Admit it: You don't know whether to believe him or not. Is President Donald Trump lying about taking hydroxychloroquine? He usually does make things up, but one thing is absolutely true about the Trumpster: He always manages somehow to focus all of the attention on himself.
And we in news-biz fall for it every single time. The moment he slipped into a news briefing that he was popping "hydroxy" pills, reporters went scurrying to find the first commenters they could, particularly those who would be so shocked that they could barely contain their outrage/fright/distress.
It didn't matter whether it was a medical expert or opposition politician, as long as the reactor went nuclear.
Trump was once again controlling the agenda. Nevermind that, if true — a big "if" — it was a crackpot idea to take this anti-malaria-lupus-rheumatoid arthritis drug, but not, as several studies have demonstrated, anti-coronavirus.
For starters, notwithstanding the president's endorsement early on, its off-label misuse is dangerous. Side effects can include a disruption of heart activity, leading to death. And another one: It can make you bonkers. Quoting the Mayo Clinic description listing possible side effects, it can cause:
— Feeling that others are watching you or controlling your behavior.
— Feeling that others can hear your thoughts.
— Feeling, seeing or hearing things that are not there.
That would explain Trump and all his conspiracy theories, except that he was spouting off those long before he started his hydroxychloroquine and zinc regimen. Why zinc? It bolsters your immune system.
Forgetting whether the president of the United States should be taking such a dangerous drug, his doing so and publicly announcing it creates an instant shortage. Those who have a medical need are out of luck, as the gullible Trump followers ... uh ... follow his example and start demanding prescriptions themselves.
Their guy has decided to end his journey into the pharmacological unknown, but he's certainly not finished risking the lives of millions of Americans. His self-serving support for the premature reopening of the country contradicts the advice of most medical experts, who say it's too soon and that thousands will die as a result.
Trump is also itching to get back on the election trail by holding rallies. Besides the focus on himself as he tosses fact-deprived red meat to his roaring masses, it would be a dangerous adventure with thousand crammed into each venue, sweating, coughing, spitting, hating, sharing conspiracy theories ... whatever they do at his rallies. And not maintaining social distance and certainly not wearing masks.
It's not that this is all bad. It's possible that he would flush Joe Biden out of his basement to sell himself, as opposed to relying on the country to vote for him because he's not Donald Trump.
Next up for Biden, the announcement of his running mate selection. That's a toughie. He's already declared that it will be a woman.
But which woman? Is she the right color? Is she progressive enough? Is she too progressive?
Is she someone who will draw attention away from Donald Trump? Which is a tall order, considering how he's a shameless self-promoter, even willing to damage himself with unproven drugs. Assuming you believe he actually took hydroxychloroquine.
Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN; his opinions are his own.