While speaking at a rally in Charleston, South Carolina, President Donald Trump brought up the coronavirus and Democrats’ attempts to politicize the issue.
Trump called those attempts a new hoax, but you wouldn’t know that from media headlines following the event. Here’s what Trump actually said:
Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs, you say, “How’s President Trump doing?” They go, “Oh, not good, not good.” They have no clue; they don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa. They can’t count their votes!
One of my people came up to me and said, “Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over. They’ve been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning, they lost, it’s all turning. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.”
But you know, we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We have 15 people in this massive country, and because of the fact that we won early, we won early, we could’ve had a lot more than that. We’re doing great. Our country is doing so great. We are so unified. We are so unified.
Clearly, Trump’s “hoax” comment was referring to Democrats claiming his administration is not doing a good job containing the virus. His first comments are about how Democrats asked how Trump is doing in regard to the Coronavirus, and he mockingly responds as them: “Not good.” He never said the coronavirus itself is a hoax, just Democrats’ claims that the Trump administration is failing to protect the country.
That’s now how the media portrayed his comments in headlines, however. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank tweeted: “Remember this moment: Trump, in South Carolina, just called the coronavirus a ‘hoax.’”
Remember this moment: Trump, in South Carolina, just called the coronavirus a “hoax.”
— Dana Milbank (@Milbank) February 29, 2020
Politico’s headline reads: “Trump rallies his base to treat coronavirus as a ‘hoax.’” The lede claimed, “President Donald Trump on Friday night tried to cast the global outbreak of the coronavirus as a liberal conspiracy intended to undermine his first term, lumping it alongside impeachment and the Mueller investigation.”
Trump did no such thing, yet the Politico article continues along this assumption.
NBC was no better, publishing a headline that read: “Trump calls coronavirus Democrats’ ‘new hoax.’” The outlet’s lede also claimed Trump said “the outbreak is ‘their new hoax,’” even though that is not what he said. CNBC followed suit with a similar headline: “Trump says the coronavirus is the Democrats’ ‘new hoax.’”
Usually, media outlets write a headline like this to get clicks but let the actual article contain accurate information. In this case, each outline kept the inaccurate assumption from the headline throughout their article, claiming Trump said something he didn’t and then dedicating article space to debunking something he didn’t say.
People who don’t take the time to find Trump’s actual comments will only get the media version, which is completely inaccurate, but that seems to be the point.