CLAIM

A U.S. surgeon who exposed “Clinton Foundation corruption in Haiti” was found dead in his home under suspicious circumstances.

FALSE

RATING

FALSE

ORIGIN

On 12 December 2017, frequent purveyor of misinformation Your News Wire published a paranoid, gratuitous account of a well-known surgeon’s suicide, apparently geared to play into two widespread anti-Clinton conspiracy theories: that the Clinton family has killed (and continues to kill) their political and personal enemies, and that the Clinton Foundation’s development work in Haiti, which has been both praised and criticized, exposed widespread corruption on the part of the Clintons.

While the story never explicitly makes the claim that the Clintons were responsible for his death, that is the conclusion it heavily implies through factually dubious innuendo. A common tactic for Your News Wire and other conspiracy-geared clickbait outlets obscures demonstrably false or scandalous claims by presenting them alongside factual reporting, blurring the lines between news and hysterical propaganda. This story is no exception to that formula:

Dr. Dean Lorich, an orthopedic surgeon who volunteered in Haiti and exposed Clinton Foundation corruption and malpractice on the island, has been found dead in New York. He was 54. […]

One of the United States’ leading surgeons, Dr. Lorich was part of the relief effort sent by the U.S. to assist the relief effort led by the Clinton Foundation in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. However Dr. Lorich was disgusted by the “shameful” Clinton Foundation operation, and voiced his concerns to Hillary Clinton directly.

The first factual element of the Your News Wire story is the death of a surgeon named Dean Lorich, who was found dead from a self-inflicted knife wound in his Manhattan home on 10 December 2017. His death was widely reported, as he was prominent in the field of orthopedic trauma surgery; after singer Bono suffered a cycling accident in New York in 2014, Lorich operated on the rock star, which led to an interview in Rolling Stone. (At the time of his death, Lorich was being sued by former New York Giants runningback Michael Cox, who had accused him of career-ending malpractice.)

The second factual element of the Your News Wire story is that Lorich was part of a team of doctors volunteering their time in Haiti after the 12 January 2010 Earthquake. The group was primarily focused on providing emergency surgeries to save children’s limbs from amputation. He found his time there disturbing and frustrating due to the United State’s poor on-the-ground logistics, and cowrote an opinion piece for CNN on 25 January 2010 expressing this sentiment.

These facts provide the spartan structure by which Your News Wire supports a thin veneer of false statements or deliberate mischaracterizations. Most glaring, perhaps, is their characterization of Lorich as part of an effort associated with the Clinton Foundation. While the Clintons have had a long history with Haiti, the Foundation played no role in Lorich’s trip, and they had no formal role in Haitian relief efforts at that time.

The Clinton’s contacts in Haiti are mentioned briefly in Lorich’s CNN piece from 2010. The politically connected and noted surgeon who organized the volunteer trip — David Helfet, not Lorich — had reached out to “Bill and Hillary Clinton” for advice on conditions on the ground. Though the foundation had no formal role in Haiti at this time, former President Bill Clinton had been serving as the United Nations’ special envoy to Haiti since May 2009.

Your News Wire takes this faulty “exposing corruption” premise a step further, going so far as to suggest that the CNN opinion piece was a response to the Clinton Foundation specifically:

One of the United States’ leading surgeons, Dr. Lorich was part of the relief effort sent by the U.S. to assist the relief effort led by the Clinton Foundation in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. However Dr. Lorich was disgusted by the “shameful” Clinton Foundation operation, and voiced his concerns to Hillary Clinton directly.

In fact, the piece (which did describe the conditions as “shameful”) did not mention the Clinton Foundation at all, making Your News Wire’s description that it “exposed Clinton Foundation corruption” patently false. The piece instead directed its criticism more broadly toward the United States’ overall presence in Haiti:

The lack of support for our operation by the United States is shocking and embarrassing and shows how woefully unprepared we are for the realities of disasters. We came to understand that our isolated operation may work in a mission, but not in a disaster.

The implication that Lorich “voiced his concerns to Hillary Clinton directly” or reached out to anyone at the State Department personally is, as well, false. In a 24 January 2010 e-mail to Hillary Clinton published by WikiLeaks, chief of staff Cheryl Mills forwarded a chain of messages sent to her by a friend and fellow surgeon, that had, itself, been forwarded as part of a long e-mail chain that originated with Lorich.

The message Lorich sent contains the same details that eventually became the CNN piece. However, his CNN story and the forwarded messages contain no allegations of corruption, and Lorich never sent the e-mail to either Mills or Clinton directly. Instead, he sent the account to fellow orthopedic surgeon Christopher Born with an encouragement to share it “with everyone and anyone you find might help.”

Lorich’s death, while a tragic and sudden suicide, comes with no evidence of any foul play. Reports of the death as suspicious are based only on the initial report from Lorich’s 11-year-old daughter, who found his body, to the building’s doorman, who called police and described the incident as an “assault.” Neither individual was in a position to determine the circumstances of his death at the time.

Framing Lorich’s death as related to his contact with the Clintons, then, is based only on the false statements that he worked for the Clinton Foundation while in Haiti, and that he personally was in touch with Hillary Clinton about his problems with the U.S. response to the earthquake. In reality, he had no direct contact with the Clinton Foundation, the Clintons, or their staff. The implication that Lorich was somehow targeted by the Clintons or their foundation because of this criticism of America’s work in Haiti is based solely on the fact that he had publicly disagreed with aid decisions made by United States in the immediate response to a catastrophic natural disaster.

By this standard — and this does appear to be the standard Your News Wire is working with — anyone who dies an unexpected death who also held a negative view of any aspect of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State would implicate the Clintons as a suspect in their death. This is not a reasonable standard, and the additional evidence to support a nefarious connection was fabricated. Therefore, we rank this claim as false.

Sources:

Dmitry, Baxter.   “US Surgeon, Who Exposed Clinton Foundation Corruption In Haiti, Found Dead.”
    Your News Wire.   11 December 2001.

Katz, Jonathan, M.   “The Clintons Didn’t Screw Up Haiti Alone. You Helped.”
    Slate.   22 September 2016.

Annese, John, et al.   “Doctor Found Dead With Knife in Chest Inside NYC Apartment.”
    New York Daily News.   10 December 2017.

Oppenheim, Maya.   “New York Surgeon Who Treated Bono Found Dead in Park Avenue Apartment in Suspected Suicide.”
    The Independent.   11 December 2017.

Newman, Jason.   “Bono Treated With Metal Plates, ‘Intensive Therapy’ After Bike Injury.”
    Rolling Stone.   19 December 2014.

Fox News.   “New York Surgeon Discovered Dead at Home Was Sued by NFL Player for ‘Ending His Career’.”
    12 December 2017.

Lorich, Dean, et al.   “Doctors: Haiti Medical Situation Shameful.”
    CNN.   25 January 2010.

Lee, Michelle Ye Hee.   “Did the Clinton Foundation Raise ‘Hundreds of Millions of Dollars’ for a Hospital in Haiti That Was Never Built?”
    CNN.   13 June 2016.

Hospital for Special Surgery.   “Hospital for Special Surgery Honors Comcast’s Brian L. Roberts and Orthopedic Surgeon, David Helfet, MD, at Annual Tribute Dinner.”
    3 June 2015.

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