Yes, Trump Did Call COVID A “Democratic Hoax” — Or At Least, Heavily Implied It
From time to time, it’s very easy to feel like Winston Smith trying to restore everyone’s collective memory. Theirs’s a common pattern among infamous Trump statements: Once it’s ripped apart, he finds some way, any way, it could have actually been true.
You might remember his infamous “very fine people” quote after the United The Right Rally back in August 2017. Of course, three years after that rally and nobody has been able to show proof these “very fine people” we hear so much about that were just protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee ever existed. But if you think by “very fine people” he meant the Nazis and White Nationalists he clearly condemned and not some other mystical group, you’re insane.
We saw this with his “condemning” of white nationalism during the first debate with Biden. White nationalists like Richard Spencer, David Duke, and Andrew Anglin didn’t feel condemned — Anglin even took Trump’s statement as a call to action for white nationalists.
Still, the people who want us to be nice to Trump are telling us that we should just give him the benefit of the doubt. Leading to the biggest lie about a lie of the Trump administration, that he never called COVID-19 a “democrat hoax.” The BBC even ran a story just yesterday — as have Snopes, Politifacts, and even Associated Press.
Here’s what he objectively said on 2/28/2020:
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’d 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.
Now tell me, what was Trump’s argument for the Russian Collusion argument being a hoax? It was that Russian Collusion never happened — applying this to COVID-19 and we can safely assume the President said COVID-19 doesn’t exist.
Many of the fact checks promise that if we just look at the paragraph before this comment things all make sense. Well here’s what Trump said just before regarding this hoax:
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.
However, taking this to mean anything besides Trump knows the term “politicizing” sounds negative is still a bit of a leap. It sounds more like he’s calling the Democrats idiots for criticizing him over his handling of a hoax then anything else, truth be told.
Still, some like to point towards this quote from the next day as evidence Trump didn’t mean what he clearly meant:
Hoax referring to the action that they take to try and pin this on somebody, because we’ve done such a good job. The hoax is on them, not — I’m not talking about what’s happening here. I’m talking what they’re doing. That’s the hoax.
Ignoring the “we’ve done a great job thing,” what does your gut tell you? That Donald Trump was really talking about claims regarding a virus most thought was just the flu, or that he was calling the virus we all thought was just the flu a hoax?
Remember, it just being the seasonal flu — a statement which is accurate in terms of mortality but not in terms of how contagious it is — was a commonly expressed sentiment by people on both sides of the political spectrum. On 2/29/2020 — the day after Trump made his now infamous comments — Washington state declared a State of Emergency in response to the first case being documented. It took until 3/19/2020 for California Governor Gavin Newsom to implement the first stay at home order in the nation. The same day Trump announced a travel ban between the US and China, USAToday ran a story saying COVID-19 and the flu were basically the same.
Some have claimed he was calling the politicization of COVID a hoax — but what does that even mean? Is it world leaders responding to it that was the hoax? Is it the idea that policy is being crafted in response to the virus a hoax? If it’s that his leadership had been a failure, I must wonder what leadership he had the chance to do considering, once again, nobody besides a handful of doctors took the virus to be anything besides another strain of the flu. Any attempts to deal with the virus were called racist (Italy’s “hug a Chinese” day anyone?) — what leadership could he have shown?
To put it bluntly, no, I do not believe the rationalizations and rewriting of history the White House has given us, and nobody should either.