Attorney General Bill Barr derided what he described as the White House press corps' "jihad" against the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, Donald Trump has been pushing to help fight symptoms of the coronavirus.
"The politicisation of decisions like hydroxychloroquine has been amazing to me," Mr Barr said in an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham Wednesday. "Before the president said anything about it, there was fair and balanced coverage of this very promising drug, and the fact that it had such a long track record, that the risks were pretty well known, and as soon as he said something positive about it, the media’s been on a jihad to discredit the drug — it’s quite strange."
Only preliminary research supports the theory that hydroxychloroquine helps mitigate the heatlh risks of Covid-19, and multiple health experts, including the president's own pandemic guru Dr Anthony Fauci, have said there is only anecdotal evidence, so far, that the drug is effective.
The website for the Centers for Disease Control describes the hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as "oral prescription drugs that have been used for treatment of malaria and certain inflammatory conditions." The drugs are "under investigation in clinical trials for pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and treatment of patients with mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19," according to the website.
Mr Trump has conducted daily press briefings on the federal government's response to the coronavirus for weeks now.
Mr Barr criticised the media for trying to corner the president with "snarky gotcha questions" instead of trying to glean substantive information from him.
"The stridency of the partisan attacks on [Trump have] gotten higher and higher," Mr Barr said. "The politicization of decisions like hydroxychloroquine, it’s been amazing to me," he said.
Mr Barr's Fox News interview covered a range of issues, including his view that China is the biggest security threat to the US, not Russia.
Mr Trump and his Republican allies in Congress have taken an aggressive line against China and the World Health Organization, which they accuse of providing cover for the Chinese government as it lied about its infection and death tallies during the initial coronavirus outbreak.
"In my opinion, it's China," Mr Barr told Ms Ingraham, when asked whether China or Russia posed a larger national security threat. "Not just to the election process, but, I think, across the board. ... There's simply no comparison. ... China is a very serious threat to the United States — geopolitically, economically, militarily — and a threat to the integrity of our institutions, given their ability to influence things," Mr Barr said.
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