Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple blasted CNN in an op-ed Thursday, not only over the cable network's coverage of Joe Rogan's bout with COVID-19, during which the podcaster took medically prescribed ivermectin to treat the infection — but also over CNN's defense of its reporting.
What are the details?
Given that multiple CNN on-air personalities repeatedly declared that Rogan was taking "horse dewormer" rather than the human dose of ivermectin, Wemple said that "the network's coverage was slanted in some cases and straight-up incorrect in others."
Indeed, Wemple cited Scott Phillips of the Washington Poison Center in Seattle, who told the media critic that "if you're prescribed the FDA human version [of ivermectin] then you're not taking a horse pill."
What's more, after Rogan told CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta that CNN "out and out lied" about his ivermectin use, Gupta admitted to Rogan that CNN "shouldn't have said" the podcaster was taking "horse dewormer":
With all those hard facts at his disposal, Wemple asked CNN for an explanation — and here's the statement the media critic said the cable network sent him:
The heart of this debate has been purposely confused and ultimately lost. It's never been about livestock versus human dosage of Ivermectin. The issue is that a powerful voice in the media, who by example and through his platform, sowed doubt in the proven and approved science of vaccines while promoting the use of an unproven treatment for covid-19 — a drug developed to ward off parasites in farm animals. The only thing CNN did wrong here was bruise the ego of a popular podcaster who pushed dangerous conspiracy theories and risked the lives of millions of people in doing so.
'More like the work of an advocacy group'
While Wemple gave CNN points for some aspects of its statement, he ultimately took the the cable network to task for its response, saying it "sounds more like the work of an advocacy group than a journalism outfit."
Wemple added in his final paragraph that "you don't have to endorse Rogan to abhor CNN's coverage of this topic. Here's a network, after all, that prides itself on impeccable factual hygiene, a place where there's no conceptual hair too fine to split, no political statement too sprawling to flyspeck. It's tough living by your own standards."
This wasn't the first time Wemple took CNN or other left-leaning news outlets to task. In March he appeared on the cable network's "Reliable Sources" program and appeared to shock far-left host Brian Stelter by ripping the "love-a-thons" between then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo.
And in late 2019, Wemple blasted MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for "misleading and dishonest" coverage of Russia and the Steele dossier.
What's the background?
After Rogan announced last month that he caught COVID-19, CNN's Anderson Cooper said — above a headline reading, "Joe Rogan announces he has COVID; praises horse dewormer ivermectin" — the drug is "more often used to deworm horses."
CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter joined in: "But when you have a horse deworming medication that's discouraged by the government that actually causes some people in this crazed environment we're in to actually want to try it, that's the upside-down world we're in with figures like Joe Rogan."
At least the physician on the panel, Dr. Leana Wen, admitted that ivermectin can be prescribed for humans — but again, no clarifying words from her that Rogan received the medication properly.
Joe Rogan says he tested positive for Covid-19youtu.be
Wemple noted that CNN anchor Jim Acosta a few days later played video of Rogan's COVID infection disclosure and added, "In case you missed it, Rogan said ivermectin. Yes, that's the deworming medicine made to kill parasites in farm animals and, weirdly, is being promoted by right-wing media figures and even some politicians as a COVID treatment."
Rogan was not happy and floated the idea of a lawsuit, saying CNN is "making s**t up."
And even after Gupta's admission that his own network shouldn't have said Rogan was taking "horse dewormer," Gupta later that day appeared on Don Lemon's CNN show to talk about his interview with Rogan — and they completely glossed over and spun Rogan's issues with CNN's coverage of the podcaster's COVID-19 treatments:
Even CNN contributor Mary Katharine Ham ripped her cable network's coverage of the Joe Rogan-ivermectin controversy, saying CNN engaged in "dishonest" and "bulls**t" reporting.