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Barr claims media ‘jihad’ against Trump over promotion of anti-malaria drug

Attorney General William Barr late Wednesday claimed that the Washington press corps is on a “jihad” against President Trump over his promotion of an anti-malaria drug to treat the novel coronavirus. 

In an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, Barr lauded Trump’s response to the outbreak of the virus, saying that the president has been “very statesmanlike” in his efforts to work with governors around the country to address the crisis. 

He railed against the media’s coverage of those efforts, though, arguing that the president has been the target of “snarky, gotcha questions from the White House media pool.” He said that as soon as Trump promoted hydroxychloroquine, the press launched a concerted effort to discredit the drug. 

“The stridency of the partisan attacks on [Trump have] gotten higher and higher,” he said. “The politicization of decisions like hydroxychloroquine, it’s been amazing to me.”

“Before the president said anything about it, there was [a] fair and balanced drug of this very promising drug,” Barr continued. “And the fact that it had such a long track record, the risks were pretty well-known. As soon as Trump said something positive about it, the media’s been on a jihad to discredit the drug.”

Trump has aggressively promoted hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, even as leading health experts warn that not enough is known about the drug’s effects. 

Speaking at a White House briefing earlier this week, the president said that the government stockpiled 29 million hydroxychloroquine pills and suggested that Americans had nothing to lose by taking it. 

“What do you have to lose?” he said. “I’m not looking at it one way or another. But we want to get out of this. If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn’t do it early.”

“What do I know? I’m not a doctor,” he added. 

But Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a medical doctor, has stressed caution. He said on CBS’s “Face The Nation” on Sunday that the data about the drug is still just “suggestive.”
 
“I think in terms of science, I don’t think we could definitively say it works,” he said. 
 
No drug or therapeutic treatment has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes on its website that hydroxychloroquine, which is also used to treat lupus, and chloroquine are “under investigation in clinical trials for pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and treatment of patients with mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19.”
 
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has also said that the early responses to hydroxychloroquine “anecdotally” suggest that it’s been effective as a COVID-19 treatment. 
 
“There has been anecdotal evidence that it is promising; that’s why we’re going ahead,” he said earlier this week, noting that an official study with more concrete data would not come for months.
Tags Andrew Cuomo Anthony Fauci Antimalarial medication Coronavirus Donald Trump Hydroxychloroquine Laura Ingraham William Barr
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