Here's why people stick with Trump and Fox News — even when their lies kill
Why are Trump supporters so devoted? The simple answer is that they are members of a death cult. Call it the #TrumpDeathCult. Beyond that simple answer, there’s this: When your identity rests on Trump and his party being right, to admit that they are wrong—or worse, that they don't even give a rat's ass about you and yours—requires rethinking everything you are. I guess for some people, dying is easier.
Donald Trump and his state propaganda sycophants over at Fox News hyped hydroxychloroquine as a "game changer,” until it was game over. We learned this week that taking the drug not only doesn’t help people recover from COVID-19, it makes it more likely that they will drop dead. Why doesn’t this make hordes of Republican voters say, “What in the world am I doing listening to these shameless liars?” The fact that they don’t is what makes them dangerous.
But wait, there’s more.
If this news, reported by The New York Times, doesn’t make a person run screaming from the land of Trump, Fox News, and bald-faced lies back to the world of facts and science, then I don’t know what will.
The official who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration had put “politics and cronyism ahead of science.”
In a scorching statement, Dr. Bright, who received a Ph.D. in immunology and molecular pathogenesis from Emory University, assailed the leadership at the health department, saying he was pressured to direct money toward hydroxychloroquine, one of several “potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections” and repeatedly described by the president as a potential “game changer” in the fight against the virus.
“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” he said in his statement. “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.”
Folks, we are living in 1984, and we have been for some time now. To paraphrase George Orwell: Hydroxychloroquine is a game changer. Hydroxychloroquine has always been a game changer. We will not speak of hydroxychloroquine. We have never spoken of hydroxychloroquine.
And yet I still can’t believe these people don’t stand up and reject their right-wing masters. I’m like Charlie Brown, who thinks that this time—despite it never having happened before—Lucy will let me kick that ever-loving football. “What’s wrong with these conservatives?” I scream in my head. Don’t they care about themselves? About their own friends and families? Do the Fox News viewers even notice that suddenly no one is talking about hydroxychloroquine anymore, after it was hyped for weeks? Don’t they care?
Of course, this is even bigger than just hydroxychloroquine. Even though they had been warned—and thus knew better—Trump, Republicans, and Fox News have been lying about the severity of the coronavirus since the start. Then, once the bodies started piling up, they began lying about the fact that they had lied.
Sadly, the answer appears to be yes.
Ian Reifowitz is the author of The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas).