New York Warns Televangelist Bakker About Coronavirus-Related Claims

New York State is warning televangelist Jim Bakker not to hawk Silver Solution as a possible cure for the new and deadly strain of coronavirus. 

That came in a cease and desist letter March 3. 

Bakker's web site promotes 'Silver Soluton"

Bakker's web site promotes 'Silver Soluton"

In the letter, chief of the state's Health Care Bureau, Lisa Landau, said that the state's Attorney General's office was extremely concerned about an episode featuring a guest plugging Silver Solution, which the Jim Bakker Show sells on its web site.  

In an episode of the show cited by Landau, a guest is asked if the solution would be effective against the virus. "Let's say it hasn't been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but its been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours." 

Given that the new strain of the virus poses a serious public health risk, says the letter, and consumers are concerned about how to best protect themselves from it, "your show's segment may mislead consumers" as to the effectiveness of the solution. Given that the World Health Organization has said there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat the disease--a vaccine is not expected to be ready for at least a year and likely longer--Landau warns Bakker that any representation that the solution can treat or prevent the disease violates New York law. 

It asks the show not to make any misleading claims and immediately put a disclaimer on ads for the product saying it has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

The state has given Bakker and the show 10 days to confirm that it has complied, and threatens to sue for up to $5,000 per violation if it does not. 

The Web site continues to sell the solution at press time and includes a story that does not claim it prevents the virus but does have the headline: "Covid-19 Coronavirus, building immunity, staying healthy and the benefits of Silver Solution." 

Bakker was famously convicted and imprisoned for accounting fraud.  

The Federal Trade Commission has warned consumers to keep a weather eye out for health and other claims related to combating the virus.

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.