A misleading February 28 clip of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden purportedly downplaying coronavirus, promoted by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and Fox News, originated with a Hannity “exclusive” report that omitted key parts of Biden’s comment.
The latest dishonest spin from the Fox-Trump feedback loop comes as Trump is under intense criticism for admitting to deliberately downplaying COVID-19 during interviews with journalist Bob Woodward recorded in February -- publicly telling Americans that it was comparable to the flu and would just go away, while he privately knew it was “deadly,” airborne, and highly contagious. Trump told Woodward and, later, the public that this was to avoid creating panic.
On September 9, Sean Hannity began his 9 p.m. Fox show by saying he had “exclusively now uncovered video of Joe Biden downplaying the coronavirus one month after the president’s travel ban, and of course, well, over a month after the first identified case of corona in America.”
Three minutes later, Hannity played the “brand new bombshell video” again, and about one hour later, the Trump reelection campaign shared an even more decontextualized version of the same Biden clip on Twitter. However, as The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler noted, the Trump campaign clip omitted relevant parts of Biden’s comment (which were also omitted by Hannity):
“Folks, Trump thought that his upbeat tweets could somehow stop the coronavirus. Well, I have news for Donald Trump. Like the rest of us, this virus is not impressed by his tweets....I'm being very deadly earnest about this. We need real action in the White House, not more lies.”
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) September 10, 2020
The following morning, the first hour of Fox & Friends First aired Hannity’s slightly longer but still misleading clip -- however, the second hour featured an even shorter edit of his comments. The clip then made it into a Fox News montage of Democrats allegedly downplaying coronavirus, as aired twice on Fox & Friends, and once more on the “straight news” show America’s Newsroom.