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Why Is The Right So Obsessed With Hydroxychloroquine?

This is a preview of Right Richter, our newsletter about the extreme right wing. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox, sign up for it here. 

This week: 

  • Why Trump supporters are so crazy for hydroxychloroquine
  • Leading libel attorney posts QAnon hashtag, explains himself 
  • Sebastian Gorka talks some trash

The Political Point of Hydroxychloroquine

The Trump administration’s quest for the supposed hydroxychloroquine miracle cure hit another speed bump last week. 

Initially, a group of doctors organized by the Tea Party Patriots scored a viral hit Monday with a press conference outside the Supreme Court lambasting conventional wisdom on the coronavirus and praising the unproven drug. Video of Texas Dr. Stella Immanuel praising hydroxychloroquine and bashing mask-wearing earned presidential retweets and more than 13 million views on Facebook before it was taken off the platform.

But Immanuel’s usefulness as the face of hydroxychloroquine faded after Right Richter pointed out that she also believes, among other things, that real-life medical problems are caused by sex with demons and that alien DNA can be used in medical treatments. 

Other doctors at the press conference had plenty of issues themselves. One, for example, produced a comically flawed study on the coronavirus’ prevalence in California. Nevertheless, Trump wouldn’t back down in his crusade to give them a platform, calling Immanuel an “important voice” on the virus response.

Why the fixation on hydroxychloroquine at all costs?

For the vast majority of Trump supporters, of course, the drug represents the possibility that COVID-19 can be successfully treated and the deaths stopped. But there’s also a political benefit: portraying hydroxychloroquine as a forbidden cure allows pro-Trump media to blame anyone but Trump for the coronavirus disaster. In this telling, COVID-19 could have been cured months ago with hydroxychloroquine, if only the Democrats, the media, and Dr. Anthony Fauci would have listened to Trump! 

Mega-popular right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, for example, has portrayed the opposition to hydroxychloroquine as an anti-Trump plot. 

“We’ve got people in this country doing their level best to destroy it, to scare people into not using it,” Limbaugh said on Monday.

This angle became a little clearer Thursday, when Herman Cain died of COVID-19 a month after he attended Trump’s maskless Tulsa rally. Cain’s death, in theory, should have brought home the coronavirus’ seriousness to the hardcore Trump faithful who have refused to wear masks. 

Instead, The Gateway Pundit knew who was to blame: Anthony Fauci, for opposing hydroxychloroquine!

“Is Dr. Fauci to Blame for Herman Cain’s Death?” the far-right website asked. 

“Herman Cain’s death is tragic,” Gateway Pundit boss Jim Hoft wrote. “It is too early to know what happened with his treatment. But it is clear that Dr. Fauci, the tech giants, and the liberal media are to blame for THOUSANDS of coronavirus deaths.”

As the death toll continues to mount, hydroxychloroquine’s value as a distraction from the administration’s own failures will likely only increase.

Big-Time Lawyer Says He’s Not Into QAnon — But He’ll Keep the Hashtag

Famed libel lawyer Lin Wood recently added QAnon hashtag #WWG1WGA to his Twitter bio, raising the possibility that one of the country’s most famous attorneys had become red-pilled on the ever-growing conspiracy theory. 

I had to know: is Lin Wood a QAnon guy now? 

Wood, who rose to fame representing wrongly accused Atlanta Olympics bombing suspect Richard Jewell and recently represented Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann in now-settled lawsuits against CNN and the Washington Post, says the QAnon hashtag in his bio doesn’t mean he’s a QAnon guy. 

“I’ve had people reference QAnon,” Wood said. “I’m not sure exactly what QAnon is.”

Instead, Wood says he’s just a big-time supporter of Gen. Michael Flynn. Flynn nodded towards his QAnon fans on July 4 when he filmed himself and his family taking the “QAnon oath” and finishing by saying “Where we go one, we go all.” 

Wood watched the video and decided he liked the sound of that, he said. Wood also likes that the phrase reportedly appeared on the bell of a yacht owned by John F. Kennedy.   

“I saw a video where they took that oath: ‘Where we go one, we go all,’” Wood said. “That’s why I put it up on my Twitter page.”

Wood said he’s not a QAnon believer, Twitter symbolism aside. 

“I have some theories about the events of the present time, but I’m not a formal member of any type of group,” Wood said. 

You can see Wood’s use of QAnon symbolism without apparently signing on for the whole arrest-the-cannibal-Democrats mythos that make up QAnon’s actual belief system as good news, or you can see it as bad news. On one hand, maybe QAnon is getting so diluted down that people are signing on without knowing what it’s about. On the other, maybe people like Wood are accidentally legitimizing it—and helping QAnon seep further into all our lives!

If it’s any indication, Wood said he hasn’t even seen any of the “clues” that make up the basis of QAnon. 

“I’ve never looked at a clue from QAnon, and I take my clues from Jesus Christ,” Wood said.  

How the Gorka Sausage Gets Made

Like his old boss, former Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka prides himself on his putdowns.

No story about Gorka is complete without him telling someone to lick a lamp pole in freezing temperatures, get a real job, or, when words fail Gorka, just shoving them. But I recently discovered that Gorka puts a lot of effort into his rude persona—maybe too much.

On Wednesday, Gorka claimed on his radio show that a man at a 7-Eleven had threatened to shoot him if he didn’t put a mask on. Gorka’s would-be assailant had only fled after Gorka talked tough to him and pulled out his cellphone, later reporting the incident to police. 

Surely, I figured, Gorka would want to get the word out about gun-waving mask maniacs. And what a coincidence that a violent incident that hits the center of the national zeitgeist and confirms Gorka’s audience’s politics happened to a nationally syndicated radio host!

When I asked Gorka for more info so I could get a copy of the police incident report about the threat, he wasn’t thrilled. 

“Will your’e (sic) a sad little snowflake,” Gorka wrote back in an email. “Go give some gratification to one of your Democrat masters.” 

That’s about what I expected, even if the brush-off was a little unimaginative for roastmaster general Gorka. But then things took a turn. 

Gorka, who blocked my phone number years ago, called me from another number an hour later to berate me a bit more.

“I’ve got a little quote for you, you sad pathetic little snowflake,” Gorka said, telling me to get a pencil to get his quote down.

“Go and stick your head in a bucket of eels,” Gorka said.

I asked Gorka to repeat himself, just for fun. 

“Stick your head in a bucket of eels,” he said again.

Then he hung up, right as I asked him why he couldn’t offer any proof the 7-Eleven incident actually happened.

At the time, I figured Gorka just felt bad that his first insult wasn’t that clever, stewed over it for a bit, then called to make sure I got his sharper one. But it turns out that Gorka was prank-calling me for his radio show, in a sort of MAGA Crank Yankers. Later that day, a satisfied Gorka played the clip for his audience, the vast majority of whom must have been completely baffled. 

What does this bizarre episode say? For one, it’s probably a sign Gorka has a little too much time on his hands. But more broadly, it suggests a kind of touchiness in Trumpworld, as  it’s hard to imagine Gorka taking time to prank call me back when the president and his coterie were ascendant, for example. 

As for the famous 7-Eleven showdown, Gorka still hasn’t offered proof it actually happened. If you witnessed an unflappable, unmasked Sebastian Gorka stare down a crazed pro-mask vigilante at a convenience store, let me know on Twitter at @willsommer! 

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