Coronavirus survivors' ongoing 'nightmare' and dark money behind false COVID-19 video

The inclusion of a new FBI building, military weaponry in the GOP coronavirus relief proposal is frustrating Democrats and Republicans alike.
Image: SAUDI-RELIGION-HAJJ-HEALTH-VIRUS
Social distancing and quarantine: With the coronavirus pandemic, Muslims are embarking on a scaled down hajj pilgrimage this year. STR / AFP - Getty Images

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Some coronavirus victims are struggling with more than just the debilitating effects of the virus. Plus, fighting misinformation is getting harder as the virus intersects with politics. And even Republicans are questioning how $2 billion for a new FBI building made its way into the GOP's proposed relief bill.

Here's what we're watching this Wednesday morning.


These women's coronavirus symptoms never went away. Their doctors' willingness to help did.

Across the country, many coronavirus survivors with long-lasting symptoms, particularly women, are dealing with dual frustrations: debilitating health conditions that won’t go away and doctors who tell them the issue might be all in their heads.

"'Gaslighting' is the word I've been using repeatedly," said one woman whose doctor rolled his eyes at her when she was experiencing memory loss and a crippling migraine, in addition to chest tightness and numbness in her legs.

"I'm so ill, and some people are telling me this is a figment of my imagination. It truly feels like a nightmare."

Here are some other developments:


Dark money and super PAC behind viral hydroxychloroquine video

President Trump retweeted a video late Monday showing a group of doctors in lab coats falsely claiming that there is a cure for coronavirus and that masks and shutdowns don’t help stop the spread.

Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all subsequently took the video down — but not before millions had seen it.

It was just the latest video to go viral from apparent experts, quietly backed by dark money political organizations, evangelizing treatments for or opinions about the coronavirus that most doctors, public health officials and epidemiologists have roundly decried as dangerous misinformation.

The popularity of the video underscores the difficulty in moderating misinformation surrounding the coronavirus. Especially when treatments and public health responses have become increasingly political, aided in part by right-wing Facebook groups and super PACs secretly driving the conversation on social media, NBC News' Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins write.

Trump stood by the video at a White House briefing Tuesday. A reporter asked him why he would share content to his Twitter account from a doctor who has pushed wildly false medical information including that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens.

"I thought her voice was an important voice. But I know nothing about her," the president said before abruptly ending the briefing.


Inclusion of FBI building, military weaponry in coronavirus relief proposal frustrates GOP

Nearly $2 billion for a new FBI building. Another $8 billion in military weaponry.

Those are a few of the items tucked into the $1 trillion COVID-19 response package proposed by Senate Republicans to battle the surging coronavirus pandemic.

The seemingly unrelated add-ons have incensed fiscally conservative Republicans and Democrats alike.

The weapons bazaar galled Democrats whose votes will be required to pass the bill and many Senate Republicans have decried the huge price tag for the GOP bill.

The funding for a new FBI headquarters was added at the insistence of the administration, senators and aides said, causing some Republicans to publicly break with the president.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close ally of the president, said the inclusion "makes no sense to me." Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said, "I don’t think it should be in the bill."

While White House chief of staff Mark Meadows defended the inclusion of a new FBI building in the coronavirus relief package as a "pressing need," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a strong signal on Tuesday that he would like some of the extras stripped out of the bill.

"I would hope that all non-COVID related measures are out no matter what bills they were in at the start," McConnell told reporters.


Barr defends protest response, handling of high-profile cases amid Democrats' grilling

Democrats grilled Attorney General William Barr at a contentious daylong congressional hearing over the Justice Department's handling of politically sensitive cases, federal intervention in major cities during this summer's social unrest and President Donald Trump's mail-in voting conspiracy theories.

Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in his opening remarks Tuesday that Barr has "aided and abetted the worst failings of this president."

Barr defended the Trump administration’s response to protests in Portland, Oregon, saying protesters had "thrown things, used explosives and injured police."


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Plus


THINK about it

Today's tech hearing features Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple — and a scapegoat, Dipayan Ghosh and Joshua A. Geltzer write in an opinion piece.


Live BETTER

From the cradle to the grave: How harmful stereotypes affect Black women's health.


Shopping

Rihanna is launching a new skin care line called Fenty Skin. Here’s everything you need to know about it.


One fun thing

Talk about a coin stash.

Jim Holton, a Wisconsin-based painting contractor, has been saving loose change for 20 years.

"I was hoping to save so my wife and I could do something fun after our kids graduated from high school," the father of four told NBC News.

When he heard about the national coin shortage brought on by the coronavirus, he felt compelled to cash in — despite the fact that his youngest is just 15 and still in high school.

"I thought it would maybe be $1,000 or $1,500 tops," he said.

Turns out he'd accumulated $5,366.05!

He said he's gonna keep saving for that special trip down the road — just not with coins...

"It felt like it weighed 300 pounds," Holton said about the three five-gallon buckets and other containers he lugged to the bank last weekCourtesy Jim Holton

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — send me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra