The bizarre press conference Monday by self-identified doctors promoting hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment has become a campaign issue, with a congressman who attended the event at the steps of the Supreme Court being attacked for doing so.
Footage of the event, which was organized by the Tea Party Patriots and starred a handful of doctors who have criticized prevailing views on the pandemic, went viral on Monday afternoon racking up more than 13 million views on Facebook after it was boosted by pro-Trump social media accounts.
In it, Dr. Stella Immanuel declared that hydroxychloroquine cures COVID and that masks aren’t necessary. On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that the Houston doctor also believes that alien DNA can be used in medical treatments, that various gynecological ailments are caused by dream sex with demons and witches, and that reptilian aliens are involved in the American government.
Such beliefs are not the type of stuff that most politicians find comfortable to be associated with. And though Donald Trump himself retweeted the video and called Immanuel an “important voice,” Democrats are hoping that other Republicans may not feel such nonchalance.
Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) also attended the press conference, and can be seen standing behind Immanuel as she declares that masks aren’t necessary and compares doctors who won’t prescribe hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 to Nazis. Now his challenger, Democratic nominee Moe Brown, has turned the footage into an ad accusing Norman of promoting false information about the coronavirus by appearing at the event.
“Stop the disinformation,” the ad reads, after noting that the coronavirus death toll has claimed 150,000 people. “Vote him out.”
In a statement, Brown called Norman’s appearance at the press conference a “slap in the face” to healthcare workers in the state.
“1,500 South Carolinians are dead due to COVID-19, and Ralph Norman is using his elected office to hold press conferences in Washington peddling misinformation,” Brown said in a statement. “Ralph Norman’s stunt is a slap in the face to our medical professionals, first responders, and other essential workers who have been trying for months to get this virus under control. Congressman Norman’s actions are dangerous, disappointing, and literally a matter of life or death.”
Norman claimed in a statement that he attended the event to promote “the safe reopening of schools” and wasn’t aware that Immanuel planned to attack the use of masks. But Norman also criticized social media platforms for deleting videos of Immanuel’s speech.
“I was not privy to the remarks of Stella Immanuel ahead of time—I do not agree with her statements on the use of masks and I am not certified to recommend any particular prescription,” Norman said in a statemen to The Daily Beast. “However, I do feel strongly that she has every right to voice her opinion. In this country, we don’t silence voices because we find them objectionable.”
Despite Immanuel’s claims about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, she has refused to offer any scientific data supporting her supposed success treating COVID-19 patients with the drug. The FDA has revoked emergency use authorization for treating COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine, saying there was no proof it was useful in treatment.
Immanuel, meanwhile, has welcomed the coverage of her viral video and her beliefs about demons and aliens. On Wednesday, she urged cable networks to cover her claim that people “need deliverance from demon sperm.”