometriosis and uterine cysts are caused by people having sex with demons in their dreams. And she reportedly thinks the government is run by aliens.
Somehow, in the ignorant corners of America and Trump's mind, it's still important to make the pandemic into a political fight, while the entire world watches in amusement and horror at how badly this country has bungled the fight against the virus, which knows no political allegiance.
So, thank you Trump, and thank you "America's Frontline Doctors" for giving voters yet another reason to see you for the venal and immoral people that you are. None of this makes sense except if you are a moron who believes that every other news organization in the world besides Fox and Breitbart is lying for some unfathomable reason, and down is up and the sky is green.