A doctor who former president Donald Trump once promoted on his Twitter account filed a $100 million libel suit against CNN and anchor Anderson Cooper for allegedly tarnishing her medical reputation.
On July 27, 2020, Dr. Immanuel Stella visited Washington D.C. as part of a fringe group called “American Frontline Doctors,” which opposes lockdowns and social distancing mandates in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Stella was recorded delivering a speech outside of the Supreme Court building in support of the malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ).
“This virus has a cure, it’s called hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and zithromax. People want to talk about masks? Hello, no you don’t need a mask. There is a cure. There are those who don’t want to open schools. No, you don’t need to be locked down. There is prevention, and there is a cure,” Stella said in her speech.
Trump retweeted the video, commenting on Stella including that he thought she made some “very impressive” statements about her treatment of patients using HCQ. The President added that he thought Dr. Stella’s voice was “important.”
In response to Trump’s tweets, Cooper aired a segment entitled, “Trump promoted a doctor. Watch what she says about demons.” Cooper refuted Stella’s medical claims about HCQ and criticized Trump for retweeting a video that promoted an “unproven drug.”
“Medically, that is simply not true,” Cooper said, referring to Stella’s claim that HCQ cures Covid. “The most recent study published in New England Medical Journal was done on 500 patients across 55 hospitals in Brazil showed no benefit [to hydroxychloroquine] and instead revealed heart complications which can be deadly.”
In the segment, Cooper also called into question the President’s decision to tout the medical advice of a doctor who “believes that women can be physically impregnated by witches in their dreams,” showing portions of a sermon Stella delivered in 2016.
In her complaint filed on July 27th in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Stella accuses Cooper of “juxtaposing a series of facts” to “create a false impression that Dr. Immanuel was incompetent and unfit to be a medical doctor.” She writes that she personally treated 350 patients of COVID with HCQ, and all except one patient were healed.
She also cites a May 2021 article published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that found supporting evidence that HCQ could help prevent mortality among COVID-19 patients.
“Cooper and CNN falsely portrayed HCQ as ‘harmful,’ ‘dangerous’, ‘disproven’ and supposedly ineffective for the treatment of COVID19. In truth, [hydroxychloroquine] is an entirely effective medication for the treatment of COVID19, as proven by clinical results, the success of doctors who use it frequently in their practices,” the lawsuit states.
One of Stella’s attorneys is Steven Biss, who frequently files defamation suits on behalf of Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA). Biss has been accused of using dubious legal tactics in the past, and a Virginia federal judge once warned Biss about forum shopping, a term used for attorneys who strategically file cases in certain courts because they think they’ll get a more favorable outcome.