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Trust Index: Fact-checking Harris’ claim that Trump called coronavirus ‘hoax’

Democratic VP candidate falsely attributed statement to POTUS

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., makes a point during the vice presidential debate with Vice President Mike PenceWednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Kingsbury Hall on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Patrick Semansky, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The global COVID-19 pandemic was the first topic discussed during the vice presidential debate Wednesday night and saw Democratic candidate Sen. Kamala Harris make an oft-repeated claim about President Donald Trump’s characterization of the pandemic.

“They didn’t tell you,” Harris said. "Can you imagine if you knew on Jan. 28 as opposed to March 13 what they knew? They knew, and they covered it up. The president said it was a ‘hoax.’”

While the president has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus, even after his own contraction of the disease, he never outright called it a hoax.

The word “hoax” has been employed by President Trump in relation to the pandemic, but the word was only used to describe the Democratic criticism of his administration’s pandemic response.

One example of the Biden campaign’s framing of Trump’s “hoax” comment came in a March 3 video posted to social media. An analysis of the video shows that it was cut together from footage of a Feb. 28 rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, to make it seem as though the president called the virus a hoax, but the comment was more directed at how the Trump administration’s response was viewed by Democrats, not the virus itself.

Because of that, the News4Jax Trust Index team is rating this claim by Harris as “Not True.”

Not True

After review, we've found this information is Not True.

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About the Author:

McLean is a reporter with WJXT, covering education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.