Trump's obsession with hydroxychloroquine is an encapsulation of his presidency

Scientists disagree with Trump's assessment of the drug — which is part of why he’ll keep pushing it

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

What began primarily as a series of tirades against the media and other perceived enemies in President Trump's daily press briefings about the coronavirus has in recent days devolved into a bizarre and brazen infomercial for hydroxychloroquine, something Trump has touted as a potential miracle cure for COVID-19. "What do you have to lose? Take it," the president said last weekend as he hyped the drug, an anti-malarial medication that lupus patients have long relied on for its anti-inflammatory benefits.

Health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director and sometime guest expert at Trump's daily pressers, have consistently pointed out that hydroxychloroquine has not been proven to be safe or effective against COVID-19. But that's not stopping Trump — or the conservative media universe that props up his presidency — from continuing to push the drug. And while reports this week showed the president has a small financial interest in the medicine, Trump has something even more precious to gain than money by promoting hydroxychloroquine: the puffing up of his power and authority through the continued undermining of expert knowledge and dissenting voices.

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Neil J. Young

Neil J. Young is a historian and the author of We Gather Together: The Religious Right and the Problem of Interfaith Politics. He writes frequently on American politics, culture, and religion for publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, HuffPost, Vox, and Politico. He co-hosts the history podcast Past Present.