News & Politics

Fake News: Paper Claims Trump Almost Tweeted That Tom Hanks Died, Issues Embarrassing Correction

President Donald Trump speaks at the Latino Coalition Legislative Summit at the JW Marriott, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

When American actor Tom Hanks was discharged from an Australian hospital as he recovered from the disease caused by the coronavirus, President Donald Trump was on the verge of tweeting that Hanks had actually died, according to the Brisbane, Australia, paper The Courier-Mail. The paper originally reported that diplomatic staff saved Trump from making an embarrassing mistake.

Yet not long afterward, the paper was forced to make an embarrassing correction. Diplomatic staff had not actually told the Courier-Mail that Trump had his finger on the “tweet” button before they heroically stopped him from making this mistake. No, the staff had only said they were afraid the president might have tweeted that.

BusinessInsider ran the story and later added this correction:

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Trump had to be stopped from tweeting that Hanks had died. In fact, it was Trump’s diplomatic officials who were afraid he might have tweeted that, based on their confusion about what “discharged” meant, according to the Courier-Mail report. The officials, once armed with the correct information, saved Trump from making a mistake, the paper said.

Apparently, some White House staff misunderstood what it meant that Hanks had been “discharged” from the hospital. Officials feared Trump was preparing to tweet about Tom Hanks before Australia-based U.S. Embassy officials contacted the Australian health authorities and confirmed that the actor was, in fact, still alive.

“It turns out that the President nearly exaggerated Tom Hanks’ death,” a source told the paper. It appears that the source was exaggerating the story.

The president seems to tweet fast and loose, but it strains credulity to think he would interpret Tom Hanks’ discharge to mean the actor had died. Of course, to media figures anxious to paint Trump in a bad light, any embarrassing story coming from the White House seems not just likely but certain.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.