McDowell Says He Had Close Brush with Death

Former FCC commissioner Robert McDowell is back to tweeting after what he said was a close brush with death from COVID-19--a 50/50 chance he would not pull through. 

He credits a combination of antibiotics and hydroxychloroquine*, the antimalarial drug President Trump has been trumpeting as a potentially effective treatment. Doctors disagree about its possible efficacy. 

McDowell had been silent for most of a week after tweeting that he was returning to the hospital with a serious case of the virus.  

On April 1 he tweeted he was back home, "feeble and isolated," but apparently out of danger. 

By April 2, McDowell was pointing out in a tweet that the markets had gone up after chairman Ajit Pai spoke on CNBC. 

Since then he has tweeted to mark the anniversary of the first cell phone call (April 3) followed by a pair of tweets thanking his doctor, with this the most recent: 


McDowell is currently partner at Cooley LLP in Washington, where he is co-leader of Cooley's global communications practice.  

*At present, there are no FDA-approved drugs specifically for treatment of patients with COVID-19. Treatment includes "infection prevention and control measures and supportive care." That includes oxygen and ventilators when necessary. According to the CDC: "Based upon limited in-vitro and anecdotal data...hydroxychloroquine [is] currently recommended for treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in several countries...Due to higher in-vitro activity against [COVID-19] and its wider availability in the United States compared with chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine has been administered to hospitalized COVID-19 patients on an uncontrolled basis in multiple countries, including in the United States....Hydroxychloroquine is currently under investigation in clinical trials for pre-exposure or post-exposure prophylaxis of [COVID-19] infection, and treatment of patients with mild, moderate, and severe COVID-19." (

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.