Despite the protestations of the White House Press Secretary and Breitbart — which are not, in fact, the same entity — the 45th President of the United State of America did indeed suggest that people should pump themselves full of toxic disinfectant chemicals and "UV light" to fight off coronavirus. And once again, The Onion proved itself to be not a satire site, but rather, a prophet of the apocalypse.
That was Thursday evening. By Friday afternoon, Trump insisted that his public declaration in the middle of an official government press conference was obviously meant to be sarcastic:
TRUMP TO REPORTER: "You know the way it was asked — I was looking at you!"
REPORTER: "Sir, I wasn't here yesterday" https://t.co/sJ8wT1pOUs
— Joshua Green (@JoshuaGreen) April 24, 2020
Even if this were true — which is clearly, embarrassingly not — it would still not make for good optics if the leader of a country where 50,000 people had died from COVID-19 in just over a month was making jokes about it, especially after he had already touted another false cure that ended up killing a group of military veterans.
As The Guardian reports, Trump had actually received a message earlier this week from the leader of a religious group that worships cleansing the human body with poisonous chemicals like bleach:
[Mark] Grenon styles himself as "archbishop" of Genesis II – a Florida-based outfit that claims to be a church but which in fact is the largest producer and distributor of chlorine dioxide bleach as a "miracle cure" in the US. He brands the chemical as MMS, "miracle mineral solution", and claims fraudulently that it can cure 99% of all illnesses including cancer, malaria, HIV/Aids as well as autism.
Since the start of the pandemic, Genesis II has been marketing MMS as a cure to coronavirus. It advises users, including children, to mix three to six drops of bleach in water and drink it.
To be clear, that is neither a passage from a Warren Ellis book, nor a deliberate homage to the nuclear bomb-worshipping cultists in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. That is an accurate description of a very real group that reached out to the President of the United States in this reality.
Revealed: leader of group peddling bleach as coronavirus 'cure' wrote to Trump this week [Ed Pilkington / The Guardian]
Image: Fred Sharples / Flickr (CC 2.0)