In mid-March, a cryptocurrency investor, a law school graduate and a self-described philosopher found each other on Twitter. They discussed their hopes that a little-known drug called hydroxychloroquine could help contain the accelerating coronavirus outbreak. Two days later, two of them published a paper about the drug’s potential on Google Docs, falsely claiming the imprimatur of two major universities and the National Academy of Sciences.
What started as a Twitter discussion on March 11 among strangers led to a thinly sourced Google Doc published on March 13 that grabbed the attention of Silicon Valley elite and conservative media. Within days, the paper scored one of its authors a spot on on both Laura Ingraham’s and Tucker Carlson’s Fox News shows. The day after Carlson’s show, Trump made his first mention of hydroxychloroquine from the White House podium.
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