Dishonest "Journalism"
By John D. Turner
5 October 2020

As the entire country knows, President Trump recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is currently in the hospital under observation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A good chunk of the country has been praying for his speedy recovery, while another good chunk has been dancing in the streets and wishing for his speedy demise; thus it has been in politics in America since 8 November 2016.

The airwaves, newspapers, magazines, blogosphere, social media, and internet have been filled with a plethora of stories since he announced via Tweet that he had tested positive, ranging from “Trump is dying” to “Trump is faking” and everything in between. My favorite “Trump is faking” theory is that he is afraid to face Joe Biden in the next debate and so concocted the “I tested positive” story to get out of doing so.

Considering the number of people that would have to be “in” on such a conspiracy, and the amount of leakage Trump has “enjoyed” during his presidency, does anyone seriously believe he could actually pull that off?

“News” stories in the mainstream press have been rife with “information” gathered from “anonymous sources.” No one appears to want to go on the record with their “facts”, no doubt because Trump is a neofascist dictator who will likely “disappear” them and their families if their identity is known. People who think this way need to get out more – preferably to a real authoritarian dictatorship where they can see what living in one is really like.

Or perhaps they are concerned that if they identify themselves, Trump will have some means of retaliating against them and or their loved ones. They might lose their job, get “blacklisted”, or have some other awful event befall them.

Like folks on the right, or anyone really, who say something that the “cancel culture” doesn’t like.

Then again, it could be that the “anonymous source” doesn’t really exist at all; that it is simply made up out of whole cloth by the writer or the editor. Who can say? The “source” is anonymous; unknown, after all.

At the end of 2006 I wrote an article titled “The Importance of Truth: Information Warfare as the Ultimate Weapon.” In that article, I wrote:

What if all information sources could no longer be trusted? What would you do? How would that affect the nation? Could a nation, dependent on information flows, survive if those information flows were no longer reliable?

We are living in a time when indeed, those information sources are difficult to trust. We laugh at countries like the DPRK (North Korea), where “elections” consist of a single person receiving over 90% of the vote. What a farce, we say.

And yet, we now live in a country where articles in the mainstream press are over 90% negative with regard to our current president, and have been since he was elected in 2016. Is this any more believable? Is this person so evil and so heinous that there is nothing he does that is good?

If news organizations are over 90% negative with regard to President Trump, isn’t it reasonable to ask ourselves if what we are reading is really news? Or is it really opinion? And if the latter, why am I wasting my time with it? I read news in order to form my own opinion. I don’t need someone else’s opinion, masquerading as news, to tell me what, according to them, I should be thinking.

Which brings me to this article in CNN Business “news” that I ran across today. “Trump has ties to drugmaker Regeneron – and now its stock is surging.” Oh no! What nefarious thing has Trump perpetuated on us today? The article goes on to state:

“President Trump received a high dose of an experimental antibody cocktail from Regeneron as part of his Covid-19 treatment. Now the drugmaker's stock is up sharply -- and questions are swirling about the president's ties to Regeneron's billionaire CEO.”

So, what “ties” does the CEO have to Trump? How did this potentially affect the choice of drug given to the President? Have these ties led to this individual benefiting “unfairly” due to his association with the President? These and other questions “swirling” about will no-doubt be answered in this penetrating analysis behind the scenes by the fearless reporter from CNN Business news.

Well, because this particular drug, REGN-COV2, or as the article puts it, “experimental antibody cocktail” was prescribed to Trump by his doctors, and it appears to have worked (Trump is being released from Walter Reed today so he can go back to the White House to convalesce), the stock price of the company that makes the drug, Regeneron, has “surged” by 7%.

This should be a surprise to absolutely no one, particularly a reporter who covers business news. In general, when there is good news surrounding a company or product (and a successful COVID treatment would certainly be “good news”), the stock of that company, if publicly traded, tends to go up. Stocks tend to go up on good news, and down on bad news. That is the nature of stocks.

So, it seems that one of the “ties” the CEO of Regeneron, Dr. Leonard Schleifer, has to Trump is apparently that the drug his company makes may have been successful in his treatment. Because of that, the stock price went up. Therefore, the company benefited directly due to Trump, and by extension, Trump has unfairly affected the stock price of that company vis-à-vis the stock prices of all the other companies who are also attempting to make drugs to fight COVID-19.

Even worse, according to CNN Business, "Regeneron CEO Dr. Leonard Schleifer and President Trump are acquainted: The CEO has been a member at Trump's golf club in Westchester, New York, and his company also received $450 million in government funding in July as part of the president's Operation Warp Speed plan to quickly develop a vaccine and other treatments for Covid-19."

Let's take these items one at a time, shall we?

Trump currently owns 17 golf courses. Does this reporter seriously mean to imply that anyone belonging to any of these golf clubs or anyone who has ever golfed at one is now an “acquaintance” of President Trump?

President Trump has no-doubt spoken with many companies and CEOs of companies regarding “Operation Warp Speed,” the plan to ramp up discovery and production of drugs to aid in the fight against COVID-19. Are these all now “acquaintances” of President Trump? All companies under Operation Warp Speed received funding from the federal government to develop their drugs. If their drugs prove to work, and their stock prices go up, is this a nefarious plot on the part of President Trump? Will they have “unfairly benefited” from “ties” to the president?

Are there other CEOs of companies who have received government money, for any reason, not just COVID-19 research, who have golfed at a Trump golf course, stayed at a Trump property of any sort, ever in their lives spoken with Donald Trump or one of his children, and ever had any product or service of theirs in some way impact the life of President Donald Trump? If so, shouldn’t we write articles about them, suggest that they too are involved in some unseemly plot, or have benefited in some way by their association with President Trump and therefore should have “questions swirling” about their “ties” to the President that need to be investigated as well?

Ah, but according to CNN, the rot goes deeper than that. In 2017, President Trump owned shares in Regeneron, although the article doesn’t say how many or how they were held, and the article does say he doesn't actually own any shares of Regeneron now. But still. He owned them. Once upon a time.

He also owned shares in the company that makes Remdesivir, another “experimental antiviral” drug, used in his treatment, that up until now has been the media approved method of treating COVID-19. I guess now that Trump has used it, Remdesivir, like Hydroxychloroquine before it, will have to join the ranks of “Trump approved” drugs on the ash heap of history that we are no longer allowed to use.

These are the questions “swirling” around Dr. Schleifer, CEO of Regeneron, regarding his “good fortune” to have developed a drug that was used in the treatment of the President of the United States against a pandemic disease that he contracted.

I guess that in the USA today, the only way you can legitimately accept money from the federal government to develop a drug to fight COVID-19 is if you do not personally know President Trump, have never spoken with him, have never had your picture taken with him, and most definitely, have never played golf at one of his golf courses. Ever. It would probably be best if you have never even heard of Trump, but that may be difficult to pull off. Because the CEO of Regeneron has been a member of Trump's golf club (as are probably many other people), I guess he should not have accepted any money from the federal government to develop a cure for COVID-19, even though he runs a drug company and other drug companies are part of the fight. He should have stoically gone it alone. Indeed, doctors should have been mindful of Trump's "ties" to that company, and not even prescribed that medication to Trump, lest the company profit unfairly from their "ties" to the president.

Maybe they should have selected the drugs used to treat him using a lottery, so that the choice would be “fair.”

Speaking of profiting unfairly due to association with a political figure, one wonders if Hunter Biden profited "unfairly" from his ties to his dad when his dad was Vice President, then? Nah. Joe Biden told us during the debates that was "debunked", "discredited", and "untrue"; any “wondering” on that front is clearly in "conspiracy theory" territory and will undoubtedly get you kicked off social media platforms, such as YouTube, which prides itself as being the free speech protector “fact checker” of the people of the United States.

Clearly, Regeneron needs to cease work on this drug at once, return the $450 million in ill-gotten gains it received from the White House, apologize to the American People for being racist, and donate all the proceeds it may have made from this drug thus far to Black Lives Matter; the CEO should step down, and be replaced by a trans woman of color selected at random from the population at large.

Interestingly enough, the CEO apparently donated primarily to Democratic candidates and PACs in 2016 and 2018. Not that this should shield him from his attempt at personal gain by voluntarily administering an experimental drug, not yet approved by the FDA, to the president in order to line his own pockets. When he found out that his drug was going to be given to President Trump, he should instead have immediately called Walter Reed, informed them that he was a member of one of President Trump’s golf clubs, and recused his drug from consideration as a treatment.

As for Walter Reed, the president should have received the same level of care that any street person would have received upon being admitted to the emergency room. This is clearly not what happened. Indeed, he should have probably been treated with bleach and fish-bowl cleaner, since the press has often stated that President Trump seems to think these effective in the treatment of COVID-19.

This article is clearly written with the intent to make the reader think something that is patently not true; to wit, that there is something nefarious and corrupt going on in conjunction with the President’s treatment for COVID-19. Because when it comes to President Trump and the mainstream press, with 95% negative reporting only weeks before the election, everything about President Trump has to have a negative, nefarious and corrupt angle to it.

The hope is obviously that the reader will only skim the headline and come away with the impression the writer clearly intended to impart; something that is at odds with the facts of what actually happened; that the President got sick and was treated with a drug that is currently in trials and not yet FDA approved. This is in keeping with the "right to try" legislation President Trump signed into law earlier in his term, and with legislation and EOs passed during the course of this pandemic.

As one reads through the article this becomes clear. However, the writer also is banking on the tendency of busy people to not completely read an article all the way through, and so he front-loads the article with language and opinions to "nudge" the reader towards the conclusion that he so dramatically presented in the title. It couldn’t simply be that the drugs prescribed were the ones that his medical team, in their medical wisdom, deemed best and most appropriate to use in the treatment of the President of the United States. No, there has to be a nefarious corruption angle. There has to be a conspiracy. There has to be a political scheme. Someone has to have benefited unfairly and be thrown to the dogs. There must be fresh meat for the masses.

With any other president, news article would have simply noted that shares of Regeneron rose on news of it’s successful use in treatment of the President of the United States from COVID-19. It would probably have noted its experimental status as one of may drugs undergoing testing, and that despite its use here, it has not yet been approved by the FDA for use by the general public. This would have been followed by the last seven paragraphs of the article which can objectively be considered actual news regarding the drug and the decision to use it on the president.

But this is an article concerning President Donald Trump, less than a month before the election, by a press that demonstrably hates his guts and is rooting for his opponent. Who expects responsible journalism concerning President Donald Trump by CNN under these circumstances?

Or any other circumstances, really?