Trump’s campaign is trying to remove a video in which he appears to call the coronavirus a ‘hoax,’ saying it’s misleading

  • President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has issued a cease-and-desist letter to television stations that aired what his campaign called a “patently false, misleading, and deceptive” advertisement by a political action committee.
  • The opening of the video appeared to take Trump’s comments out of context, though other remarks in the video did show Trump downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak.
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President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has issued a cease-and-desist letter to television stations that aired what the campaign calls a “patently false, misleading, and deceptive” advertisement by a political action committee.

A video created by Priorities USA Action, a PAC that has supported Democratic presidential candidates, showed a chart of coronavirus cases that rose as Trump’s past comments downplaying the virus played in the background.

The letter took issue in particular with the opening of the video, which stitched together Trump saying the phrases “the coronavirus” and “this is their new hoax.”

“PUSA stitched together fragments from multiple speeches by President Trump to fraudulently and maliciously imply that President Trump called the coronavirus outbreak a ‘hoax,'” the letter said, adding that Trump was “abundantly clear” in referring to the “Democrat’s politicization of the coronavirus outbreak” when making the description.

“Because PUSA’s ad’s central point is deliberately false and misleading, your station has an obligation to cease and desist from airing it immediately to comply with FCC licensing requirements, to serve the public interest, and to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation,” the letter added.

The Washington Post previously did a fact-check of an ad by former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign that made a similar juxtaposition. It featured clips of Trump at a campaign rally in late February saying “coronavirus” and “this is their new hoax” that were edited to make it seem as if he said the words together.

The full quote as transcribed by The Post is below (emphasis ours):

“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?’, ‘Oh, nothing, nothing.’ 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 he 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 have 15 people 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.”

While that particular juxtaposition appears to be misleading, Trump and his administration did repeatedly downplay the coronavirus and delivered mixed messages about the seriousness of the pandemic before the White House issued its 15-day coronavirus-isolation guidelines. More recently, Trump has said he’d like to reopen businesses by Easter, an idea public-health professionals have warned against.

At least 1,050 people in the US had died from the new coronavirus as of early Thursday morning.

“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Trump tweeted on February 24. “We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart.”

About 69,000 cases have been reported in all 50 states as well as some US territories and Washington, DC. The federal government’s response has also been criticized for not heeding earlier warnings from US officials and for the lack of available equipment around the country for healthcare professionals.