White House trade adviser Peter Navarro approvingly cited a pro-Trump cartoonist on Wednesday night to make his case that the White House’s public health experts are wrong on controversial anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine.
Over the past couple of weeks, Trumpworld has re-embraced hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment after a fringe doctor who believes in demon sperm declared in a viral video that the drug can “cure” COVID-19. President Donald Trump has doubled down on his support for that doctor, calling her “spectacular” and “very respected.”
At the same time, several experts on the White House coronavirus task force have attempted to push back against the president’s promotion of hydroxychloroquine. Coronavirus testing czar Brett Giroir, for instance, said it’s time we “move on” from the drug after several high-quality studies showed no benefit in treating coronavirus.
During an interview with CNN anchor Erin Burnett, Navarro—who recently said he took “exception” to Giroir’s remarks—continued his unapologetic promotion of the drug as a coronavirus treatment.
Reacting to top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci decrying the death threats his family’s received, Navarro insisted his own very public criticism of Fauci played no role in the hostility directed at the doctor.
“Those are fair policy disputes,” he shouted after Burnett brought up his op-ed where he claimed Fauci has “been wrong on everything” surrounding coronavirus, including hydroxychloroquine.
“Tony is a great guy, right?” Navarro continued. “There’s just disagreements. And on things like, for example, hydroxychloroquine, he has a strong point of view. There’s as many doctors on the other side.”
Arguing that there are many more experts who say hydroxychloroquine is not effective, Burnett added: “Peter, first of all, you’re an economist, not a scientist.”
After the CNN anchor cited Fauci’s and Dr. Deborah Birx’s recent dismissals of hydroxychloroquine and pointed out that there are five peer-reviewed studies that show the drug’s lack of efficacy, Navarro countered with a comic strip artist’s opinion.
“All right. Let me say this to you, okay?” Navarro exclaimed. “I reach out to all your viewers. Scott Adams—you know Scott Adams, right? He’s the guy who wrote the Dilbert cartoon. He did a beautiful ten-minute video on Twitter, and the thesis of the video is that CNN might be killing thousands because of the way they’ve treated that. So, I would just ask—I’ll let Scott Adams’ video be my defense on this.”
The video that Navarro referenced shows the Trump-boosting cartoonist pointing to a bunch of whiteboards while accusing CNN of killing tens of thousands of people because of their “dangerous” reporting on the drug.
Burnett was not so impressed with Navarro’s counterargument.
“Can I just say something? I find that to be offensive because he’s a comic strip writer,” she fumed.“I just said that because I want to be clear. I just said Dr. Fauci, Dr. Brett Giroir, and Dr. Deborah Birx.”
Navarro, meanwhile, contended that Birx had not “come out against hydroxychloroquine,” prompting Burnett to play a clip of Birx saying that there’s “no evidence that the drug improves those patients’ outcomes, whether they have mild-to-moderate disease or whether they’re seriously ill in the hospital.”
The Trump aide, meanwhile, seemingly revealed the real reason he’s so intent on pushing the drug even while the FDA has revoked its emergency use for coronavirus treatment.
“Let me tell you why I got involved with this,” he barked. “I got involved with this because as a Defense Production Act coordinator I’m literally sitting on 63 million tablets, 63 million tablets, of hydroxychloroquine that would help possibly four million Americans stay alive. And so I’ve got that stake in the game.”