Waaaay back on March 27, I stuck in my file drawer of “Stuff to Be Blogged About” the Coronavirus Hoax narrative. The President started selling this campaign rallies back in long-ago February. In those rallies, he was pitching the coronavirus as the Democrats’ new hoax to replace the impeachment hoax. He wasn’t actually calling the virus fake–he was using it as a political attack. See this Snopes post for the legalistic parsing of his rally rhetoric.
But Trump’s very familiar with hoax narratives and is quite experienced at spreading them. Here’s one of his global-warming-is-a-hoax claims:
There’s many more. He was also a ringleader of the Obama-is-a-Kenyan-Muslim hoax. I often call him the Birther-in-Chief.
Anyone familiar with his hoaxer past would have to suspect that he launched this coroanvirus scam narrative in order to get this image on the Faux News Network and out to his millions of followers that way.
Ron Paul, always ready to help spread right-wing nuttery, weighed in too.
At the White House level, the hoax narrative didn’t last long. By March 16, the White House had started putting out its own guidelines–initially a “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign, and now extended to 30 days. It’ll be more like. . .June, I think. Anyway, everyone in the political press noticed the White House’s frantic attempts at a rewrite.
It’s worth noticing that the stock market had two huge drops between the launch of the hoax narrative and the White House change in tone: March 9th and March 12th. It crashed even further on the 16th.
But once you launch a hoax narrative out into the politicized ether, you can’t just turn it off. Some of your followers keep spouting it. Others use it as an excuse to justify inaction. Still others use it to attack science. Hoaxes have consequences. In this case,the consequences are delayed state-level responses to the virus spread, lives jeopardized and lost needlessly, and a prolonged economic catastrophe .