SALLISAW, Okla. — “Gunshot victims left waiting as horse dewormer overdoses overwhelm Oklahoma hospitals, doctor says”, read the feverish declaration headlining an article on Rolling Stone‘s Twitter timeline.
Ivermectin, a drug typically used for parasitic infections, has found itself at the center of controversy after some vaccine skeptics floated the idea of its use as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
Posted Friday to the magazine’s site, the piece, titled “Patients overdosing on ivermectin backing up rural Oklahoma hospitals, ambulances”, focused primarily on anecdotes provided by Dr. Jason McElyea.
McElyea told KFOR (the local station from which Rolling Stone sourced the piece) that “the ERs are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated” and “ambulances are stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to open so they can take the patient in and they don’t have any, that’s it… if there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call.”
There’s just one problem here: the story appears to have been completely false.
Rolling Stone revised the piece, adding in details effectively discredit the entire story: McElyea was never directly employed by any hospital — instead, he was simply employed by a medical staffing group serving multiple hospitals, one of which issued a statement claiming McElyea hasn’t worked for them in over two months, and that the hospital has never treated a single ivermectin overdose.
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) September 5, 2021
Throughout the interview, McElyea failed to procure a shred of evidence to support any of the vivid claims he was making. Apparently, Rolling Stone feels as though an appeal to authority and confirmation bias alone should lead us to believe whatever they tell us to.
After all, he’s a doctor, and we’re just a bunch of science-denying troglodytes overdosing on horse dewormer.
This narrative is hardly new — which is why it was so convenient for Rolling Stone to take it and run with it.
Leftists in the media spent the second half of last year fabricating out of whole cloth stories about then-president Donald Trump telling people to drink bleach and fish tank cleaner to treat COVID. Naturally, us backwoods simpletons who voted for him were expected to start doing so in droves.
Listening to the way this was played up, you’d have thought Middle America was effectively destined to become some sort of weird, Trumpian Jonestown. Of course, that was little more than derogatory claptrap.
Many in the media are correct in their dissuasion of ivermectin’s use to treat COVID, which is discouraged by the FDA and American Medical Association, and can be extremely dangerous in large doses. However, blatantly making things up to characterize anyone with whom you disagree as a dumb redneck is far from how the issue (which is currently relatively miniscule) should be handled.
There’s a general rule of journalism that I’ve always sworn to myself I’d abide by — if I find a story that seems so tailored to suit a particular narrative that it almost feels fabricated, it likely is.
This piece, of course, is no exception to that rule.
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