Disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker wants you to know that, as long as you’ve got his branded “Silver Solution” on your side, the novel coronavirus epidemic sweeping the globe doesn’t stand a chance. If only those pesky federal regulators hadn’t gotten in the way!
Bakker, a once-mainstream Evangelical disgraced by a sex scandal and a fraud conviction, is now best known for his relentless merchandizing, including with his buckets of freeze-dried food.
And with viewers’ virus concerns peaking last month, he recently took to marketing a miracle cure: “Silver Solution.”
“This influenza that is now circling the globe, you’re saying that Silver Solution would be effective?” Bakker asked the naturopathic doctor Sherrill Sellman on his Feb. 12 show, holding up a bottle of the product.
Silver Solution hadn’t been tested on the current strain of the coronavirus, Sellman responded, but “it has been tested on other strains of the coronavirus, and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours. Totally eliminates it, kills it, deactivates it.”
The Jim Bakker Show is suggesting that the silver solution it sells can kill the coronavirus within 12 hours. pic.twitter.com/kbUGnUp69m
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) February 12, 2020
Elsewhere on the same episode, Sellman said of the product, “it has been proven by the government that it has the ability to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on, including SARS and HIV.”
The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission told the Jim Bakker show Friday that that pitch, and several others, had crossed the line.
“You should take immediate action to correct the violations cited in this letter,” officials from the agencies wrote to Bakker’s show in a letter dated March 6.
“The claims cited above are not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence,” the regulators added later. “You must immediately cease making all such claims.”
New York Attorney General Leticia James also warned Bakker to stop selling the snake-oil cures in a March 3 letter.
The FTC and the FDA sent similar warnings to six other companies that falsely advertised an assortment of natural and herbal remedies, dietary supplements and colloidal silver as effective against coronavirus.
Bakker’s show didn’t respond to TPM’s request for comment. But representatives of three companies that received warnings — Vital Silver, GuruNanda LLC and Herbal Amy Inc. — told TPM they’d removed statements from their websites with which regulators had taken issue.
The FTC could take enforcement action against companies that continue to market “scam” treatments, FTC Chairman Joe Simons said in a statement.