The White House and several prominent defenders of President Donald Trump twisted themselves into knots Friday, attempting to “fact check” reporting on the President’s own suggestion that injections of disinfectant could prove effective against COVID-19.
In a statement to TPM Friday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany didn’t deny what Trump had said the night before, but she did accuse the media of “irresponsibly” taking the President out of context.
“President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing,” McEnany said. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”
But Trump undercut that defense and others pretty quickly Friday, telling reporters he was just kidding around when he suggested injecting disinfectants: “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” he told reporters in the White House, according to a pool report.
During a White House press conference the night before, a DHS official referred to a study showing that UV light and disinfectant were effective in killing the novel coronavirus on non-porous surfaces like playground equipment, Trump took things about a dozen steps further.
First, he suggested that UV light or “just very powerful light” could be brought inside the body to treat COVID-19, “either through the skin or in some other way.”
Then, Trump noted that “disinfectant knocks it out in a minute.”
“Is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” Trump asked the DHS official. “Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it’d be interesting to check that. So that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with.”
After that spiel went viral — but before Trump claimed Friday that he didn’t actually mean it — a few of Trump’s most ardent defenders stepped in to try and help.
Joel Pollack, editor-at-large of the far-right website Brietbart, “fact-checked” reporting that Trump had suggested injecting people with disinfectant to cure COVID-19.
Except, it wasn’t much of a fact check.
“Trump used the word ‘inject,’ but what he meant was using a process — which he left ‘medical doctors’ to define — in which patients’ lungs might be cleared of the virus, given new knowledge about its response to light and other factors,” Pollack wrote.
Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strips and a contrarian writer and Twitter personality, hopped on the band wagon next.
Trump wasn’t just making stuff up, Adams insisted. He had simply “speculated about far-UV light catheter technology.”
Adams posted a video of a new catheter device, “Healight,” being inserted into a hypothetical patient’s breathing tube and shining UV light on their windpipe and lungs.
“There’s a massive IQ test on the Internet today,” Adams wrote separately, referring to people who disagreed with him.
There's a massive IQ test on the Internet today. If you think the president was asking Dr. Birx about injecting bleach or isopropyl alcohol into coronavirus patients — because it sounded that way to you — you failed the test. https://t.co/Dd8XInEvom
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) April 24, 2020
If Trump was referring to the new medical device, he didn’t make that clear Thursday.
Asked if Trump really was referring to the UV light catheter technology, a White House spokesperson told TPM simply, “I don’t know the answer to that one.”
This post has been updated.