Politics & Policy

The Left’s Ugly Reaction to Hydroxychloroquine

A TV screen showing President Donald Trump is pictured in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, November 9, 2016. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)
The idea that he is promoting the drug to boost the price of a mutual fund in which he owns shares is perhaps the most ludicrous conspiracy theory yet.

A  widely shared, four-person-bylined, “wow”-provoking New York Times story today informs us that Donald Trump is personally benefiting from his “aggressive advocacy” of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine because he owns stock in one of the companies that manufacture the drug.

The story might be one of the most ridiculous articles published by mainstream media in the Trump era — though, admittedly, the field is highly competitive. But while knee-jerk anti-Trumpism is expected, the angry obsession over the president’s championing of hydroxychloroquine is uniquely ugly.

For one thing, and I realize this might be difficult for some people to comprehend, it’s plausible, even likely, that Trump advocates for chloroquine because he is legitimately optimistic that a therapeutic answer might help Americans. Even if you feel he’s being reckless when speaking about the drug, you can accept that his intentions are good.

It’s also possible that Trump is hopeful about hydroxychloroquine because he thinks it will help his reelection. Desiring an outcome that benefits the vast majority of Americans, but also benefits you, is a perfectly sound moral position. Hoping for negative outcomes to strengthen your partisan position, on the other hand, is pretty nefarious.

In any event, the crack team at the New York Times thinks it’s unfurled the mystery. “As of last year,” reports the paper, “Mr. Trump reported that his three family trusts each had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, whose largest holding was in Sanofi.”

As far as we know, Trump probably owns less than $100 of Sanofi stock in one of his mutual funds. If things go well, say he triples his position, Trump will be taking in upwards of $300. Art of the Deal, indeed.

Though it’s unlikely. Sanofi is a French drugmaker that produces the hydroxychloroquine-label Plaquenil. The drug, however, isn’t patented, it isn’t particularly difficult to manufacture, and there are a bunch of giant pharma companies around the world already ramping up production of generic versions. Sanofi is less likely to benefit than Novartis or Bayer (check everyone’s mutual funds, pronto!).

So cunning is Trump’s scheme to spike his $1,000 mutual-fund position that he called India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, this week and convinced him to lift a ban and start exporting even more generic hydroxychloroquine to the United States.

The Left simply can’t accept that a Republican acts in good faith. If they’re not hiding some devious self-serving motivation, they’re under the thumb of a foreign power or a shadowy industry. If it’s not Big Oil leading George Bush into Iraq, it’s Mitt Romney trying to hand the country to his buddies at Bain Capital.

Working from this predetermined position, reporters are sure that Trump, who they think became president to fill the rooms in his D.C. hotel, isn’t merely peddling hope for hope’s sake alone.

All of this is just fodder for the screeching partisan minions, nothing else. If there were a healthy, functioning fourth column, a piece like this would never run.  Can you imagine any major publication running a piece linking Barack Obama’s praise of GM’s heavily subsidized electric-car manufacturing to a thousand bucks in a mutual fund?

Nor should it escape your attention that the New York Times will assign four reporters to write an amateurish hit job, but not a single one to mention serious rape allegations against the leading Democratic Party presidential candidate by a former staffer.

When Trump first mentioned hydroxychloroquine, reporters scoured the world to find overdose cases so they could claim the president had blood on his hands. When that effort came up short, they clutched pearls after some nitwit couple thought it wise to ingest fish-tank cleaning liquid. Now this.

Hydroxychloroquine is a prescription drug, not a pill that Americans can buy in bulk at the local Walmart and hoard in their closest and pop prophylactically each day. Media keeps asserting that Trump is “ignoring the experts.” Well, the president didn’t induce South Korean doctors to use hydroxychloroquine. He didn’t induce Indian doctors to use it. I assume American doctors who are now “off-labeling” the drug to patients have some medical reasons behind their thinking.

If doctors think it’s promising to look at it as a way to mitigate symptoms, why shouldn’t they go for it? It might help. It might not. Maybe another drug or treatment no one is talking about will emerge. There is nothing wrong with offering hope. Americans aren’t children, even if our media treats them as such.

David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun

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