Fact Check: Did Trump Call the Coronavirus a “Hoax?”

October 3, 2020

After it was revealed the President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, the months-old Democratic talking point that Trump had, himself, called COVID-19 a “hoax” quickly began to resurface.

People accusing President Trump of calling the virus a “hoax” and denying its existence were quick to point to a Snopes article, which classifies the claim as a “mixture” of true and false. Upon reading the text immediately following this rating, it should be clear to anyone that the claim is false.

The information is presented on Snopes as follows:

The post claims in the “What’s True” section that Trump did in fact use the word “hoax.” They provide a snippet of his quote, which says “this is their new hoax.” The snippet provides no other context. This is the quote in its entire context, as provided later in the article:

Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. You know that, right? Coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa, they can’t even count. No they can’t. They can’t count their votes.

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. But you know, we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We’re 15 people [cases of coronavirus infection] in this massive country. And because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could have had a lot more than that.

President Donald Trump

The very next line in the Snopes article after the citation of the quote in context reads: “In context, Trump did not say in the passage above that the virus itself was a hoax.” In addition, Snopes wrote in the “What’s False” section about the original statement: “Despite creating some confusion with his remarks, Trump did not call the coronavirus itself a hoax.”

The original claim, which Snopes is claiming is “a mixture of true and false” is stated: “Did President Trump Refer to the Coronavirus as a ‘Hoax’?” and in Snopes’ own quote, from the article, they say: “In context, Trump did not say in the passage above that the virus itself was a hoax.”

So why the “mixture of true and false?” Simply put, because in the age of wanting instant information right away, and according to numerous studies, most Americans will only read news headlines, assume they are true, and not bother to research further detail.

Snopes is gambling on the fact that, since people who rely on partisan talking points for their online arguments don’t often do much of or any actual research of their own, that this type of user wouldn’t get past the initial “mixture” icon, only focus on the green text, and run with it. This sounds far fetched, but after the President announced he and the First Lady had tested positive for COVID-19, social media was rife with comments making fun of the President for calling the virus a hoax.

Surprisingly, several news outlets were quick to re-release stories stating the truth, including the BBC. Even CNN has had to admit that the claim is false. Twitter, who is openly anti-Trump, also published a story stating Trump never called the virus a hoax. Yet other sites continue to push the false narrative that Trump actually called the virus a hoax, like The Guardian and WION News keep the lie going.