The anti-Trump media’s latest circus act is a doozy. The freshest accusation is that the President Trump is commenting on hydroxychloroquine only to enrich himself. The idea was first blurted out by liberal talking heads with no evidence, but rather the righteous hope to find a smoking gun that finally proves Trump is motivated by greed. It’s a beautiful train wreck of glorious confirmation bias.
”A lot of people would say, follow the money. There’s got to be some sort of financial tie to someone, somewhere that has the president pushing this repeatedly.” -Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s Morning Joe
“There’s Got to Be…”
This sort of biased, sensationalist assumption was low hanging fruit for more serious, left-of-center, investigative journalists. Mika did her job, and now the righteous army of keyboard warriors only needed to “follow the money” and prove what they already knew. This step is just a formality. Find the nuggets, separate them, discard those that don’t support the desired narrative, shine up the ones that do, and present them as hard news.
Here’s a sampling of headlines crafted with the express goal of proving Orange Man Bad®, many of them leaning on the journalistic “integrity” of the New York Times.
- Trump Has ‘Financial Interest’ in Hydroxychloroquine Manufacturer: NYT -The Daily Beast
- Trump holds “financial interest” in pharmaceutical company that produces hydroxychloroquine: NYT -Salon
- ‘Follow the money’: MSNBC contributor blows the lid off Trump’s personal stake in drug he’s pushing as COVID-19 cure -Raw Story
- Donald Trump Has Stake In Hydroxychloroquine Drugmaker: Report -The Huffington Post
This sort of outlandish reporting bias will only add more fuel to the enthusiasm fire already raging among Trump’s base.
Let’s take a deeper look into the president’s “personal stake in the drug,” shall we?
Yes, the president holds mutual funds in a family trust that includes shares in Sanofi SNY (NASDAQ), a French pharmaceutical company that makes hydroxychloroquine. This is the nugget that is front and center in stories spun by leftist media. There is evidence! CNN links Trump’s form 278e, a report that discloses the private holdings of the president. This document from the US Office of Government Ethics adds weight to the accusation. It does look very “official” and “investigative” after all. The “journalists” crafting these stories make sure to explain that Trump has a stake in SNY. More importantly, they emphasize that SNY is the fund’s largest holding.
That brings us to what these writers omit from their hard hitting bombshells. It’s a fine lesson in omission bias, and highlights why the President’s attacks on “fake news” are more than warranted.
Omission #1: The president has no direct control over these investments. The mutual fund’s manager controls all investment decisions. But wait! The president probably knows what the largest holding is in the fund, so he can still make decisions to help that company and benefit! While that’s a wild assumption of motive it is factually true, so let’s continue.
Omission #2: While SNY is the largest holding in the Dodge & Cox Global Stock Fund under scrutiny, “largest” in this case means 2.9%. This number is not shared in these hit pieces.
Omission #3: The president has a total of $45,000 invested in this fund across three family trusts, so his total investment in SNY is $1,305. Do you think this will help compensate for the revenue loss suffered across the Trump hotel and entertainment businesses due to his decision to shut the economy down? Clearly, he’s a greedy pig.
Omission #4: Sanofi divested its interest in hydroxychloroquine in 2013.
Omission #5: As a drug that has been around for well over a half-century, hydroxychloroquine can be manufactured freely, so Sanofi is not the only company to manufacture it, other companies that make it include Mylan, Teva, Amneal, Novartis, Bayer, Cadila, Torrent, IPCA Labs, and others.
Omission #6: The cost for a month’s treatment with hydroxychloroquine is $25.
Omission #7: Many companies who manufacture hydroxychloroquine have provided it as a free donation in the COVID-19 fight to the tune of over 16 million doses so far. Considering the low cost of the drug, the large number of manufacturers, and the large number of pills being donated, this is not exactly a drug you can get rich on as an investor.
So the next time some social media warrior tries to show you the “proof” that President Trump is speaking of hydroxychloroquine only to enrich himself, share the facts that a biased media conveniently omits.
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