People Keep Repeating The Debunked Claim That Trump Called Coronavirus A ‘Hoax’

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Media pundits, political operators and influencers still can’t stop repeating the falsehood that President Donald Trump called the novel coronavirus a “hoax,” even after several high profile fact checks hit news cycle.

President Donald Trump called criticism of his administration’s handling of the pandemic the Democrats’ “new hoax” during a Feb. 28 campaign rally in South Carolina. He repeatedly said that the coronavirus must – and will be  – taken “very, very seriously.” He also clarified his remarks the next day, noting he was referring to how Democrats were politicizing the issue.

Trump has been widely criticized in the media for not acting fast enough to address the virus, which he began by instituting a travel ban from China in January.

Some media and politicians later pounced on the claim that Trump called the coronavirus itself a “hoax” following his Feb. 28 comments. The Daily Caller’s Check Your Fact traced the initial falsehood to a Politico headline that read “Trump rallies his base to treat coronavirus as a ‘hoax’”.

“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,” reads Politico’s lead sentence. Transcripts definitively show Trump reiterating the seriousness of the virus, even as he criticized the Democrats’ response. He called the respiratory virus a “public health threat” and said “we have to take it very, very seriously. That’s what we’re doing. We are preparing for the worst.”

NBC News followed up with its own version that was equally false, according to multiple fact checkers. Both outlets have refused to correct their stories.

The Washington Post and Snopes later each independently ruled the claim as false, but that hasn’t stopped the disinformation that Politico and NBC News started.

Tim O’Brien, the former senior advisor to Mike Bloomberg’s campaign, was just one notable person who has continued to push the disinformation. He tweeted out a deceptively-edited video that suggests Trump called the virus itself a “hoax.” (RELATED: Twitter Refuses To Label Deceptive Biden Video As ‘Manipulated’ – Here’s Why)

Democratic Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan also boosted this claim on MSNBC and receive zero push back from the network’s host. (RELATED: Here Are The Politicians And Media Outlets Pushing The Claim That Trump Called The Coronavirus A ‘Hoax’)

“I don’t want to get into a political discussion, but the leader of this country calling this a hoax for such a long period of time put us behind the eight-ball,” Ryan claimed.


Daily Beast columnist Dean Obeidallah also published this story on MSNBC March 15. He chastised Trump over how the administration has handled the novel coronavirus and spoke about the president’s apparent lackluster attitude with its seriousness at first.

This is when Obeidallah slides in the Trump “hoax” claim. Again, there was no pushback, despite all of the fact checks on this story indicating that the president never called the virus a “hoax.”

“So you have Trump – his words – saying ‘everything’s fine,’ to ‘this is a hoax,’ to literally lying to that press conference and he pointed to Mike Pence and he said, we have 15 cases and soon it will be zero. He knew that was a lie, yet he told the American people, it was a lie,” Obeidallah said.


The Daily Beast columnist, who also writes for CNN opinion, tweeted about the claim as well, continuing to push the fake news as recently as March 18.

This story has continued to be peddled in various forms, whether it be through a simple sentence on television that received no pushback or through a tweet.

Some of the tweets even include the video of Trump speaking at his February campaign rally. The video clearly shows the president indicating that it is the Democrats’ “new hoax,” referring to how the party has criticized his response to the novel coronavirus.