It’s troubling to see how quickly disinformation about the government’s response to the coronavirus has spread. Democrats and the mainstream media have willingly spread false information in the hopes of damaging Trump politically before the election in November. Many of these lies were quickly debunked, but that hasn’t stopped the false information from being repeated over and over. The left hopes these lies will continue to spread, but so far it doesn’t seem to be working since Trump’s approval numbers for his handling of the pandemic have gone up. But that doesn’t mean the left will give up their disinformation campaign. To help set the record straight, I’ve compiled the top ten lies that have been spread about Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. There are certainly plenty more, and you are welcome to mention them in the comments.
10. Trump downplayed the mortality rate of the coronavirus
In early March, the World Health Organization said that 3.4 percent of coronavirus patients had died from the disease. “Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 (the disease spread by the virus) cases have died,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing. “By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected.”
Trump said this number was false, as the mortality rate was actually much less because their number didn’t take into account unreported cases. In an interview with Sean Hannity on March 4, Trump challenged WHO’s number. “Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number,” Trump said, asserting that the actual mortality rate is “way under 1 percent.”
Yet, there were so-called experts who greatly overestimated the mortality rate in order to spark fear and panic. MSNBC contributor Dr. Joseph Fair told a panel that up to 20 percent of the U.S. population might die from the coronavirus.
9. Trump lied when he said Google was developing a national coronavirus website
When President Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency, he announced that Google was developing a website to direct people to coronavirus testing locations nationwide.
“I want to thank Google. Google is helping to develop a website, it’s going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location,” Trump said during a press conference.
Google confirmed this in a tweet after Trump’s remarks, but the media seemed intent on calling Trump’s claim false. HuffPost literally called Trump’s claim a lie because the site was actually being developed by a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. This ultimately forced Google to confirm, again, that they were partnering with the federal government to develop a national coronavirus website. “Google is partnering with the US Government in developing a nationwide website that includes information about COVID-19 symptoms, risk and testing information,” Google said on Twitter.
After Google backed up Trump, he thanked them and ripped the media for spreading fake news. “I want to thank the people at Google and Google communications because as you know they substantiated what I said on Friday,” Trump said. “The head of Google, who is a great gentleman, called us and he apologized. I don’t know where the press got their fake news, but they got it someplace. As you know, this is from Google. They put out a release and you guys can figure it out yourselves and how that got out. And I’m sure you guys will apologize, but it would be great if we could get really give the news correctly. It’d be so, so wonderful.”
8. Trump “dissolved” the WH pandemic response office
Two days after Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency, the Washington Post ran an opinion piece by Elizabeth Cameron, who ran the White House pandemic office under Obama, alleging that Trump had dissolved the office in 2018. She claimed because of this, “the federal government’s slow response to the coronavirus isn’t a surprise.”
This claim spread like wildfire, even though it was completely false. Days after WaPo ran the piece, they published another article by Tim Morrison, former senior director for counterproliferation and biodefense on the National Security Council, who debunked the allegation made by Cameron and other former Obama administration officials.
Direct, factual refutation of claim that the President disbanded his pandemic response team by the NSC official who led the biodefense mission.
The falsehood was widely reported and even stated as a fact by an NBC reporter in a question to the President. https://t.co/qTwfTfD0Mf
— John Noonan (@noonanjo) March 16, 2020
What good is there in spreading false information, as Elizabeth Cameron did? “This is Washington. It’s an election year,” Morrison laments. “Officials out of power want back into power after November. But the middle of a worldwide health emergency is not the time to be making tendentious accusations.”
7. Trump ignored early intel briefings on possible pandemic
The Washington Post again was the source of another bogus claim when they reported that intelligence agencies warned about a possible pandemic back in January and February and that Trump “failed to take action that might have slowed the spread of the pathogen.”
It was fake news. The Trump administration had begun aggressively addressing the coronavirus threat immediately after China reported the discovery of the coronavirus to the World Health Organization. In addition to implementing various precautionary travel restrictions, the administration fast-tracked the use of testing kits, set up a Coronavirus Task Force, and implemented a travel ban with China, several weeks before WHO declared the coronavirus a pandemic.
In actuality, it was Trump’s critics who weren’t taking the coronavirus situation seriously. Joe Biden even accused Trump of “fearmongering” and “xenophobia” for his travel ban. Even now, the Washington Post is suggesting the travel ban wasn’t enough.
6. Trump cut funding to the CDC & NIH
Back in February both Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg (who hadn’t dropped out of the Democratic primary yet) accused President Trump of cutting funding to critical health agencies during a primary debate. “There’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing. And he’s defunded — he’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC, so we don’t have the organization we need. This is a very serious thing,” Bloomberg claimed.
The Obama-Biden administration “increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget. … He’s wiped all that out. … He cut the funding for the entire effort,” Biden claimed.
They were both wrong.
According to an Associated Press fact-check, proposed budget cuts never happened, and funding increased. They acknowledged that some public health experts believe that a bigger concern than White House budgets “is the steady erosion of a CDC grant program for state and local public health emergency preparedness,” but, they note, “that decline was set in motion by a congressional budget measure that predates Trump.”
The AP also noted that “The public health system has a playbook to follow for pandemic preparation — regardless of who’s president or whether specific instructions are coming from the White House. Those plans were put into place in anticipation of another flu pandemic, but are designed to work for any respiratory-borne disease.”
5. Trump “muzzled” Dr. Fauci
In late February, the New York Times claimed that the Trump administration had “muzzled” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), by preventing him from speaking publicly about the coronavirus without approval from the administration.
It wasn’t true. But, the claim was echoed throughout the mainstream media, and ultimately was brought up in a press briefing, and Trump was asked directly about it, and he let Dr. Fauci clear it up.
“I’ve never been muzzled, ever, and I’ve been doing this since Reagan,” he said. “I’m not being muzzled by this administration.”
Despite the fact this claim was debunked, Joe Biden kept repeating it as if it were true. “And, look, right now you have this president, hasn’t allowed his scientists to speak, number one,” Biden said on ABC’s This Week a couple days after Fauci said unequivocally he wasn’t being muzzled. “He has the vice president speaking, not the scientists who know what they’re talking about, like Fauci.”
Joe Biden just touted the debunked talking point that President Trump had muzzled Doctor Fauci form discussing the coronavirus.
This is what Fauci had to say about that claim yesterday:
"I’ve never been muzzled ever and I’ve been doing this since…Reagan."
ROLL THE TAPE! pic.twitter.com/1HAcLl3qes
— Francis Brennan (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@FrancisBrennan) March 1, 2020
4. Trump didn’t act quickly and isn’t doing enough
If you listen to Democrats, Trump didn’t act quickly enough and is botching the government response. Joe Biden has tried to perpetuate this falsehood by giving press briefings telling Trump what he should be doing.
The big problem with that is that when Biden has offered his own plan, he simply took things that Trump had already done, said he should do those things, and pretended they were his own ideas.
In addition to this, one of the most significant actions taken by Trump, the travel ban with China, was actually opposed by Joe Biden, and Trump’s critics on the left. Unfortunately for them, WHO experts admitted Trump’s actions saved lives in the United States.
Fox News contributor Liz Peek noted back in February, “Even before a single case of the virus erupted organically in our country […] and even as the administration had acted preemptively and effectively to keep virus carriers out of our country, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and others were eager to stoke fear and blame Donald Trump.”
Dr. Ronny Jackson, who served as White House physician from 2013 to 2018, also credited Trump for his decisive response to the coronavirus epidemic. “The president has done everything he needed to do in this case,” he said. “He’s acted quickly and decisively. He did what he always has done … he went with his instincts.”
Jackson added, “What’s going on in Italy and Iran is not going to happen here I think, because of the president’s quick and decisive actions. I think we are going to be more in line with what’s going on in South Korea and things of that nature.”
3. Trump told governors they were “on their own”
In a tweet sent last week, New York Times editorial board member Mara Gay claimed that during a conference call with governors about the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump told them they were “on their own” in getting the equipment they need. “‘Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,’ Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times.”
She lied. Ms. Gay deliberately misrepresented Trump’s words. Trump actually told governors on the call: “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves. We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”
The false narrative that Trump had told governors they were on their own, essentially to expect no help from the federal government, spread like wildfire.
2. Trump turned down testing kits from WHO
A Politico hit piece from early March claimed that the World Health Organization offered the United States coronavirus testing kits, but Trump refused to accept them. This claim spread quickly, and Joe Biden even alluded to it during his March 15 debate with Bernie Sanders, claiming, “The World Health Organization offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them. We did not want to buy them.”
It wasn’t true. “No discussions occurred between WHO and CDC about WHO providing COVID-19 tests to the United States,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris explained. “This is consistent with experience since the United States does not ordinarily rely on WHO for reagents or diagnostic tests because of sufficient domestic capacity.” According to WHO, its priority was to send testing kits to “countries with the weakest health systems.”
So, why did testing get off to a slow start in the United States? Ellie Bufkin at our sister site Townhall noted that “Testing in the United States was fraught with difficulty in large part due to the slow approval by the Food and Drug Administration to allow testing kits developed by private companies outside of the government-controlled CDC to be used at a local or national level. Those FDA policies are consistent with the Obama Administration’s response to H1N1 and Ebola in 2009 and 2014 respectively.”
1. Trump called the coronavirus “a hoax”
To this day the left (and the media) claim Trump called the coronavirus a hoax. He said no such thing. While the country was distracted by impeachment, the Trump administration was busy addressing the coronavirus outbreak, taking various measures to limit the spread of the virus in the United States. Impeachment quickly faded, so they decided to aggressively politicize his response to the coronavirus outbreak. Joe Biden even called Trump’s travel ban with China an overreaction, and accused him of trying to scare the public. “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia ± hysterical xenophobia — and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science.”
President Trump responded to these allegations during a rally in South Carolina, calling the Democrats’ politicization of the coronavirus “the new hoax.” The media jumped on this line, claiming that Trump called the virus, not the Democrats’ reactions to it, a hoax. The lie spread like wildfire and Joe Biden even used the lie as a talking point on the stump. There was quite a stir when Politico’s story repeating the false claim that Trump called the virus a hoax was flagged by Facebook fact-checkers as fake news, but other fact-checkers couldn’t deny that the claim was false either.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis