Fact-checking the WaPo "fact-checkers"

April 15, 2020 |

A WASHINGTON POST “Fact-Checker” column (quotation marks deliberate), not by Glenn Kessler but by Elyse Samuels and Meg Kelly, gives “Four Pinocchios,” the worst rating for lying, to President Trump for allegedly promoting hydroxychloroquine as a “cure” for the COVID-19 (Chinese –- that's a fact) coronavirus.

Where to begin? Aside from the headline, which makes sure to include the words “false hope” (they don’t know that), I suppose we could start right up front, with the quotes in which Trump allegedly tells his overwhelming LIES about it being a cure. Huge whoppers such as, “I don’t know, it’s looking like it’s having some good results. That would be a phenomenal thing.” And “It’s this powerful drug on malaria. And there are signs that it works on this. Some very strong signs.” And of course, “What do you have to lose?” Well, there’s a hardcore sales pitch!


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Likewise, the writers’ case for dismissing hydroxychloroquine (which is being used in combination with other drugs, not alone) is that there aren't yet any clinical trials proving efficacy. But here's a FACT: those take time, and people who might die in the next 24 hours don’t want to wait for results to come in months from now., especially with the many “anecdotal” accounts of the drug’s success. That’s why Trump said, “What do you have to lose?”

There have been some small-scale trials showing promise, such as those by French doctor Didier Raoult. But the authors wave his work off as “discredited.” But how? I followed the link in the story to the journal that allegedly “discredited” the study. Here is the entirety of what it said on that subject:

“The ISAC (International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy) Board believes the article does not meet the Society’s expected standard, especially relating to the lack of better explanations of the inclusion criteria and the triage of patients to ensure patient safety.”


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Does that mean the drug wasn’t shown to be effective? The WaPo writers certainly imply as much. We’ve talked about this very small study here, right after the news broke that a hydroxychloroquine “cocktail” of drugs had helped some patients in France. The news was encouraging, but very preliminary; I said at the time that it appeared to have been rushed out and that the French-to-English could have been smoother. My staff and I were as skeptical as anyone should be of the results of a preliminary study announced on Skype. But after that, there was another, larger study that supported the first, and French President Macron went to the institute where it had been conducted and reportedly received a three-hour presentation on the promising results. In light of this, it is not overselling the treatment for Trump to say there are “some very strong signs” that it works.

And there are other studies currently underway, including in South Dakota, the first state to launch one. None of this would be happening without a lot of encouraging “anecdotal” evidence.

The writers reference these studies and quote spokespeople as saying that’s it’s too early to know for sure.

But what about that growing mountain of “anecdotes” from the many people who report they believed they were about to die but quickly began recovering after receiving this treatment? One was the 96-year-old (!) father of Dr. Marc Siegel; he was quite ill before receiving the treatment but recovered in just a few days. Even a Democrat politician has credited Trump’s publicizing of the drug with saving her life. Well, ignore them all. The WaPo writers say that to a layperson, anecdotal evidence “may not sound bad, but it’s actually an insult in the scientific community,” akin to “a Yelp review.”

That assertion, in itself, is a distortion of fact. If someone cited only anecdotal evidence as “proof” of a “cure,” then, yes, that would be pseudoscience, but President Trump hasn’t claimed this. Personally, if my life were in the balance, there were no proven cure, and a few thousand Yelp reviews said “this medicine saved my life,” I would at least give it a try. And you know what? I’ll bet the authors of this hit piece masquerading as a “fact-check” would, too.

In FACT, according to a new survey by the healthcare staffing firm Jackson & Coker, 65 percent of physicians would prescribe the drug to a family member with COVID-19, and 67 percent would take it themselves. Only 11 percent said they would not use it. In other words, a vast majority of doctors are encouraged –- not insulted –- by the anecdotal evidence.

Another point they use to discredit the drug is that there can be serious side effects if not used under a doctor’s supervision. Isn’t that true of virtually all prescription drugs, which is why you need a prescription? Numerous doctors, even some cardiac specialists, have said this is one of the safest drugs on the market. (Read the list of possible side effects in the paperwork that comes with most prescriptions, and you’ll think twice before taking ANY drug.) This article even cites the very suspicious story about the man dying after deliberately swallowing fish tank cleaner containing a very different ingredient with a similar name. (Talk about relying on “anecdotal evidence” to prove your case!) Sorry, but I can’t find any example of Trump telling people to take this drug without seeing a doctor, or to ingest fish tank cleaner.

They also bring up the concern about lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients facing shortages of this drug because of the demand. I would say that if there is a demand, it’s because a lot of doctors –- repeat, doctors –- see the value in prescribing it for their COVID-19 patients. (See survey, above.) Ironically, the problem of supply vs. demand might actually be exacerbated by the tendency of politicians to “play doctor” and try to limit the use of the drug. A solution might be to go the opposite way: green-light mass production and distribution. A supply should, of course, be reserved for those patients already depending on it for maintaining their health.

The article also warns that a focus on this drug might cause researchers to “put all their eggs in one basket” and miss finding more promising treatments. On the contrary, those studies are going on as well.

Here are a few FACTS for those in the “fact-check” business who have trouble recognizing one. Trump has never called this a “cure.” He’s said he’s heard good things (so have I, so I know that’s true). He’s said what have you got to lose (if there is no other treatment, and the alternative is dying on a ventilator, that sounds pretty accurate as well.) It’s impossible to have perfect, long-term clinical trials at this stage; this is a never-before-seen virus and a treatment that’s only recently been tried. Many doctors, when faced with no alternative for a possibly terminal patient and no available clinical trials, make recommendations based on anecdotal evidence, particularly when there is a vast and growing library of it.

The authors surely know that slapping a "Four-Pinocchio" rating on Trump's comments implies to the public that they've made an ironclad case for deliberate, malicious LYING. Yet the last paragraph in particular reads more like an overly dramatic editorial than a dispassionate assessment of facts. And it is inaccurate (a LIE!!) for them to say that politicians and the media have turned this “unknown drug” into a “100 percent coronavirus cure.”

After reading through this article, I have to award Samuels and Kelly Four Pinocchios for their claim to be objective “fact-checkers.”

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Comments 1-25 of 115

  • Amelia Little

    05/30/2020 02:28 PM

    I want to scream each time a "reporter" suggests that the President is telling people to take the drug--First of all, it's a PRESCRIPTION drug, you can't just go to the pharmacy aisle and find it next to the Tylenol and Maalox. Second--even if a patient tells his doctor he wants this drug, it WON'T be prescribed until doctor and patient have had a discussion. And, even then, if the doctor doesn't think it's a good idea--he ISN'T going to prescribe it!!! Then, of course, they whine that the off-label use isn't approved by the FDA. They need to just check not only their own prescription medications, but also OTC drugs--look them up and see how many are being used off-label and have had no "approval" by the FDA.

    It's hard to find any of the utube videos of real time, actually practicing physicians (and other medical personnel) who are on the front lines who tell about the use of the hydroxychloroquine+ medication and the real life results. Well, can't even find videos of hospitals with empty beds, or with CPAP machines that have also been touted as the more effective (and less invasive/lethal) method of treatment than ventilators.

    On the one hand, they want to cry that treatments and "cures" are not being available soon enough (mishandling of the virus on the President's part, of course) yet, don't want to HEAR about anything that will alleviate the "crisis" (hasn't gone on long enough yet, you know.)

    It is oxy-moronic that the very ones who insist the President (and, really, any in his administration) are lying are the ones who are still taking a couple of words out of context and making up their own words to make the entire statement something it is not. THEY continue to lie about the lies they concoct.

  • Robert Kaschner

    04/19/2020 08:33 PM

    I take this opportunity to bring an important part of the Bible to the attention of your congregation that has been greatly ignored. I ask you only to consider reading the following verses of the Bible with a faithful member of your church.

    We are in a very difficult time in world history.  The Covid19 virus has taken the world by storm, and our country is facing a very troubling year in 2020.  Along with our personal and financial freedoms being curtailed, we find ourselves quarantined in our own homes.  We even face some tough battles regarding our freedom to worship!   We must find a way to not only overcome this problem, but to learn and thrive.

    It is my hope that you will find that these verses are the words of God and Jesus Christ, and worthy of further study and teaching!  This reading below will include you as the reader of words of Jesus Christ... and the reading by your church member, who will read as John (the disciple that Jesus loved).

    This is an actual conversation between Jesus Christ and the Apostle John!
                            ‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘’‘

    Jesus: “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come... and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.”

    John: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom, and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever!”

    John:  “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him,  and all peoples on earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be!  Amen.”

    Jesus: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

    John:  “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering, and kingdom, and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
     
    John:  “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet”

    Jesus:  “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

    John:   “I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me.   I saw ...someone like a son of man...When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said ”

    Jesus:  “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One.  I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!   And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

    Jesus:  “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”


    You have just read Jesus Christ’s own testimony- that the last book of the Bible is the direct word of God!  The Revelation is God’s own words!  This book is the only book of the Bible given to us DIRECTLY FROM GOD HIMSELF!!!  No other book of the Bible can make this claim.

    So knowing this, I only ask you to look at my website,   todaysrevelation.net  to see the most up to date, comprehensive analysis of The Revelation.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

    You will then see that John wrote seven letters to seven churches established by the disciples.  The judgment that Jesus Christ passed against each church is pertinent to every church today!   Where does your church stand among these seven church judgments by Jesus Christ?  If you have ignored the last book of the Bible, you fall into the category of one of the five churches told to repent!

    The Seals are in progress today!  The first four seals, or four horsemen, are man’s own fate that he has brought upon himself.   They started when Jesus pealed off the seals...but the fact is... God has not brought any of these judgements on mankind.  We have done it to ourselves!
                                Up to and including the Covid19 Virus!    
                         God’s first action against mankind is the Sixth Seal.

    We now await the sixth seal, even as I write this letter to you!!

    I pray that you will give this your full attention, and consider the importance of God’s own  words.

    John the Baptist, all of the disciples, and Jesus Christ told us to repent!  Jesus even told five of the seven churches to repent!  Look no further than Chapters two and three of The Revelation for proof.

                “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy,
          and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it,
                        because the time is near”.      (Revelation Ch. 1 verse 3)

    I challenge you, during such a stressful time as today, to consider looking at   todaysrevelation.net  and begin to seek the truth for yourself...and for those in your charge.

    You now have the time. It is now time to have the courage.

    Yours in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,  

    Bob Kaschner

  • AMY KLEBER

    04/19/2020 05:52 PM

    My take, Big Pharma can't inflate the prices of existing drug to line their pockets and support the Leftist!!!

  • Dot Whitley

    04/19/2020 01:14 PM

    It's good to read all of this information. It would be wonderful if the medicine actually took care of any long term side effects in these patients . I heard what President Trump said about it, so that doesn't have to be proven . The liberals can't hear anyway, so who cares about them ?

    Dot Whitley

  • Constantine Merkezas

    04/19/2020 08:30 AM

    Dear Former Governor, As a fellow Christian I must tell you that the lies you spew on a regular basis as some-kind of journalist leave me wondering if we are reading from the same Bible. Almost everything you and your colleagues at Foxy News propagate is slanted and dangerous. Otherwise my mother, who luckily I was able to save from the onslaught of Fox News lies a few years back, would have demanded that her doctor prescribe hydroxychloroquine as she fought valiantly to recover from the infection she likely incurred from her Fox-Loving friends. Luckily her faith and the excellent care she received allow her to defeat the virus.

    If its not a hydroxychloroquine cure, why would the Big O keep telling Americans to try it; "what have you got to lose". As a scholar history, and someone who by the age of eight was able to read the New Testament in the original Ancient Greek-version it does not take me long to research the crap you are spewing. When the cure/non-cure was recently tried on a more wide-scale basis in Brazil, 72 people died. I am a Christian who believes that God gave a man a brain and allowed us to developed and train doctors and scientists to perform in the most courageous manner in times like these. For whatever reason you have been granted a platform that touches the most vulnerable. Stop your idolatry of the demagogue in the White House, and return to the true teachings.

  • Harold Knowles

    04/18/2020 07:51 PM

    Dear Governor,
    If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is most likely a duck and we do not have to kill it and cut it open and inspect multiple slides of internal organs under a microscope to assert that it is a duck. The same is true of all anecdotal evidence - it doesn't have to be inspected under a microscope in exhaustive, long-term clinical trials to be true, legitimate and valid. ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE IS REAL EVIDENCE ! Tissues of internal organs observed under a microscope in exhaustive, carefully controlled, long-term studies can confirm that what appears to be a duck is, in fact, a duck. But if my children are starving, I am going to shoot the duck, roast it, and feed it to my children. If, when I shoot the duck, it turns out to be a stuffed toy, I will throw it away and look elsewhere for food. And if my rifle appears to be a broom to an uneducated observer, I am still going to load it and shoot it to feed my family or to protect them from violence and evil. I am NOT going to submit my rifle to government researchers for blind studies before loading it and shooting intruders bent on doing harm to me and my family. The fact that my rifle appears to be a rifle with which I can defend my family is sufficient evidence, albeit anecdotal, for me to load it and use it.
    When numerous doctors testify that they are having great results with Hydrochloroqine combined with "Z-Packs", that is anecdotal evidence but it is more than enough for me to take the medicine without fear. And fear, together with other insidious motives, is what appears to be driving the Covid-19 panic far more than any real danger from a virus no more lethal than the common flu.
    Thanks for all you are doing, Governor.

  • Georgia M Sneed

    04/16/2020 02:44 PM

    I know I would want my family to have every opportunity to try it. I have a Granddaughter who has sever allergies and I would want that for her.

  • Melinda Long

    04/16/2020 12:12 PM

    more falsehoods from people who KNOW nothing. I would definitely try the drug if I were sick. I will bet that there are plenty of people getting this medication (Hollywood elitists too) and getting better. This is so sad that these people who claim this is "lying" are scaring people to death with unwarranted lies themselves!!

  • Richard Nance

    04/16/2020 11:01 AM

    What are the science credentials of these two "fact checkers"? Their "reasoning" sounds quite elementary, but then their penchant for misquoting and misrepresentation places their journalism skills at even a lower level.

  • Jane Cummins

    04/16/2020 10:57 AM

    I love reading and hearing your commentaries and watching your show.

  • Sharon Loveall

    04/16/2020 10:26 AM

    Thank you, Gov. Huckabee. Could you please say something about ID2020?

  • Russ Rhynard

    04/16/2020 08:50 AM

    In our family we have our own anecdotal evidence. Our nephews wife was very ill with COVID 19. She was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator. Granted she was very young, age 34, and healthy prior to the disease. But she was given the drug cocktail including hydroxychloroquine. Within 24 hours she was taken off the ventilator and within 24 hours thereafter discharged from hospital on oxygen cannula at home. In less than two weeks she was deemed recovered and was able to reunite with her husband and young child. My medically trained daughter scoffs at this result and claims it was because she was young and healthy that she recovered so quickly. But my nephew and his wife think otherwise.

  • Ellen Klapperich

    04/16/2020 07:16 AM

    Gee even our Iron fisted Governor here in Michigan changed her tune nine days after banning dr.s from prescribing this treatment.

  • Michael Manoogian

    04/16/2020 07:10 AM

    Who would have thought that the press would lie to slam the President? Fact: Many of our common, effective treatments have never been through clinical trials.
    Why have ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, WaPo been so soft on China and at war with the President? Maybe it is their parent companies' (Disney, Viacom, Comcast, AT&T, Amazon) financial interests in China. The NY Times is an outlier as they are not in China but they have simply been on the wrong side of major events through its history.

  • Michelle R. Bourbon

    04/16/2020 01:59 AM

    I love your newsletters...Thank-you Mike Huckabee!

  • John Snigier

    04/16/2020 01:17 AM

    I enjoy your daily emails and your program on internet when I can. I am a 72 y.o. male with moderate - severe emphysema, edema and still work running my auto repair business. I am the only employee. I sleep with oxygen nasal cannalure (sp) and take a few medications & supplements including inhalers. It's uncomfortable to keep strenuous activity more than a few minutes. I work as an "essential service". If I caught Wuhan virus I would welcome this "cocktail"likely over a ventilator as "anecdotal evidence" has shown that high pressure air forced into the respiratory often has negative outcomes. Some evidence is that this virus causes red blood cells to not pick up and transport oxygen to the organs of the body. Perhaps the high pressure ventilator forces the virus deeper into the lungs? Hyperbaric oxygen chamber may not cause as much damage. However, this would be temporarily managing symptoms to "buy time." X-rays of affected lungs show "Ground Glass Opacity" in the bottom of both lungs - pneumonia is not this even or usually not in both lungs. The hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin (I'm very familiar with this antibiotic) seem to be what I would take if possible. I get pneumonia frequently and suffer exacerbation and get a "Z-Pack" and prednisone if I catch it early. God Bless you and yours. Stay safe.

  • Debby Davenport

    04/15/2020 10:32 PM

    I am so fed up with the so called "fact checkers". It is all biased. FB sends out videos showing how they are purposely blocking stories and posts that they claim have too many false statements. They now claim to be protecting us from "False News". There is a war going on. Good against evil. Satan has gotten a huge foothold in America and the world. His last hoorah before God ushers in the end times. Praying for America. Praying for revival. FACT - "God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." What a gracious, merciful Savior we have!

  • James Evart

    04/15/2020 10:03 PM

    Get the HCQ out there! "... green-light mass production and distribution [of HCQ]." (above). Why is it necessary to test for a virus in it's various iterations when there is a proven safe HCQ/Azith therapy that is 91% effective (the latest French 1061 patient case study)? Think it through. Get with it and save lives and the economy.

  • Noemi Garza

    04/15/2020 08:55 PM

    Mike I applaud you for clearing up yet another smear campaign against President Trump. I am a Lupus patient who has weathered this disease for 30 yrs and have taken hydroxychloroquine all this time and am still on it. It has NEVER given me any negative side effects in all these years. It is so frustrating to witness the horrible manner in which our President is consistently maligned by these misguided people. Think before all this is over the stats are going to reveal a significant amount of people that this drug saved, and it can’t happen soon enough!

  • Joyce Mathews

    04/15/2020 07:56 PM

    I’m amazed that a supposed “reputable” newspaper can publish lies and get by with it. Thanks for speaking the truth. If I was extremely ill and near death I would ask my doctor to try anything that might work to heal me. I’m guessing Samuels and Kelly would beg for the drugs if they were critically ill with Covid 19.

  • William E Durham

    04/15/2020 07:15 PM

    Get ‘em Governor! WaPo has turned into the worst kind of propaganda machine and will cost people their lives just to get Trump!!!

  • Dr. Raymond Hundley

    04/15/2020 06:52 PM

    I don't think that President Trump has overstated his case at all. These Washington Post "reporters" are the ones whose hyperbole, exaggeration, and blatant prevarication have once again shown their ruthless, bitter, and unmerited attacks on our President which continue to muddy the waters, sow disrespect for our leader, and deprive critical patients of what may be their last chance at life. Shame on them!

  • John Rosella

    04/15/2020 06:41 PM

    Great rebutal to WaPo. I no longer read the WaPo because of all the distortions of facts I’ve found since President Trump took office. I consider articles such as this unethical even for journalists who have tremendous leeway based on the First Amendment to the Constitution. In fact, I was a longtime Democrat that has left the party which I now consider the Party of Lies and Hate! The party seems to be experiencing a demonic possession.

  • DeEtte Moon

    04/15/2020 06:10 PM

    Both my daughter and her husband took hydroxychloroquine while they were VERY ill. They are both in recovery now. PRAISE GOD.

  • Suzanne Bullock

    04/15/2020 06:08 PM

    Great job Governor! Now please, please, please read this article and get President Trump's ear on it! It's time to end the hysteria, but we know darn well the lame stream media will never give this a moment's notice. https://townhall.com/columnists/marinamedvin/2020/04/15/israeli-professor-shows-virus-follows-fixed-pattern-n2566915