In the Atlantic article below, they have continued to propagate falsehoods in a deeply dishonest attempt to attack the President’s credibility as our national leader in the middle of a crisis affecting the entire country, indeed, the world. Lies will be highlighted and truth explained in red.
All the President’s Lies About the Coronavirus
Editor’s Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here.
Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET on April 9, 2020.
In the month since he declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, President Donald Trump has repeatedly lied about this once-in-a-generation crisis.
Here, a collection of the biggest lies he’s told as the nation barrels toward a public-health and economic calamity. This post will be updated as needed.
On the Nature of the Virus
When: Friday, February 7, and Wednesday, February 19
The claim: The coronavirus would weaken “when we get into April, in the warmer weather—that has a very negative effect on that, and that type of a virus.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: It’s too early to tell if the virus’s spread will be dampened by warmer conditions. Respiratory viruses can be seasonal, but the World Health Organization says that the new coronavirus “can be transmitted in ALL AREAS, including areas with hot and humid weather.”
GVM Editor: The President did not lie. The Atlantic lied. Trump was expressing an opinion, supported by medical experts that viruses tend to die out in warmer weather.
When: Thursday, February 27
The claim: The outbreak would be temporary: “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned days later that he was concerned that “as the next week or two or three go by, we’re going to see a lot more community-related cases.”
GVM Editor: The President did not lie. The Atlantic lied again. Trump was expressing the hope that this virus would fade away and disappear. It may be called unrealistic, but that’s hardly a lie.
When: Multiple times
The claim: If the economic shutdown continues, deaths by suicide “definitely would be in far greater numbers than the numbers that we’re talking about” for COVID-19 deaths.
The Atlantic’s Opinion: The White House now estimates that anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 Americans could die from COVID-19. Other estimates have placed the number at 1.1 million to 1.2 million. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. But the number of people who died by suicide in 2017, for example, was roughly 47,000, nowhere near the COVID-19 estimates. Estimates of the mental-health toll of the Great Recession are mixed. A 2014 study tied more than 10,000 suicides in Europe and North America to the financial crisis. But a larger analysis in 2017 found that while the rate of suicide was increasing in the United States, the increase could not be directly tied to the recession and was attributable to broader socioeconomic conditions predating the downturn.
GVM Editor: The writers at the Atlantic must have missed the last week. Official estimates of the death toll from Covid-19 are now 60,000 and falling. The numbers quotes by the Atlantic were based on faulty modeling that have been revised and publicized for more than a week. The Atlantic lied.
Blaming the Obama Administration
When: Wednesday, March 4
The claim: The Trump White House rolled back Food and Drug Administration regulations that limited the kind of laboratory tests states could run and how they could conduct them. “The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing,” Trump said.
The Atlantic’s opninion: The Obama administration drafted, but never implemented, changes to rules that regulate laboratory tests run by states. Trump’s policy change relaxed an FDA requirement that would have forced private labs to wait for FDA authorization to conduct their own, non-CDC-approved coronavirus tests.
GVM Editor: The President isn’t even quoted here. Only the vague and unattributed “Trump Whitehouse”. Who?
When: Friday, March 13
The claim: The Obama White House’s response to the H1N1 pandemic was “a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: Barack Obama declared a public-health emergency two weeks after the first U.S. cases of H1N1 were reported, in California. (Trump declared a national emergency more than seven weeks after the first domestic COVID-19 case was reported, in Washington State.) While testing is a problem now, it wasn’t back in 2009. The challenge then was vaccine development: Production was delayed and the vaccine wasn’t distributed until the outbreak was already waning.
GVM Editor: The President isn’t quoted here either. Only the vague and unattributed “Trump Whitehouse”. At best, this accusation is disingenuous because the first US case of Covid-19 came BEFORE it was confirmed that Human-to-Human transmission was occurring.
When: Multiple times
The claim: The Trump White House “inherited” a “broken,” “bad,” and “obsolete” test for the coronavirus.
The Atlantic’s opinion: The novel coronavirus did not exist in humans during the Obama administration. Public-health experts agree that, because of that fact, the CDC could not have produced a test, and thus a new test had to be developed this year.
GVM Editor: The President isn’t even quoted here once again. The thrust of the meaning of the unattributed statement is that the system in place to respond to this kind of virus emergency was wholly inadequate.
On Coronavirus Testing
When: Friday, March 6
The claim: “Anybody that needs a test, gets a test. We—they’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: The country’s testing capabilities are severely limited. Many states have experienced a lack of testing kits, as my colleagues Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer have reported. Trump made this claim one day after his own vice president, Mike Pence, admitted that “we don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”
GVM Editor: The President isn’t lying here, but the Atlantic is! The President’s meaning hinges on how one defines the phrase, “anyone that needs a test.” Only those suspected of Covid-19 with a sufficient number of symptoms were deemed to “need” a test. That need was established by health officials, not the President.
When: Wednesday, March 11
The claim: In an Oval Office address, Trump said that private-health-insurance companies had “agreed to waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments, and to prevent surprise medical billing.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: Insurers agreed only to absorb the cost of coronavirus testing—waiving co-pays and deductibles for getting the test. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the second coronavirus-relief bill passed by Congress, later mandated that COVID-19 testing be made free. The federal government has not required insurance companies to cover follow-up treatments, though some providers announced in late March that they will pay for treatments. The costs of other non-coronavirus testing or treatment incurred by patients who have COVID-19 or are trying to get a diagnosis aren’t waived either. And as for surprise medical billing? Mitigating it would require the cooperation of insurers, doctors, and hospitals.
GVM Editor: The Atlantic again is spreading fake news. Where in this statement by the White House can it be said that the President is lying? It appears the Atlantic is making efforts to stretch the definition of what the word “lie” actually means.
When: Friday, March 13
The claim: Google engineers are building a website to help Americans determine whether they need testing for the coronavirus and to direct them to their nearest testing site.
The Atlantic’s opinion: The announcement was news to Google itself—the website Trump (and other administration officials) described was actually being built by Verily, a division of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. The Verge first reported on Trump’s error, citing a Google representative who confirmed that Verily was working on a “triage website” with limited coverage for the San Francisco Bay Area. But since then, Google has pivoted to fulfill Trump’s public proclamation, saying it would speed up the development of a new, separate website while Verily worked on finishing its project, The Washington Post reported.
GVM Editor: This is a familiar pattern by now as I hope the reader is noticing. Verily is a division of Alphabet as is Google. Imprecisely attributing the company building the website isn’t a lie. The pattern by the Atlantic is clear. They assume any inaccuracy is a lie. That’s agenda driven journalism.
When: Tuesday, March 24, and Wednesday, March 25
The claim: The United States has outpaced South Korea’s COVID-19 testing: “We’re going up proportionally very rapidly,” Trump said during a Fox News town hall.
The Atlantic’s opinion: When the president made this claim, testing in the U.S. was severely lagging behind that in South Korea. As of March 25, South Korea had conducted about five times as many tests as a proportion of its population relative to the United States. For updated data from each country, see the COVID-19 Tracking Project and the database maintained by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
GVM Editor: Again, the Atlantic has to use qualifying language in order to stretch Trump’s imprecision into a “lie.” Trump never qualified his claim as the Atlantic did with “population relative to the United States.” By not qualifying it, it’s reasonable to believe Trump was referring to the absolute number of tests done. Notice how the Atlantic never bothered making that point. Again, agenda driven reporting.
On Travel Bans and Travelers
When: Wednesday, March 11
The claim: The United States would suspend “all travel from Europe, except the United Kingdom, for the next 30 days,” Trump announced in an Oval Office address.
The Atlantic’s opinion: The travel restriction would not apply to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, or their families returning from Europe. At first, it applied specifically to the 26 European countries that make up the Schengen Area, not all of Europe. Trump later announced the inclusion of the United Kingdom and Ireland in the ban.
GVM Editor: Again, the Atlantic has to use qualifying language in order to stretch Trump’s imprecision into a “lie.” At best, one could criticize the President fairly by saying his travel ban announcement should have been more detailed, but a lie? Nonsense!
Another claim: In the same address, Trump said the travel restrictions would “not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo but various other things as we get approval.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: Trump followed up in a tweet, explaining that trade and cargo would not be subject to the restrictions.
GVM Editor: The Atlantic in this situation chose to characterize an error made in good faith, as a “lie.”
When: Thursday, March 12
The claim: All U.S. citizens arriving from Europe would be subject to medical screening, COVID-19 testing, and quarantine if necessary. “If an American is coming back or anybody is coming back, we’re testing,” Trump said. “We have a tremendous testing setup where people coming in have to be tested … We’re not putting them on planes if it shows positive, but if they do come here, we’re quarantining.”
The Atllantic’s opinion: Testing is already severely limited in the United States. It is not true that all Americans returning to the country are being tested, nor that anyone is being forced to quarantine, CNN has reported.
GVM Editor: This is a case of CNN lying and the Atlantic swearing to it. Two agenda driven, partisan news outlets. Nevertheless, the President was referring to people being tested who showed symptoms.
When: Tuesday, March 31
The claim: “We stopped all of Europe” with a travel ban. “We started with certain parts of Italy, and then all of Italy. Then we saw Spain. Then I said, ‘Stop Europe; let’s stop Europe. We have to stop them from coming here.’”
The Atlantic’s opinion: The travel ban applied to the Schengen Area, as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland, and not all of Europe as he claimed. Additionally, Trump is wrong about the United States rolling out a piecemeal ban. The State Department did issue advisories in late February cautioning Americans against travel to the Lombardy region of Italy before issuing a general “Do Not Travel” warning on March 19. But the U.S. never placed individual bans on Italy and Spain.
GVM Editor: If the reader is finding this all rather repetitive, it is. It is also a damned shame that fake news outlets like the Atlantic
When: Multiple times
The claim: “Everybody thought I was wrong” about implementing restrictions on travelers from China, and “most people felt they should not close it down—that we shouldn’t close down to China.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: While the WHO did say it opposed travel bans on China generally, Trump’s own top health officials have made clear that the travel ban was the “uniform” recommendation of the Department of Health and Human Services. Fauci and Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the coronavirus task force, both praised the decision too.
GVM Editor: This kind of trash from the Atlantic is really disgusting. The Atlantic and practically every major news outlet condemned Trump’s halting of China travel as “racist and xenophobic.” Now, the Atlantic is pretending Trump was referring to his advisers and not the media when he said “Everybody thought I was wrong.” Such dishonesty is disgraceful.
On Taking the Pandemic Seriously
When: Tuesday, March 17
The claim: “I’ve always known this is a real—this is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic … I’ve always viewed it as very serious.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: Trump has repeatedly downplayed the significance of COVID-19 as outbreaks began stateside. From calling criticism of his handling of the virus a “hoax,” to comparing the coronavirus to a common flu, to worrying about letting sick Americans off cruise ships because they would increase the number of confirmed cases, Trump has used his public statements to send mixed messages and sow doubt about the outbreak’s seriousness.
GVM Editor: This one is a widespread media lie. Trump never called the coronavirus a “hoax”. When he used that term, it was in reference to characterizing his response to the virus as racist and xenophobic.
When: Thursday, March 26
The claim: This kind of pandemic “was something nobody thought could happen … Nobody would have ever thought a thing like this could have happened.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: Experts both inside and outside the federal government sounded the alarm many times in the past decade about the potential for a devastating global pandemic, as my colleague Uri Friedman has reported. Two years ago, my colleague Ed Yong explored the legacy of Ebola outbreaks—including the devastating 2014 epidemic—to evaluate how ready the U.S. was for a pandemic. Ebola hardly impacted America—but it revealed how unprepared the country was.
GVM Editor: Another example of Trump being simply and innocently wrong about something and having it called a lie by leftist guttersnipes.
On COVID-19 Treatments and Vaccines
When: Monday, March 2
The claim: Pharmaceutical companies are going “to have vaccines, I think, relatively soon.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: The president’s own experts told him during a White House meeting with pharmaceutical leaders earlier that same day that a vaccine could take a year to 18 months to develop. In response, he said he would prefer if it took only a few months. He later claimed, at a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, that a vaccine would be ready “soon.”
GVM Editor: Notice how the leftists at the Atlantic choose to interpret imprecise language like “relatively soon”, a phrase in this context that has no real discernable meaning, except perhaps, relative to the development of other vaccines. In that case, the President would be correct because getting a vaccine in 18 months is, to quote Dr. Fauci, “lightening fast.” Many vaccines take several years. And in the case of an RNA Corona virus, even longer since there has never been a vaccine developed for any RNA virus of any kind.
When: Thursday, March 19
The claim: At a press briefing with his coronavirus task force, Trump said the FDA had approved the antimalarial drug chloroquine to treat COVID-19. “Normally the FDA would take a long time to approve something like that, and it’s—it was approved very, very quickly and it’s now approved by prescription,” he said.
The Atlantic’s opinion: FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, who was at the briefing, quickly clarified that the drug still had to be tested in a clinical setting. An FDA representative later told Bloomberg that the drug has not been approved for COVID-19 use, though a doctor could still prescribe it for that purpose. Later that same day, Fauci told CNN that there is no “magic drug” to cure COVID-19: “Today, there are no proven safe and effective therapies for the coronavirus.”
GVM Editor: The Atlantic is wrong. The FDA did approve HCQ to be used on Covid-19 patients. Trump didn’t lie here either. Here again, he was simply imprecise with his terminology. That’s not lying.
On the Defense Production Act
When: Friday, March 20
The claim: Trump twice said during a task-force briefing that he had invoked the Defense Production Act, a Korean War–era law that enables the federal government to order private industry to produce certain items and materials for national use. He also said the federal government was already using its authority under the law: “We have a lot of people working very hard to do ventilators and various other things.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor told CNN on March 22 that the president has not actually used the DPA to order private companies to produce anything. Shortly after that, Trump backtracked, saying that he had not compelled private companies to take action. Then, on March 24, Gaynor told CNN that FEMA plans to use the DPA to allocate 60,000 test kits. Trump tweeted afterward that the DPA would not be used.
GVM Editor: Again, the Atlantic refers to imprecise language as a “lie.” The game the Atlantic is playing here, very clearly, is reading the worst possible motivations into every word out of President Trump’s mouth.
When: Saturday, March 21
The claim: Automobile companies that have volunteered to manufacture medical equipment, such as ventilators, are “making them right now.”
The truth: Ford and General Motors, which Trump mentioned at a task-force briefing the same day, announced earlier in March that they had halted all factory production in North America and were likely months away from beginning production of ventilators, representatives told the Associated Press. Since then, Ford CEO James Hackett told CNN that the auto company will begin to work with 3M to produce respirators and with General Electric to assemble ventilators. GM said it will explore the possibility of producing ventilators in an Indiana factory. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose company Trump highlighted in a tweet, has said that the company is “working on ventilators” but that they cannot be produced “instantly.”
GVM Editor: Imprecise language is not a lie.
On States’ Resources
When: Tuesday, March 24
The claim: Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York passed on an opportunity to purchase 16,000 ventilators at a low cost in 2015, Trump said during the Fox News town hall.
The Atlantic’s opinion: Trump seems to have gleaned this claim from a Gateway Pundit article. That piece, in turn, cites a syndicated column from Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, which includes a figure close to 16,000. The number comes from a 2015 report from the state’s health department that provided guidance for how New York could handle a possible flu pandemic. The report notes that the state would need 15,783 more ventilators than it had at the time to aid patients during “an influenza pandemic on the scale of the 1918 pandemic.” The report does not include a recommendation to Cuomo for additional purchases or stockpiling. Trump “obviously didn’t read the document he’s citing,” a Cuomo representative said in a statement.
GVM Editor: The Atlantic is lying here. The point Trump was making was that Cuomo knew NY state was short on ventilators. He had that information, but never acted on it. The point is, the governor of New York should not have been surprised by being caught short ventilators.
Another claim: Trump also repeated a claim from the Gateway Pundit article that Cuomo’s office established “death panels” and “lotteries” as part of the state’s pandemic response.
The Atlantic’s opinon: The 2015 report and the accompanying press release announced updated guidelines for hospitals to follow to allocate ventilators. The guidelines “call for a triage officer or triage committee to determine who receives or continues to receive ventilator therapy” and describes how a random lottery allocation might work. (Neither should be the first options for deciding care, the report notes.) Cuomo never established a lottery.
GVM Editor: Whether the Atlantic wishes to believe it or not, the editors at Great Vocal Majority have heard first hand witnesses in NY recount stories of how doctors in certain Long Island nursing homes deciding not to treat the elderly at all. In effect, letting them die.
When: Sunday, March 29
The claim: Trump “didn’t say” that governors do not need all the medical equipment they are requesting from the federal government. And he “didn’t say” that governors should be more appreciative of the help.
The Atlantic’s opinion: The president told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday, March 26, that “a lot of equipment’s being asked for that I don’t think they’ll need,” referring to requests from the governors of Michigan, New York, and Washington. He also said, during a Friday, March 27, task-force briefing, that he wanted state leaders “to be appreciative … We’ve done a great job.” He added that he wasn’t talking about himself, but about others within the federal government working to combat the pandemic.
GVM Editor: Clearly, the President was referring to Gov Cuomo complaining the 4,000 ventilators he was getting were inadequate when he called for 30,000. The President said he didn’t believe Cuomo would need that many and as it turned out, the President was correct. So, where is the lie?
When: Sunday, March 29, and Monday, March 30
The claim: Hospitals are reporting an artificially inflated need for masks and equipment, items that might be “going out the back door,” Trump said on two separate days. He also said he was not talking about hoarding: “I think maybe it’s worse than hoarding.”
The Atlantic’s opinion: There is no evidence to show that hospitals are maliciously hoarding or inflating their need for masks and personal protective equipment when reporting shortages in supplies. Although Cuomo reported anecdotal stories of thefts from hospitals early in March, he was referring to opportunists trying to price-gouge early in the pandemic. Reuters has reported a handful of stories of nurses hiding masks to conserve supplies amid shortages, but not wide-scale thefts as Trump claimed.
GVM Editor: Trump wasn’t lying here either. There were situations where the distribution of needed PPEs were not delivered in a timely manner to hospital facilities. Futhermore, there were a number of cases where PPEs and other supplies were hoarded by black market operators. The President wasn’t lying. He was suspicious that the supplies weren’t getting to where they were supposed to go.