The mainstream media has run wild, saying President Donald Trump used the word “hoax” to describe the threat of a coronavirus pandemic.
“Trump calls Coronavirus Democrats’ ‘new hoax,’” blasted an NBC headline.
“Trump fends off criticism of ‘hoax’ remarks after first U.S. coronavirus death,” wrote the Guardian.
“Trump rallies his base to treat Coronavirus as a ‘hoax,’” charged Politico, which had its article tagged on Facebook as misleading after review from independent fact-checkers.
A responsible listening to Trump’s remarks, however, reveals Trump said no such thing. Trump was charging Democrats with politicizing the virus to score cheap points against the administration as they did with the Russia hoax and impeachment.
Here’s the video of the president’s comments in question:
If you are pushing the narrative that Trump called coronavirus a “hoax,” you’re lying.
It’s pretty obvious what he’s saying here. pic.twitter.com/RlSoJ8ZSb8
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) February 29, 2020
“Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus,” Trump complained.
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. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.”
Even some mainstream reporters have explained Trump wasn’t claiming coronavirus itself was a hoax.
“He was saying the hoax is that he’s handled it badly. Not the virus itself,” said Will Saletan, a national correspondent for the left-wing Slate.
Trump's use of "hoax" tonight (7:45 in this video) referred to what he said a minute earlier: "The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. … We did one of the great jobs."
He was saying the hoax is that he's handled it badly. Not the virus itself. https://t.co/m6GG7OMLvd
— Will Saletan (@saletan) February 29, 2020
“I heard it as him saying *Democrats’/media criticism of his handling of the virus* was their latest hoax,” wrote Daniel Dale, a reporter for CNN.
Trump left it ambiguous. In context, I heard it as him saying *Democrats’/media criticism of his handling of the virus* was their latest hoax. But if you were inclined to see the virus as a hoax, you could walk away thinking Trump agreed. https://t.co/3JpKvI9T3p
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 29, 2020
Trump’s comments during Friday night’s South Carolina rally, on the eve of the state’s primary, come as Democrats have argued the administration’s response to the outbreak has been lackluster. Meanwhile, House Democrats passed legislation Friday banning flavored tobacco products, including those used in e-cigarettes, while providing no supplemental funding to combat the coronavirus pandemic threat.