The President of the United States doubled down on his support of a doctors “summit” peddling the debunked COVID-19 drug hydroxychloroquine—just as social media companies crack down on the viral coronavirus disinformation that came out of the event.
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube removed a viral video of the event which had garnered millions of views after President Trump and others retweeted the clip. SquareSpace also suspended the website for America’s Frontline Doctors, which put on the event. The video featuring the eccentric Dr. Stella Immanuel, who claimed that the controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was a “cure” for COVID-19 and that masks aren’t necessary, was pulled from the platforms for sharing misinformation about the disease. Twitter also briefly locked the Twitter account of the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., when he tweeted the video and called it a “must watch!!!”
The viral video, which racked up more than 13 million views on Facebook, drew more attention to some of Immanuel’s more bizarre previous medical claims. The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that Immanuel has claimed in the past that some gynecological ailments are caused by people having sex in a dream-world with demons, with the demonic semen as the origins of the afflictions.
Immanuel has also claimed that doctors used alien DNA in medical treatments, and that lizard-like “reptilian” aliens are involved in the United States government. She thanked The Daily Beast on Tuesday for “summarizing” her work. “The Daily Beast did a great job summarizing our deliverance ministry and exposing incubus and succubus. Thank you daily beast. If you need deliverance from these spirits. Contact us,” she tweeted.
But she has refused to provide proof of her claim that she’s cured hundreds of COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine.
That didn’t chasten Trump, however, who praised Immanuel and her fellow Frontline Doctors at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “I can tell you this, she was on air along with many other doctors,” he said. “They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine and I thought she was very impressive in the sense that from where she came, I don't know which country she comes from, but she said that she's had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients, and I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.”
“For some reason the internet wanted to take them down and took them off,” Trump said of the group. “I guess Twitter took them off and I think Facebook took them off. I don't know why I think they're very respected doctors.”
Trump then described a woman, apparently Immanuel, as "spectacular" in her statements about hydroxychloroquine.
“I don't know why they took her off, but they took her off, maybe they had a good reason, maybe they didn't, I don't know,” Trump said.
Dr. Simone Gold, the leader of America’s Frontline Doctors, tweeted later Tuesday to announce the group had met with Vice President Mike Pence.
“We have just met with Vice President Mike Pence to request the administration’s assistance in empowering doctors to prescribe hydroxychloroquine without political obstruction. We also discussed the recent censorship of doctors on social media platforms,” Gold wrote.
The backers of the group and their White Coat Summit also ran with the censorship claims.
Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, which helped organize the doctors summit, retweeted Immanuel’s complaints that she and other participants were being “attacked, ridiculed and discredited” in the wake of the event.
“Doctors are being silenced by Big Tech,” Martin tweeted. “The leftist media don't want hydroxychloroquine to work because it will mean President @realDonaldTrump was right!”
Gold had also taken to Twitter to criticize social media companies for “censoring Physicians from speaking about COVID-19 and Hydroxychloroquine.”
Gold has become a popular pundit on the right for her controversial takes on the coronavirus pandemic. The doctor and Stanford law school graduate has endorsed the use of the Trump-approved drug hydroxychloroquine, which the FDA says is not an effective treatment for COVID-19, and is against the use of masks, calling it a “superstition.”
Before the summit, Gold worked with Tea Party Patriots to author a form letter to President Trump labeling lockdowns a “mass casualty event” and inviting Americans to ask their physicians to sign it and do an interview with Tea Party Patriots.
Gold’s admirers have also taken up the fight. She’s been a big hit on the right wing podcast circuit, doing interviews with pundits Dennis Prager, Charlie Kirk, and radio host Mark Levin. All three have since criticized the social media crackdown on content from the summit, with Prager University republishing Immanuel’s criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Levin lashed out at The Daily Beast’s coverage of Immanuel, calling it a “vicious smear machine” for accurately quoting her previous remarks.
Breitbart, whose video about the summit was suspended by Facebook, reposted the offending clip on their front page.
Earlier in the day at another White Coat Summit event, Immanuel slammed “professional hacks” in medicine who have criticized the use of hydroxychloroquine. But she saved special vitriol for doctors who refuse to prescribe the drug because they’re supposedly afraid of professional consequences, calling them “good Germans” — a reference to Germans after World War II who claimed they had never supported the Nazis.
“You’re no different than a murderer,” Immanuel said. “You’re no different than Hitler.”
-- Hunter Woodall contributed reporting