| March 22, 2020 02:17 PM
A Washington Post reporter has apologized for and deleted a tweet in which she falsely claimed President Trump called the coronavirus a “hoax” during a recent campaign rally.
“My apologies for quoting the president out of context,” said Amber Phillips, a reporter for the Post’s “The Fix” political blogging team. “As The Washington Post’s Fact Checker makes clear, he called Democrats politicizing coronavirus a hoax. I have deleted the incorrect tweet.”
Phillips shared a link to the Post’s recent fact check of a new ad for Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, which accuses Trump of downplaying the dangers of the virus.
The fact check found the ad was selectively edited to show Trump at a campaign rally in South Carolina saying the word “coronavirus” and then cut to him saying, “This is their new hoax.”
Here is the full transcript from Trump’s rally, which the Post provided:
“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.”
“The full quote shows Trump is criticizing Democratic talking points and the media’s coverage of his administration’s response to coronavirus,” the fact check reads. “He never says that the virus itself is a hoax, and although the Biden camp included the word “their,” the edit does not make clear to whom or what Trump is referring.”
In a now-deleted tweet, Phillips claimed Trump called the threat of the virus itself a “hoax,” despite getting regular briefings about the global pandemic as early as January.
This Washington Post reporter is spreading a lie previously debunked by at least 5 different independent fact checkers, including her own paper.
POTUS never called the coronavirus a hoax!
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) March 21, 2020
Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign seized on Phillips’s error, highlighting it as “a lie” debunked by multiple fact-checkers.
“This Washington Post reporter is spreading a lie previously debunked by at least 5 different independent fact checkers, including her own paper,” the campaign said. “POTUS never called the coronavirus a hoax!”
More than 26,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the United States, leading to at least 340 deaths as of Sunday morning.