Scott Adams recently made the claim that the majority of doctors in the USA support the use of hydroxychloroquine. Normally a cartoonist's podcast would not be a notable source for a claim, so it is worth reviewing the background.
Context and background
There is clearly a great deal of controversy over the use of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for treating COVID-19. And mainstream media seem to side with the view that its effectiveness has not be demonstrated and therefore promoting it is unsafe. Hence they tend to push back when Trump or his supporters promote it. Some claim this is a political conspiracy designed purely to hurt Trump.
In a recent CNN interview with Peter Navarro (Trump's trade advisor) this scenario played out in a fairly typical way (reported by The Hill here):
In the combative Wednesday interview, Navarro continued to push the drug as a coronavirus treatment, dismissing contradictory comments made by the nation’s top public health expert and White House coronavirus task force member Anthony Fauci.
“Tony is a great guy. There's just disagreements on things like, for example, hydroxychloroquine. He has a strong point of view. There's as many doctors on the other side,” Navarro said on CNN’s “OutFront,” referring to Fauci.
“But there aren’t,” Burnett responded.
“Peter, first of all, on a basic level, you're an economist, not a scientist,” she added.
Navarro responded by referencing a video posted by Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind Dilbert, that attacks CNN over its coverage of the anti-malaria drug as a coronavirus treatment.
“He did a beautiful video on Twitter, and the thesis of the video is that CNN might be killing thousands because of the way they’ve treated that. I’ll let Scott Adams be my defense on this,” Navarro said.
Since the video has been referenced in a major news outlet by a very senior government official as a key plank in his support for the use of HCQ, it is worth questioning the key claim in the video.
The audio of the Scott Adams podcast is here.
The Adams Argument
Scott Adams' argument in the podcast claims the mainstream media are conspiring to suppress evidence to hurt Trump. His argument is that many if not most doctors agree with Trump's position.
He claims around 1:30 in the podcast that many doctors worldwide support its use (all quotes my manual transcription):
I would guess that maybe fifty thousand doctors around the world are using it on themselves or prescribing it.
He builds on this argument the idea that Trump's views on HCQ are entirely consistent with the views of the majority of doctors:
It is completely true that Trump's opinion on HCQ matches exactly most doctors' in the USA.
More specifically at around 4:25 he claims that "perhaps 90%" either use it or support its use:
I don't know if it is 100% and I won't make that claim, but it's probably 90%.
He clarifies by excluding academic medical experts (like epidemiologists) from his claim as he seems to think they are institutionally biased. So his claim appears to be about "front-line" doctors only.
His entire argument is founded on this claim. Including the idea that media suppression of evidence that HCQ works could be costing tens of thousands of lives.
I don't think Skeptics.SE is a good place to assess whether there is a conspiracy theory by the mainstream media to hurt Trump, but a simple factual claim like the foundation of Adams' analysis is a good fit here.
Do the majority of US doctors support the use of HCQ for treating covid-19?
Clarification notes on dates
The Navarro interview took place on August 5 and quoted the Adams podcast which was done on July 30. We should presume that their claims are intended to reflect the situation on those dates.
I would presume that, early in the pandemic, most doctors would support testing any drug where there might be a reasonable hypothesis of benefit. So results reporting medical opinion in answers need to take into account when the opinion was surveyed.
Also note that the issue of whether we know HCQ works is addressed in other questions here, notably Is hydroxychloroquine + zinc + antibiotics an effective treatment for COVID-19? and Is hydroxychloroquine proven to reduce the need for hospitalization for Covid-19?.