What's Odd About That Story of a Nurse Who Trashed Her Dying COVID Patients

Posted: Nov 23, 2020 5:45 PM
What's Odd About That Story of a Nurse Who Trashed Her Dying COVID Patients

Source: AP Photo/Taimy Alvarez

As with anything in the Trump era, if something is too good to be true, it usually is but that hasn’t stopped the liberal media from doing their part in damaging the president no matter what the cost to their credibility. Let’s take this gross story from CNN. Some nurse in South Dakota went on national television to mock and trash her dying COVID patients to oddly take a swipe at Trump supporters and COVID denialism. Former CNN producer and media executive Steve Krakauer put this story under the microscope in his Fourth Watch newsletter and found that there were some oddities. That being this could be a total fake news story. National Review and our sister site RedState also dissected it, along with Wired magazine. Here’s the story:

There are many negative side effects to the outsized role Twitter has taken on in programming our national media conversation. From cable news to digital media outlets (or the digital output of print publications), what is said on Twitter is an easy way to grab a "man on the street" point of view, or get a sense of what is supposedly important (if it's "trending"). Twitter, though, is of course not real life. And just because something is posted on Twitter and gets a few thousand RTs, doesn't mean it's important.

But there's another danger of Twitter. Just because something is posted on Twitter and seems true, doesn't mean it is. An ER nurse in South Dakota posted on Twitter that patients of hers refused to believe COVID was real - because they had been fed that by right-wing media and Trump, of course - and that even as they were dying, they held out that it was all a hoax. Jodi Doering, the nurse, ended up a few days later on CNN - to tell this story from her late night tweets to a national TV audience. "Their last dying words are, ‘This can’t be happening. It’s not real,'" Doering said. "It just makes you sad, and mad, and frustrated, and then you know you're going to come back and do it all over again."

Let's put aside the fact that Doering is choosing to go on national TV and share the private dying words of her patients. It's not a literal violation, it's just sort of generally gross. She laughed her way through the interview with CNN's Alisyn Camerota for more than six minutes. Even if the nurse wanted to do this, why would CNN want to give a platform to this awful, inhumane treatment of dying Americans?

The story was written up in The Washington Post, USA Today and others. Elizabeth Warren quote-tweeted it. But... was it real?


Multiple spokespeople and nurses each publication talked to said they had not heard of a single instance of "COVID denial" among patients at their facilities.

Wired went deeper into story and found that no one in the media did their homework regarding this story. No one. This is almost as bad as the COVID party story that the magazine also investigated and couldn’t find a single shred of solid, credible evidence that this was happening (via Wired):

Doering’s statement that she’s watched “so many” people die from the disease even as they deny its very existence, endlessly repeated on social media and presented by news outlets without corroboration, would seem to represent a broader phenomenon.

But other nurses who work in similar settings say they’ve seen nothing of the kind.

I called a number of hospitals in the same part of South Dakota to ask emergency room nurses if they’d noticed the same, disturbing phenomenon. At Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital, about 20 minutes from Doering’s hometown of Woonsocket, an ER nurse told me, “I have not had that experience here.” At my request, Kim Rieger, the VP for communications and marketing at Huron Regional Medical Center, one of the four medical facilities where Doering works, spoke with several nurses at Huron to get their reactions to the CNN interview. None said they’d interacted with Covid patients who denied having the disease.


Perhaps it’s worth considering that Huron Regional Medical Center has seen a total of six Covid-19 deaths to date. Beadle County, where Huron is located, has registered a total of 22 such deaths, 13 of which occurred since August 1. And in Sanborn County, where Doering lives, there’s been one Covid-19 death. It’s certainly possible that the other facilities where Doering works have seen a higher number of fatalities; she may indeed have watched a great many patients die, as so many frontline workers have. But when all we have is one person’s story, it’s hard to know exactly what it means.

In fact, this episode has some similarities to other weakly sourced accounts of Covid denialism in states that vote Republican. In July we heard reports of rampant “Covid parties.”


As WIRED’s Gilad Edelman reported at the time, none of these accounts held up to further scrutiny—yet each had been picked up from its original source and then amplified by larger publications that added little or no additional reporting.

Yes, could a couple of patients have said what this Doering person alleges, maybe—but her account has been shot up like Swiss cheese and while these people want the wider public to take the COVID pandemic more seriously, it’s stories like this that just make people want to change the channel. The public has been misled or given bad information on this virus too many times—all of which exaggerated in an effort to attack the Trump White House. It’s nakedly political—and the so-called experts have made total fools of themselves for months starting with the fiasco over masks. 

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