March 4, 2020 / 1:00 PM / in a month

False headline: "Trump declares his rallies are safe-zones from coronavirus outbreak"

Shared over 2,000 times as of March 3, 2020, a post (here) on a page called "Donald Trump Is Not My President" claims, "Trump Declares His Rallies Are Safe-Zones From Coronavirus Outbreak: 'I Think It's Very Safe.'" This is a misleading headline.

The post links to an article on a website called "The Guardians of Democracy" (here). Embedded in the article is a clip tweeted by MSNBC on March 2, 2020 (here) in which a reporter, referring to the outbreak of coronavirus, asks, "Is it safe or appropriate to be holding rallies during a public health crisis like this?" The president answers, "Well, these were set up a long time ago, and others are [holding rallies]. You could ask that to the Democrats because they're having a lot of rallies. They're all having rallies, that's what they're doing, they're campaigning." When the reporter follows up by asking if he thinks doing so is safe, Trump answers, "I think it's very safe." Not at any point during this exchange does the President declare his rallies "safe-zones from [the] coronavirus outbreak", imply that any sort of zones exist around rallies, or suggest that his rallies are somehow safer than any other rallies. His remark: “I think it’s very safe” appears to refer to the holding of rallies of any political leaning and can be reasonably understood as an overall assessment of the risk of holding public gatherings at that particular point in time.

The photo included in the post shows President Trump at a campaign rally in Minneapolis on October 10, 2019 (www.c-span.org/video/?464823-1/president-trump-holds-rally-minneapolis-minnesota), more than two months before the COVID-19 outbreak began in Wuhan, China (here).

As reported by Reuters (here), Trump said on March 2, 2020 that his administration had asked drug companies to speed up their work on developing a vaccine for COVID-19. On February 26, 2020, he announced that he had placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the U.S. response to the outbreak (here), and said that the U.S. would spend "whatever is appropriate" to deal with the disease.

VERDICT

False headline: Trump did not declare his rallies “safe-zones” from the coronavirus outbreak but rather expressed the view that it was “very safe” to hold rallies in general at that time.

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