Twitter on Monday morning deleted Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s viral tweet posted earlier this month touting the drug hydroxychloroquine as having been used by one New York hospital with “very promising results” and claiming that one “seriously ill” patient had a Lazarus-like recovery from the coronavirus thanks to it.
On two consecutive nights earlier this month, Ingraham hosted an oncologist she described as being “with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City” to promote the anti-malaria drug that President Donald Trump has peddled as a “game changer” in treating COVID-19.
The primetime cable star repeatedly touted the doctor’s credentials and purported findings on the drug’s effectiveness, later repeating his claims to other TV guests and on social media. But, as it turns out, the doctor is not employed by Lenox Hill.
On her March 19 show, when Ingraham first interviewed that oncologist, Dr. William Grace, he claimed that, thanks to hydroxychloroquine, “we have not had a death in our hospital. We have probably close to a 100 patients, and not had any deaths.” And during a later segment with a different doctor, Ingraham referred back to Grace’s claims about Lenox Hill, adding that he told her about one near-death individual at the hospital who was miraculously saved by the drug.
“One patient was described as Lazarus getting up after—after he was, he was like on death’s door,” she breathlessly exclaimed. “And they started getting a protocol of hydroxychloroquine at Lenox Hill, and it suddenly like Lazarus, up from the grave. I mean that’s an actual case.”
Ingraham was so impressed by that anecdote that she tweeted about it the next morning. “Lenox Hill in New York among many hospitals already using Hydroxychloroquine with very promising results,” Ingraham wrote on March 20. “One patient was described as ‘Lazarus’ who was seriously ill from Covid-19, already released.”
Twitter deleted that post on Monday, confirming to Mediaite that the post was removed because it fell under their “misleading information policy” with its “Heightened-risk health claims.” A Twitter spokesperson further confirmed to The Daily Beast that the platform required the tweet to be deleted by the account’s owner under the threat of being suspended.
Ingraham’s post had remained on Twitter for ten days, despite Fox News quietly burying the fact that she had misrepresented Dr. Grace as being employed by the hospital about which he repeatedly made miraculous claims.
After a second appearance on Ingraham’s show, on March 21, in which Grace once again touted hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus cure, Fox News posted the segment on its website with the headline: “Malaria drugs touted by Trump can work against coronavirus, top doc tells Laura Ingraham.”
The following day, however, freelance author Nancy Levine reported that Lenox Hill informed her that “Dr. Grace is not employed by the Hospital. He is a private physician who has admitting privileges. His views are his own and do not represent the hospital.” A hospital spokesperson confirmed this statement with The Daily Beast.
And so Fox News quietly added a correction: “Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Dr. William Grace’s relationship to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Dr. Grace is not employed by the hospital and his opinions given below are his own.”
But Ingraham’s tweet remained up, and she has yet to correct herself on-air. Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Fox star’s misleading segments also appeared to result in a New Jersey State Sen. Joe Pennachio lauding Grace’s anecdotal evidence. Repeating Ingraham’s misrepresentation, the Republican lawmaker billed the oncologist as a “top” doctor “at Lenox Hill Hospital,” and touted hydroxychloroquine as a result.
President Trump has also seemingly been influenced by the misleading claims of Fox News stars and their guests as part of his push for hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 cure.
Last Monday, the president gushed over the Lazarus-like resurrection of a coronavirus patient who was supposedly saved by the drug. Trump did not provide any other specifics on this individual, and could very well have been talking about the purported Lenox Hill patient, seeing as the president is a vociferous consumer of Fox News primetime shows like Ingraham’s.
And after Gregory Rigano—a lawyer who misleadingly claimed he was an adviser to Stanford Medical School—made several appearances on Fox News this month hyping a small French study’s findings on hydroxychloroquine, the president eventually touted the drug’s possible game-changing impact during his March 19 press briefing.
The White House is also currently evaluating a plan pushed by a conspiracy-peddling family doctor who claimed he has successfully treated hundreds of coronavirus patients with the anti-malarial drug. Incoming White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows reportedly reached out to Dr. Vladmir Zelenko after Fox News host Sean Hannity touted his findings in an interview with Vice President Mike Pence, prompting Trump to flag the segment for his aides.
The study that Fox News and Trump have cited to promote chloroquine’s effectiveness, meanwhile, has come under criticism from health experts for having severe limitations.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has urged caution to those boosting the drug as a solution to the pandemic, pointing out that evidence of its efficacy is only “anecdotal” and saying more clinical trials are needed.
Last week, the administration said that the FDA was approving “off-label” use of the drug for coronavirus patients and clinical trials have started nationwide, including in the hard-hit New York area, in order to study the drug’s effectiveness.
The CDC, however, currently notes that there’s “no currently available data from Randomized Clinical Trials (RCTs) to inform clinical guidance on the use, dosing, or duration of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis or treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”