Fox News Channel anchor Neil Cavuto strongly urged viewers on Monday not to follow the example of President Donald Trump, who revealed that he is taking a malaria drug to protect against the coronavirus.
Trump said he has been taking the drug hydroxychloroquine for about a week and a half. The president, and some Fox News personalities, had earlier promoted the drug as a potential treatment for COVID-19, but the government has warned of potentially fatal side effects.
Cavuto, who has multiple sclerosis and other health issues, called Trump’s admission stunning and warned the drug "can kill you." He warned viewers in vulnerable health that they could face serious consequences if they followed the president’s example.
“This is a leap that that should not be taken casually by those watching at home or assuming, well, the president of the United States says it’s okay,” Cavuto said.
He said he was saying it “not to make a political point here, but a life and death point. Be very, very careful.”
Trump responded on Twitter late Monday by reposting a series of tweets in which his supporters called Cavuto “irresponsible,” “foolish” and “gullible.” The president added that Fox News “is no longer the same” and said he was “Looking for a new outlet!”
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Cavuto’s words carry weight because Fox News is the network of choice for many of the president’s supporters. Earlier this spring, the network was initially reluctant to criticize Trump following a news conference where he suggested injections of disinfectant could potentially help coronavirus victims.
Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked on CNN about Trump's taking the drug, said: "He's our president. I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and his, shall we say weight group what is morbidly obese, they say."
According to the results of an annual presidential physical examination conducted in February 2019, Trump had gained weight over the past year and was now in the obese range, although remaining in “very good health overall.”
Morbid obesity is generally defined as a body mass index (BMI) - a measure of weight relative to height - of 40 or higher. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is overweight and 30 or above is obese.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in an MSNBC interview that what Trump did with hydroxychloroquine was "reckless" and was giving people "false hope."