How I Got Fox News To Correct Laura Ingraham And Twitter To Remove Her Tweet
Laura Ingraham hosted Dr. William Grace on Friday, March 20. She said he was, “at Lenox Hill Hospital.” The segment was aimed at attacking CNN, which had criticized Trump for instilling “false hope” about anti-malaria drugs to treat COVID19.
Ingraham and Dr. Grace praised President Trump for touting hydroxychloroquine. Ingraham asked Dr. Grace, “Is it just false hope, or do we have at least examples in our country right now of this working, including in YOUR HOSPITAL?”
Dr. Grace responded, touting the success of the drug, citing a variety of data — but he did not address Ingraham’s reference to “your hospital.”
Ingraham repeatedly crowed about the doctor’s credentials and what he said were his findings on the drug’s efficacy at Lenox Hill Hospital. Turns out, he doesn’t even work there.
The chyron also labeled Dr. Grace as a Lenox Hill Oncologist.
I looked at Dr. Grace’s resume on his website of his private oncology practice. There was no mention of Lenox Hill Hospital.
On Saturday morning, I called a spokesperson at Northwell Health, the parent organization of Lenox Hill Hospital. I asked if Dr. Grace was from Lenox Hill Hospital, as Ingraham had claimed. The spokesperson emailed me this statement later that day:
“He is not employed by Lenox Hill Hospital or Northwell. He is a private physician who has admitting privileges. His views are his own and do not represent those of our organization.”
On Sunday, I emailed Fox News, requesting a correction, with a promise to update my Twitter thread.
I didn’t hear back from anyone at Fox. But soon after I emailed them, I noticed an editor’s note on the Fox News story. Fox News had issued a rare correction, saying: “Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Dr. William Grace’s relationship to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Dr. Grace is not employed by the hospital and his opinions given below are his own.”
Fox News had reported on Ingraham’s interview with headline: “Malaria drugs touted by Trump can work against coronavirus, top doc tells Laura Ingraham.” The photo caption said:
“CNN is accusing Trump of peddling ‘false hope’ with chloroquine; reaction from Dr. William Grace, oncologist at Lenox Hill hospital in New York City.”
I emailed news of the Fox correction to a bunch of reporters. One of them, Jesselyn Cook at HuffPost tweeted this:
This is false — the man who told @IngrahamAngle that he’d been prescribing hydroxychloroquine to patients at Lenox Hill Hospital doesn’t even work there.
— Jesselyn Cook (@JessReports) March 25, 2020
Meanwhile, disinformation citing Laura Ingraham’s false attribution to Lenox Hill Hospital was spreading. Smaller news sites and social media were spreading the viral false information. Ingraham’s false claim reached the halls of legislation.Looking to make a difference? Consider signing one of these sponsored petitions:
Sen. Joe Pennacchio, a state senator from New Jersey, commended Trump for his “true leadership” in advocating for use of chloroquine to treat infected patients.
In a statement, Sen. Pennacchio cited “Dr. William Grace, a top oncologist at Lenox Hill Hospital” — which he isn’t.
Sen. Joe Pennacchio, state senator from New Jersey, commended Trump for his “true leadership” in advocating for use of chloroquine to treat infected patients.
— Nancy Levine 🌊Vote.org (@nancylevine) March 22, 2020
I called Sen. Pennacchio’s office on Monday morning, March 23. I left a voicemail, telling him that Fox News had corrected its story. I asked if the senator would likewise be correcting his false attribution to Lenox Hill. I did not receive a response to my call that day.
On Tuesday, March 24, I tweeted a screenshot of Laura Ingraham’s tweet. I tagged Twitter’s policy heads who had vowed to combat disinformation on the platform about coronavirus.
Fox News issued a correction. Laura Ingraham’s guest, Dr. William Grace, was not from Lenox Hill Hospital, as Ingraham claimed he was. Will Twitter remove Ingraham’s tweet? Twitter committed to fighting #disinformation about #coronavirus. @vijaya @yoyoel @policy pic.twitter.com/HtV7BpOGFB
— Nancy Levine 🌊Vote.org (@nancylevine) March 24, 2020
Meanwhile, news — real or not — about the hydroxychloroquine ‘cure’ spread like wildfire after Trump touted it. Reports of hoarding the drug surfaced. Lupus patients who have relied on the drug for decades were unable to fill their prescriptions. Most notably, dangers of hydroxychloroquine were underscored by illness and death of a man who tried to self-administer.
In a press conference, Trump falsely said the FDA had approved hydroxychloroquine; it had not yet done so. Trump surrogates were ignited to spread the word. Fox News hosts touted the drug. Rudy Giuliani. Trump tweeted about it, citing a French study.
But respected scientists called the French study a “terrible terrible study” and noted, “that didn’t stop America’s Quack Dr. Oz and other grifters from touting Raoult’s study, as well as a handful of ‘miracle cure’ testimonials, to promote the treatment as a cure and attack the FDA.”
Regardless, pressure mounted on the FDA to approve the drug. They did so on Sunday. The FDA caved to pressure and approved use of hydroxychloroquine on Sunday afternoon, March 29. Later that evening, the
FDA former Acting Chief Scientist tweeted:
I would like to see who @FDA_MCMi signed off on this EUA despite the total lack of scientific evidence that chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine are beneficial in the treatment of COVID-19. EUA is supposed to be issued when the evidence indicates that benefits outweigh the risks. https://t.co/utK0FF114s
— Luciana Borio, MD (@llborio) March 30, 2020
On March 20, the same day that Ingraham interviewed Dr. Grace, a doctor who is actually on-staff at Lenox Hill Hospital told WBUR Here and Now host Robin Young that he had NOT used chloroquine with his COVID19 patients and was waiting for trial results. Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonologist at Lenox Hill agreed that it could potentially be a safe and useful treatment. Just not yet.
All the while, Ingraham’s false attribution to Lenox Hill Hospital continued to spread. I kept emailing journalists who hold the powerful accountable. One of them, Justin Baragona at the Daily Beast responded. He told me he was following up on Laura Ingraham and her segment about Dr. Grace and Lenox Hill Hospital. I told Justin everything I knew.
On Monday morning, March 30, The Daily Beast reported that Twitter had removed Ingraham’s ‘misleading’ tweet.
Today, I spoke with a representative from Sen. Pennacchio’s office. I told his rep that Fox News had corrected its story and that Twitter had removed Ingraham’s tweet. Sen. Pennacchio’s spokesperson told me that the senator’s office had corrected his statement on their website last week. The statement does not appear to be corrected today.
Disinformation is dangerous, potentially lethal. It’s on all of us to counter lies, mistruths, misleading statements at every turn. All truthtelling matters. All voices matter. Let’s make the truth go viral.