Snopes Oddly Rules 'MIXTURE' of Fact & Fiction on Trump Saying Coronavirus Was a 'Hoax'

March 4th, 2020 2:47 PM

President Trump never called the coronavirus a "hoax." He said trying to turn the coronavirus into the latest version of That Thing That Ruins Trump was a "hoax," like Russian collusion or Ukrainian election interference. In a February 28 rally in South Carolina, Trump was in mockery mode:

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.

Rem Rieder at called out people who've been suggesting Trump called the coronavirus a "hoax," explaining CBS correspondent Scott Pelley corrected Michael Bloomberg on air on 60 Minutes. So it was weird that the rating on this question a "Mixture." How on Earth it is "mixed"? Bethania Palma's post posited: 

What's True

During a Feb. 28, 2020, campaign rally in South Carolina, President Donald Trump likened the Democrats' criticism of his administration's response to the new coronavirus outbreak to their efforts to impeach him, saying "this is their new hoax." During the speech he also seemed to downplay the severity of the outbreak, comparing it to the common flu.

What's False

Despite creating some confusion with his remarks, Trump did not call the coronavirus itself a hoax.

"Downplaying the severity of the outbreak" is not at all the same as calling coronavirus a "hoax." Palma also wrote: 

In context, Trump did not say in the passage above that the virus itself was a hoax. He instead said that Democrats’ criticism of his administration’s response to it was a hoax. He muddied the waters a few minutes later, however, by comparing the number of coronavirus fatalities in the U.S. (none, at that point in time) to the number of fatalities during an average flu season, and accusing the press of being in “hysteria mode”...

"Fact checkers" shouldn't try to correct a statement  -- and then bizarrely turn it into a judgment of some "Mixture" of fact and fiction. The political force that's "muddying the waters" here is

That's too bad, since they've recently called out the Lindsey Graham Twitter hoax that so many liberals fell for (see Mollie Hemingway), and they went at least halfway and tagged Elizabeth Warren as "Unproven" for claiming she was fired from a teaching job for being pregnant.

They even noticed Joe Biden bizarrely claiming 150 million dead since 2007 in gun violence....although it wasn't Biden being "False," it was ruled "Correct Attribution" to everyone else who reported it. 

We have rated this Snopes fact check as "Half Baked," since the site can't just admit that Trump's critics are wrong. For more, see our Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers page.