By Helen Buyniski*
Mainstream media fact-checkers have rushed to the rescue after US President Donald Trump mused that injecting disinfectant might cure Covid-19. Except he said no such thing, and claiming he did is the laziest kind of “fake news.”
Trump delivered a typically rambling riff on his medical advisers’ latest revelations on Thursday night, waxing rhapsodic about the possibilities of using UV irradiation inside the bodies of coronavirus patients. “Supposing you hit the body with a tremendous ultraviolet or very powerful light… supposing you brought the light inside the body, either through the skin or in some other way,” he said.
“And then I see the disinfectant – where it knocks it out in a minute… and is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?”
While Trump was clearly talking about generally finding a way to ‘clean’ the body on the inside like disinfectant does on the outside, his media nemeses seized on the words “disinfectant” and “injection,” and concluded that the president was suggesting the coronavirus-stricken be shot up with the likes of Lysol or Dettol. #Resistance Twitter, in the grand Orange Man Bad soothsaying tradition, took it half a step further to assume he suggested injecting “bleach or alcohol.” Some even grafted on references to the ancient “Tide Pod Challenge” meme.
Mainstream media pounced on the “Trump says drink bleach” narrative, distorting the game of telephone one step further with its usual patronizing ‘fact-checks.’ “Mr Trump suggests injecting patients with disinfectants might help treat coronavirus,” the BBC breathlessly claimed on Friday before reminding its readers that “Not only does consuming or injecting disinfectant risk poisoning and death, it’s not even likely to be effective.” Better write that down in case you forget!
They were far from the only ones. The Telegraph reported: “Medics react with horror as Donald Trump claims injecting disinfectant could treat coronavirus.” New York magazine ran with “Trump Suggests Injecting Disinfectant as Potential Coronavirus Treatment.”
Reckitt Benckiser, maker of Lysol brand disinfectant, even issued a statement warning against “administering” its products into the body “through injection, ingestion, or any other route.”
The media might defend their alarmism by pointing to the man who died after eating chloroquine phosphate, a fish-tank cleaner chemically related to the malaria drug chloroquine, supposedly because the president had championed the latter as a treatment for coronavirus.
However, Trump never told Americans to rush out and consume the drug, and trying to lay the blame for that man’s death at his feet is as absurd as translating “maybe we should try using UV radiation inside patients” to “let’s inject patients with bleach.” And if the media truly believe Trump supporters are so suggestible they’ll consume anything the president expresses a preference for, they’re actually putting those people in danger by claiming Trump likes the idea of injecting coronavirus patients with Lysol.
It’s not clear how running with the worst possible interpretation of the president’s words accomplishes anything but infantilizing him and his supporters, and allowing the media priest class that has tasked itself with interpreting his words to feel smug and superior. But then, that may be the point.
*Helen Buyniski is an American journalist and political commentator at RT. Follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23