News and Commentary

Media Trying To Salvage Story About Ivermectin Overdoses in Oklahoma
Ivermectin tablets arranged in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Americans against taking ivermectin, a drug usually used on animals, as a treatment or prevention for Covid-19.
Dimas Ardian/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Media outlets rushed to share a story claiming so many people in Oklahoma were overdosing on the veterinary version of Ivermectin that hospitals’ emergency rooms were overwhelmed. That story, predictably, turned out to be false, but the media is still desperately clinging to that narrative.

Rolling Stone has added a second update to its original story, which was based on an interview with a single emergency room doctor in Oklahoma. The headline for the story has now changed, though the magazine attempts to salvage its original story by emphasizing that only one hospital has disputed the original story. The new update on the Rolling Stone story notes that the magazine “has been unable to independently verify any such cases as of the time of this update.” One has to wonder why the outlet, given its history with publishing false stories, didn’t independently verify the information in its article before it published it in the first place.

CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale also somewhat attempted to defend media reporting on the Oklahoma story, writing on Twitter that only one hospital denied the doctor’s claims but that another said it had seen patients “with ivermectin issues,” though that turned out to be just a handful of patients.

“That hospital is only one of the ones this doctor is affiliated with, so its word was not actually definitive proof that the doctor was making the whole thing up. We now know at least one other hospital the doctor works with has indeed seen patients with ivermectin issues,” Dale tweeted.

Dale did provide some interesting information, however, noting that the interview with the doctor interviewed by local outlet KFOR, Dr. Jason McElyea, doesn’t make it clear that he was specifically blaming Ivermectin for backed up emergency rooms.

“I’ll note that the local outlet is standing by its story and released more footage from its interview with the doctor. Because it edited out the questions, though, it’s still not clear how much the doctor was attributing the congestion to ivermectin,” Dale wrote.

Dale later shared a statement from another hospital where McElyea has worked, which said it had seen “a handful of ivermectin patients in our emergency room,” though it added that “our hospitals are not filled with people who have taken ivermectin,” but said those patients “are adding to the congestion already caused by COVID-19 and other emergencies.”

A handful of patients does not warrant the blaring headlines from outlets like Rolling Stone. The hospital also didn’t say the Ivermectin patients had taken the veterinary version of the drug.

For his part, McElyea says his comments were taken out of context. It appears he may have mentioned Ivermectin as one reason why hospital emergency rooms are congested but did not make it the sole issue, nor did he insist that Ivermectin was the reason ambulances were backed up or gunshot victims had to wait to be seen.

Rachel Maddow was another media figure who uncritically shared the original story. Her tweet is still up, without any accompanying note from Twitter about misinformation. After intense backlash, it appears Maddow finally on Tuesday added a clarifying tweet about how two hospitals have spoken up about the story — one saying it had not seen Ivermectin overdose patients and one saying they had a few patients. She then included a link to an FDA page warning against using veterinary Ivermectin to treat COVID-19.

Of course, had Maddow been a conservative, her tweet would have been flagged for misinformation and she probably would have had her count suspended until she removed the offending tweet.

The media also continues to insist that Ivermectin is only a veterinary drug, when it has uses for humans as well — obviously at different dosages.

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