The rumor that President Trump had referred to the Wuhan coronavirus as a "hoax" at the outset of the outbreak was debunked several weeks ago, by several different outlets. But Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was determined to keep the false narrative alive on CNN this weekend.
"We're hearing it every step of the way from this administration," Ocasio-Cortez said on Sunday's "State of the Union." "First we're hearing it was a hoax. Then we were hearing that everything was fine."
No, we weren't actually hearing it. The full context of Trump's "hoax" remarks reveal that he was referring to Democrats who were trying to turn the outbreak into another partisan game. But for some reason, Jake Tapper let AOC roll with it. He would later suggest on Twitter that he didn't fact check his guest in real-time because she was right in some regard.
I thought about it, because the president did not call the virus a hoax.— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 22, 2020
But i didn’t because he *did* call a hoax the concerns of those saying that the response from the president was insufficient and that he was downplaying the gravity of the crisis. And that too was a lie. https://t.co/MdPeulQpZ1
But that's not what she was referring to. And more than one Twitter user accused Tapper of relying too much on nuance.
Democrats have made other false accusations about the Trump administration's response to the health crisis, even suggesting that Trump cut funding to the CDC. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) recently put that rumor to bed. While true that Trump has proposed cuts, over the last five years funding for the likes of the CDC, NIH and other important health agencies have increased.
President Trump became increasingly frustrated with the White House press last week as he and his coronavirus task force provided daily briefings to the American people. All week the press seemed more interested in asking Trump whether it was racist to call the disease a "Chinese virus." On Friday, Trump snapped at NBC News's Peter Alexander after Alexander repeatedly pressed him on what he would say to people who are frightened by the virus. Trump called him a "terrible reporter" who was sensationalizing and trying to scare the American people.
"I think it’s a very nasty question and I think it’s a very bad signal that you’re putting out to the American people," Trump told him. "The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope."