Repeat after me: Trump never suggested people inject themselves with bleach.
The media, desperate to help defeat Trump in the 2020 election, didn’t care that Trump never said such a thing, and decided to create the narrative that he had, and then ran countless stories about it.
But it never happened.
The false claim originated from the following exchange during the White House Coronavirus Task Force Briefing a year ago today. Possible COVID-19 treatments were discussed, including UV light treatments, and Trump said, “And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.”
As PJM’s Tyler O’Neil noted at the time, “Trump wasn’t telling people to drink or inject bleach — he was asking whether or not it would be possible to clean inside the body with a similar disinfectant. He also insisted, ‘you’re going to have to use medical doctors with’ any such practice. In other words, ‘don’t try this at home, kids.’”
But there’s more. Later in the same briefing, a reporter asked the acting undersecretary of science and technology for the Department of Homeland Security, Bill Bryan, “The president mentioned the idea of cleaners, like bleach and isopropyl alcohol you mentioned. There’s no scenario that could be injected into a person, is there?”
It was Trump who replied, “It wouldn’t be through injection. We’re talking about through almost a cleaning, sterilization of an area. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work. But it certainly has a big effect if it’s on a stationary object.”
It was a reporter who actually connected bleach to injections, not Trump.
As the above exchange makes clear, Trump clearly corrected the reporter. Did that stop the media from running with the idea that Trump said people should inject themselves with bleach?
“Trump unquestionably is unfit to serve as president. He endangers every American,” tweeted MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner. “Most directly, he endangers his supporters, many of whom either believe the virus is a hoax (prompting them to engage in dangerous behavior) or now that injecting/ingesting disinfectants is in order.”
And the stories just poured in. Starting with the false premise that Trump suggested Americans inject themselves with bleach or Lysol, various media outlets sought out doctors and experts to explain why that would be a bad idea.
“‘It’s irresponsible and it’s dangerous’: Experts rip Trump’s idea of injecting disinfectant to treat COVID-19,” reported NBC News. “Trump comments prompt doctors, and Lysol, to warn against injecting disinfectants” read the headline at The Washington Post. The Guardian ran with the headline “Donald Trump’s prescription for coronavirus: quite literally toxic.” Time magazine similarly ran a story titled, “Experts Warn Against Inhaling Bleach After Trump Comments.”
Again, repeat after me: Trump never suggested people inject themselves with bleach.
It’s been a year now, and the media is still holding onto this lie. “One year ago today, President Donald Trump took to the White House briefing room and encouraged his top health officials to study the injection of bleach into the human body as a means of fighting Covid,” claims Politico. “It’s Been Exactly 1 Year Since The Most Insane Moment Of The Trump Presidency” reads a headline at HuffPost.
By now most people have heard the expression that “a lie repeated a thousand times becomes truth,” or any number of its variations. That’s exactly what happened with this story, and so many others, during Trump’s presidency.