After a week of brutal statewide and national headlines and rebuke from Iowa medical experts, Senator Joni Ernst’s conspiracy theory scandal shows no signs of going away.
Nonpartisan analysis and fact checks have raked Senator Ernst over the coals for perpetuating categorically false lies that health care professionals are purposely inflating COVID-19 data for profit. And while Ernst refuses to apologize, more members of Iowa’s medical community are calling her out for “insulting” and demeaning the lifesaving efforts of frontline workers.
“Despite numerous opportunities, Senator Ernst has refused to apologize to health care heroes for disparaging their work and explain why she peddled a debunked conspiracy theory that could lead Iowans to ‘take COVID-19 less seriously,’” said Jeremy Busch, Iowa Democratic Party spokesperson. “Senator Ernst must immediately apologize to our health care heroes, denounce her dangerous conspiracy theories, and finally prove she is listening to medical experts by calling for a statewide mask mandate.”
Here are 10 of the most damning quotes so far on Senator Ernst’s scandal:
- Washington Post: “Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told voters she was skeptical of the high U.S. death rate from the novel coronavirus, echoing comments espoused online by conspiracy theorists.”
- CNN’s John Berman: “There are two parts to it. Number one is buying into a QAnon theory that 185,000 people who have died from coronavirus haven’t died from coronavirus. The other part of this saying that health care workers are lying. That people who are risking their lives are lying.”
- Iowa Starting Line: “All the fact checkers and medical experts have slammed this as blatantly false, but you don’t even need a medical degree to make your own logical conclusion here.”
- Des Moines Register: “UnityPoint Health’s top physician said on Thursday, Sept. 3, he fears Iowans might take COVID-19 less seriously after U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst publicly speculated that doctors have exaggerated the disease’s death toll.”
- New York Times headline: “As virus cases spike in Iowa, Joni Ernst spreads a debunked theory of inflated death figures.”
- KCCI: “Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is in hot water with health officials. The congresswoman said she’s skeptical of the COVID-19 death toll – suggesting doctors are inflating COVID-19 deaths for more money.”
- Associated Press: “Echoing a discredited conspiracy theory, vulnerable Republican Sen. Joni Ernst is suggesting government statistics on coronavirus infections and deaths have been inflated.”
- MSNBC: “The senator, who really ought to know better than to peddle stuff like this in public, was lending her support to ideas from the radical fringe.”
- The Hill: “The Iowa Republican’s remarks doubting the coronavirus death toll reflects conspiracy theories promoted by proponents of QAnon that public health experts have railed against as untrue, The Washington Post noted.”
- Daily Beast: “She went so far as to accuse doctors and nurses of inflating the figure for increased compensation”