China hunted down doctors, journalists, scientists, and anyone trying to warn the world of the impending coronavirus pandemic. And in the early days, it seemed as though they put more resources into shutting people up than shutting down their virus. China’s actions had killed tens of thousands and crippled the global economy. But according to CNN hack Dr. Sanjay Gupta, that’s exactly what President Trump was doing because a Health and Human Services official claimed he was fired for objecting to hydroxychloroquine.
Speaking with foreign correspondent David Culver, who was in Wuhan, Gupta referred Dr. Li Wenliang, the doctor who tried to get the word out about the new virus emerging in the city.
“The former director of the U.S. office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine says he was sidelined in part because of his resistance to touting these medications, potentially dangerous ones President Trump was talking out,” Gupta prefaced. “I remember talking to you early on there was a similar situation with a whistleblower in Wuhan. Is that right?”
The U.S. official Gupta was referring to was Dr. Rick Bright, who claimed he was fired in retaliation for not promoting hydroxychloroquine. But Bright’s accusations were discredited almost as fast as he made them.
According to research by Politico reporter Dan Diamond (the same day Bright went public), there existed internal HHS emails from Bright that show him promoting the drug and praising the department’s acquisition of large quantities of it:
Three people with knowledge of HHS' recent acquisition of tens of millions of doses of those drugs said that Bright had supported those acquisitions in internal communications, with one official saying that Bright praised the move as a win for the health department as part of an email exchange that was first reported by Reuters last week, although Bright's message was not publicly reported.
"If Bright opposed hydroxychloroquine, he certainly didn't make that clear from his email — quite the opposite," said the official, who has seen copies of the email exchanges.
In a later update, Diamond reported that Bright was the leading voice behind the department’s push to obtain more doses. Diamond also had timestamped text messages from other HHS officials that showed Bright was on the chopping block as early as last year.
Those facts didn’t stop Culver from agreeing. “And there were several whistleblowers here originally Sanjay. You're right. I mean, Dr. Li Wenliang is the one you're referring to. And that’s just a beyond tragic story. It’s heartbreaking. It is somebody who actually opened up to CNN. We were the only foreign TV network that he spoke with prior to his passing away,” he lamented.
Of course, CNN was still pushing a debunked story. This was the same “facts first” outlet that got all its talking point prescriptions from CNN boss Jeff Zucker. This is CNN, fake news.
The transcript was below, click "expand" to read:
Coronavirus: Facts and Fears: A CNN Global Town Hall
April 23, 2020
8:10:41 p.m. Eastern
DR. SANJAY GUPTA: David, I know you've been following some of the news back here in the states as well. The former director of the U.S. office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine says he was sidelined in part because of his resistance to touting these medications, potentially dangerous ones President Trump was talking out. I remember talking to you early on there was a similar situation with a whistleblower in Wuhan. Is that right?
DAVID CULVER: And there were several whistleblowers here originally Sanjay. You're right. I mean, Dr. Li Wenliang is the one you're referring to. And that’s just a beyond tragic story. It’s heartbreaking. It is somebody who actually opened up to CNN. We were the only foreign TV network that he spoke with prior to his passing away.
And his story started back in December when this was an ophthalmologist were in Wuhan working at a hospital. He wanted to tell his friends about this SARS-like illness that was going around. He did want to be a hero, he just wanted to let friends and family know that this could be dangerous. And that message was shared. Local police got hold of it. They reprimanded him. They told him you are not to be spreading rumors. And after that, they sent him back to the hospital.
Now, one of the things that we wanted to do as we followed up with that story and after his passing in particular, because it's become incredibly politicized on both sides, Chinese government trying to shift it so that the narrative reflects him as a national hero. Whereas, folks even on Chinese social media initially were saying this is somebody who was ignored and could have changed the course of this pandemic early on and instead was suppressed. And on the western side of things, as the Chinese reflect it, they believe he’s being used for an agenda that portrays China as having covered up and mishandled this from the beginning, and which there are several indications that did happen certainly at the local level.
But I wanted to hear from Dr. LI's family in particular, his wife. His widow still lives here in Wuhan. And I'm going to give you a glimpse much our attempt to reach out to her, respectfully. We didn’t want to air any of her voice in the short phone call that we had of her. And we did change the voice of our translator to protect those involved. But this was our initiation to try to hear from her.
[Cuts to video]
We’ve pulled up now to the apartment building of Dr. LI Wenliang. He is really seen as a hero here in China. His widow lives in a building that I’m looking at just down the street here. We're going to give a call to see if she'll be willing to share a little bit with us about this whole experience and how she's been able to process it.
[Places the call and the translator starts to speak, then a transition]
CULVER: That was Dr. LI's widow who acknowledged her identity on the phone. We’re just in front of where she lives. Part of the concern has been since this story has been politicized by some here and outside of China, the concern is now that there's more pressure on his family to keep quiet. To simply not share beyond what Dr. LI himself already shared. At least we tried.
[Cuts back to live]
Her words were rather straightforward and just saying, “I can’t really say much. I've got too many things going on. I'm too busy right now.” Anderson, Sanjay?
ANDERSON COOPER: David Culver. David, thanks very much.