Debunking the NYT conspiracy theory about Trump profiting from hydroxychloroquine

I have spent a lot of time criticizing the Trump administration’s policy ideas today. I’m a conservative, but Trump is not my political god. When I think he’s wrong I say so. There are specific ways I think the Trump administration could better serve our country at the moment. It’s actually not hard to make policy recommendations without sounding hysterical or conspiratorial.

The media and folks on the left have somehow yet to figure out that their incessant shrieking about Trump does not make them sound rational. They are cranking out stuff now that sounds not that far off from the Infowars fanboy who lives in a van down by the river. And it’s not coming from Twitter trolls. It’s coming from the highest ranks of their chattering class (including a lot of ex-Obama White House folks).

Trump is right about many things, and I think the benefits offered by hydroxychloroquine is one of them. This is not a position Trump has arrived at out of the blue – it is supported by many, many medical researchers and doctors. There are hospitals here in the United States that are using hydroxychloroquine with great success and have said so.

I missed it the day the report came out, but the New York Times published a wild conspiracy theory about the Devious Reasons why Trump is recommending hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of coronavirus. That piece was then echoed all over left-leaning media sites (e.g. The Huffington Post). This is what they do, all day every day. Their followers’ brains are full of this rot.

The NYT thinks that Trump has a financial interest in talking up the medication, because that’s been their running conspiracy theory about everything Trump suggests for several years now. Remember when every liberal crank you know was talking about how Trump secretly agreed to run the country according to Putin’s every whim because he wanted to invest in real estate in Russia? Trump and Putin became blood brothers and they trade state secrets through a special server that only anonymous sources know about because yadda yadda yadda hotels.

They have literally no reason to believe these things, but they don’t need a reason to believe them or share them with all of the other cranks on Facebook and Twitter. It’s the financial equivalent of thinking that 5G causes the coronavirus. Much of this garbage even makes it to the network news.

It turns out that this is the basis of the conspiracy theory the NYT has been pushing:

The New York Times says Trump has a “small personal stake” in Sanofi, the French drug manufacturer that produces the drug.

The report doesn’t say how small, but it notes that his three family trusts have investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund whose largest holding is Sanofi. A fund that matches this description is the Dodge & Cox International Stock Fund DODFX, +1.32%, which at last check was 3.3% invested in Sanofi.

Trump’s 2019 financial-disclosure form lists stakes in Family Trusts 1, 2 and 3 valued at between $1,001 and $15,000. So if Trump has the maximum $15,000 in each of the trusts, he holds a stake in Sanofi that’s worth $1,485 — and, at the minimum, just $99.

It turns out he does look to have more than that modest sum invested in Sanofi, because, unmentioned in the Times report, his trusts also hold broader European stock-market index funds.

The iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF IEFA, +1.03% has 0.67% of its holdings in Sanofi, and Sanofi is a 0.78% holding for the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF EFA, +0.81%, which is neither surprising nor notable, in that the French drug maker is so large.

But you know what makes their story even more ridiculous than talking about how a billionaire is deeply concerned about his $99 stake in Big Pharma? The fact that the drug they are talking about has been around since the 1950s and is available through generics. Oh man, the NYT found the stock that’s going to the Moon!

I’d say you couldn’t make this stuff up, but incredibly, they do manage.

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