Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
This guide will be continuously updated. If you spot a coronavirus-related health scam or grift, please feel free to email Media Matters.
Numerous media figures and outlets, especially in the right-wing media, have been profiteering off of the coronavirus pandemic by promoting health grifts and scams, including supposed coronavirus treatments, preventatives, and cures.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that "there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus."
Colloidal silver is among the most commonly touted fake coronavirus cures and treatments. The National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health explains that "colloidal silver consists of tiny silver particles in a liquid that is sometimes promoted on the Internet as a dietary supplement. However, evidence supporting health-related claims is lacking. In fact, colloidal silver can be dangerous to your health."
This guide includes the following personalities and media-related companies:
- Alex Jones
- Jim Bakker
- Wayne Allyn Root
- Steve Hotze
- Balance of Nature and Kevin McCullough
- Dustin Nemos' RedPill Living
- The Silver Edge
Jones is a conspiracy theorist who heads Infowars and an eponymous show. He has been selling bulk food at inflated prices and also hawking a variety of supplements as coronavirus cures and preventatives, including a colloidal silver toothpaste and zinc supplements.
The Food and Drug Administration sent Jones an April 9 warning letter demanding that he stop selling his products as coronavirus preventatives. New York Attorney General Letitia James has also told him to "immediately cease and desist selling and marketing products as a treatment or cure for the coronavirus" after Jones promoted his silver toothpaste.
Bakker is a disgraced scam artist who leads the PTL Television Network. He has heavily promoted products related to his doomsday prophecies and recently, as Right Wing Watch documented, attempted to sell a "silver solution" as a coronavirus cure.
The Food and Drug Administration, Federal Trade Commission, New York Attorney General Letitia James, and other government authorities have gone after Bakker for pushing his silver product.
The Jim Bakker Show is suggesting that the silver solution it sells can kill the coronavirus within 12 hours. https://t.co/kbUGnUp69m— Right Wing Watch (@Right Wing Watch)1581531423.0
Right Wing Watch: Jim Bakker Decries 'Warfare' That Has Forced Him to Stop Lying About His Silver Solution (3/24)
Wayne Allyn Root
Root is a columnist and host. He has endorsed an "alkaline structured silver" product from the company My Doctor Suggests, which advertises on his program, and he used his now-defunct Newsmax TV program to tout it for people who are concerned about COVID-19.
New York Attorney General Letitia James has ordered him "to immediately cease and desist from making misleading claims." Root lost his Las Vegas Review-Journal column due, in part, to his silver promotions.
Newsmax is a media company which produces an online publication, an array of subscription newsletters, and the cable channel Newsmax TV (which previously carried Root's program). Newsmax's health division has been trying to get subscriber money by selling a book claiming to offer "3 powerful secrets to never getting sick again," including ways to ward off the coronavirus. The outlet also emailed readers claiming that "the worst thing" they could do regarding the coronavirus outbreak is to "get a vaccine when it becomes available" because vaccines are supposedly "a scam."
Newsmax later distanced itself from the vaccine email, stating that "this marketing material was inadvertently published and it does not reflect the views of Newsmax."
Hotze is an anti-LGBTQ Republican who heads a health and wellness center and has appeared on numerous programs to downplay the coronavirus, including on Fox News. Even though he has dismissed the threat of the virus, Holtze has used it to grift his audience by selling an expensive "Immune Pak" and has suggested that his vitamins could help "prevent" people from getting the coronavirus.
Balance of Nature and Kevin McCullough
Balance of Nature is a supplement company that heavily advertises on conservative radio programs and enlists radio hosts like Kevin McCullough, a conservative commentator with a New York radio show and a frequent guest on Fox News, to endorse its product. The supplement has been pitched to listeners as being the "only" and "best" defense against the virus, and also as a treatment against it when the first signs of symptoms occur.
HoneyColony is an online magazine and store headed by conspiracy theorist Maryam Henein. It has been trying to sell pricey colloidal silver products by falsely claiming that they can prevent the coronavirus. Its Facebook page, which includes false coronavirus treatment claims, has over 100,000 followers.
Dustin Nemos' RedPill Living
Dustin Nemos is a conspiracy theorist and grifter who co-wrote the book QAnon: An Invitation to The Great Awakening, which became a bestseller on Amazon last year. He started the online store RedPill Living, which featured a colloidal silver "super concentrate" that purported to treat and cure the coronavirus. The store went offline after Media Matters contacted e-commerce platform Shopify for comment.
The Silver Edge
The Silver Edge is a colloidal silver company that is run by author and writer Steve Barwick. The company sells a "micro-particle colloidal silver generator" and has claimed that "colloidal silver beats coronavirus." New York Attorney General Letitia James sent Barwick a cease and desist order on March 11 regarding his deceptive practices and false advertising.
State of New York Office of the Attorney General: Re: Cease and Desist Notification (3/11)