Medical "professionals" like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and newly anointed expert William Barr share a distinct advantage over their formally trained brethren: they won’t be held responsible when people die under their watch. That trio won’t sit before a review board and face questioning as to why they suggested some alternate "treatment," or if the choice made sense or fell within certain diagnostic parameters. And they won’t be asked if they remembered a dictum of Hippocrates:
“The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future — must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm.”
Good stuff, huh?
Now Hannity et al. won’t be asked if they remember it because they’ve never heard of it. There's no real time slot for Hippocrates’ work, Of the Epidemics on Fox News, so these media types won't have to answer to it ever. Ever.
Even when it comes to something as horrific and deadly as COVID-19, the MAGA-ical thinking right-wing pundits can attack the problem without the burden of outcome. When words engender no consequences, life is so much easier. Just ask the man in the white House—the driver of the red-hat clown car—and you'll see why it's not a problem. He's been making stuff up for over three years with nary a slap on the wrist...which brings us to his recent pronouncement, uttered ad nauseam, that the cure cannot be worse than the disease.
First off, yes it can. That's why doctors don't drain a person's blood and replace it with sulfuric acid to destroy cancer cells. I'm not a chemist, but I think it would do the trick. Then again I'm not a doctor, but I doubt if the patient would survive.
But what if it's not some blogger like me using an analogy, but instead a celebrity with a massive, faithful following? Does that celebrity share a responsibility when some unwitting but trusting fan dies? (Five days after Donald Trump praised chloroquine as a possible virus “game changer,”an Arizona man died from drinking fish-tank cleaner containing the chemical.)
When something goes awry like that, Hannity, Limbaugh, and the like will be the first to remind us that they're simply entertainers, and that if someone misinterprets them, oh well, whoops. The burden of outcome is always some else's. Ditto Trump.
Finally, for those of you who can't get enough Hippocrates these days...
“I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.”
Until the self-appointed and self-anointed media personalities and pundits can agree to let ability and judgment govern their own statements, maybe they should just get out of the way. If nothing else, should they ever gain an actual moral compass and accept their responsibility to be truth-tellers, they won't have to suffer the guilt of estimating the myriad who died from heeding their advice.