August 19, 2020

Did you happen to catch Anderson Cooper’s interview with My Pillow founder and big Donald Trump supporter Mike Lindell on CNN Tuesday afternoon? It flew off the rails, with at one point Cooper calling Lindell a “snake oil salesman” and asking him, “How do you sleep at night?”

Lindell was talking about the use of oleandrin as a potential coronavirus treatment. He called it “the miracle of all time” and suggested that tests are out there to show it works. But when pressed by Cooper, Lindell could not provide details about any tests or why it hasn’t been made public. A flustered Lindell blurted out, “There has been studies the FDA has not published yet.”

Eventually, a frustrated Cooper laid into Lindell, comparing him to a “snake oil salesman” from the Old West. He then said to Lindell, “You have no medical background. You have no science background at all. You have a financial stake in this company. … You can’t give any details about an alleged study of a thousand people that you allegedly have read, yet you remember nothing about it. This has not been tested anywhere outside one lab in a test tube … yet you say this is the cure of COVID.”

In another exchange, Lindell asked why he would push something that wouldn’t work. And Cooper said, “Money.”

When Lindell asked, “Why would I ruin my reputation?” Anderson said, “You don’t have a great reputation.”

My initial reaction was: Why even have this guy on? Why interview him? Why bring on someone who is not a doctor, not a scientist and is pushing something that is potentially dangerous?

Here’s why: Sadly, there are those out there who might believe this is a cure and will take it. It’s important for news outlets to shoot down this harmful drug and it’s especially important for Cooper to dismantle Lindell the way he did on Tuesday.

How bad did Lindell look? CNN “United Shades of America” host W. Kamau Bell tweeted, “Anderson Cooper is on CNN right making the MyPillow guy look like a guy who shouldn’t even be allowed to sell pillows.”

Later on CNN, Dr. Sanjay Gupta told Wolf Blitzer, “What’s going on here is that a totally unproven therapy that is actually quite dangerous is something that has made its way into the ear of the president. This is not something that you want to take.”

Gupta said there has been talk this could be sold as a supplement, and that there are those who think taking a “supplement” can’t hurt.

“That’s not the case here; this one could hurt,” Gupta said. “It has no evidence whatsoever in humans to show it could be beneficial against the coronavirus. I watched the interview that Anderson did with this founder of My Pillow earlier and he said that there’s phase one and phase two data around this. There’s not. … You don’t want to use this.”

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here. Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer. 

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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  • Mike Lindell’s reputation is a joke. Just ask the BBB. He got busted for falsely using their logo on his commercials. Never was or ever will be endorsed by the BBB.