Anyone who is (or wants to be) someone seems to have an opinion or advice on the current COVID-19 crisis. Frankly, many of these opinions have been pretty bad. And someone who makes money from media appearances trying to get these opinions off the Internet after realizing that those opinions were, in fact, bad enough, doesn’t help matters.
Dr. Drew Pinsky is up there with Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil on the list of “famous doctors whose names you probably know.” He became famous in the 1990s and 2000s thanks to his broadcast of television and radio advice Love line. Pinsky, who performs and markets himself as Dr. Drew, is indeed a doctor, but he is not an epidemiologist or specialist in infectious diseases. He obtained his doctorate in medicine from the University of Southern California in 1984 and went to work as a doctor, specializing in the treatment of drug addiction and chemical dependencies, in the decades that followed.
But not being an infectious disease expert has not prevented him from being widely contemptuous of the potential threat of COVID-19 throughout the year, even if the threat has continued to grow. Dr. Drew takes the threat seriously now that more than 330,000 people in the United States have tested positive for the disease and more than 10,000 have died. On Saturday, he posted a video apologizing for his previous comments, which he said was “false.”
However, Pinsky’s statements before the April 4 apology were overwhelming, especially in hindsight. Someone using the name Droopsdr did a five-minute supercut compilation highlighting dozens of cases where Pinsky mistakenly rejected the threat.
For example, in a clip dated February 4, Pinsky said that COVID-19 is “much less virulent than the flu” the next day, adding that the disease is “mild, does no harm to anyone,” and saying “This should be the headline: way less serious than the flu! “At the time, it is true, the flu was indeed more common in the United States than COVID-19. But he continued to express this sentiment throughout March as confirmed cases – and, unfortunately, deaths – continued to climb.
Pinsky admitted on March 28: “It’s not like there aren’t hundreds and hundreds of thousands of cases. There will be hundreds and hundreds of thousands of cases. But, he added, people should not let the numbers scare them because, “there are 24 million, 30 million cases of the flu every year,” of which he said 18,000 people die. (It was also incorrect: about 35.5 million people contracted the flu during the 2018-2019 season, and more than 34,000 people died from it, according to the CDC.)
Journalist Yashar Ali Tweeted a link to the April 4 video, calling Dr. Drew “a shame”. Apparently Pinsky and / or his staff did not care about the extra attention given to the super cup, and a few hours later an attempt to view the video came with the message: “This video is no longer available in reason for copyright claim by Drew Pinsky Inc. “
Ali also noted in a Tweet later that Pinsky was apparently threatening the people who shared the tweet, saying in response to many, “Counterfeit copywrite [sic] laws are a crime. Hang on to your retweets. Or erase to be safe. “
DroopsDr alluded to the withdrawal of a tweet from April 5, saying:
I really took Dr Drew at my word yesterday [April 4] and I appreciated it for having assumed its responsibilities… I will say that the sincerity of these excuses continues to be depreciated with each attempt to suppress or to plead what Preet Bharara, Ted Boutrous and others saw and determined is a clear example of the doctrine of fair use. Real excuses, for what it’s worth, have no conditions.
Bharara, a former American lawyer, and Boutrous, a senior lawyer, were among the many who responded to defend or amplify Ali.
“You’re safe from any trial” copywrite “, @yashar,” Bharara tweeted. “Know your writings. “
“Truth and fair use have had you,” Boutrous added in a Tweeter who cited the now suppressed threat from Pinsky.
It seems that Pinsky or YouTube were inclined to accept. Around noon Monday, give or take an hour, the list of YouTube videos has quietly started working again. Similarly, all posts on the Pinsky Twitter account @drdrew relating to the video have been deleted.
Ars contacted Pinsky for a comment and will update this story if we hear it.
Image by Jason Mendez | Getty Images