Study Finds That Trump Is Single Largest Driver Of Coronavirus Misinformation

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour / Public Domain


The study found that mentions of President Trump comprised nearly 38% of the overall "misinformation conversation."

A new study from Cornell University found that President Donald Trump has been the single largest driver of coronavirus misinformation flooding media coverage of the pandemic, according to The New York Times.

  • Researchers “analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world,” The Times reported.

Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic.

The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media.

  • Sarah Evanega, the director of the Cornell Alliance for Science and the study’s lead author, said the results were surprising: “The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid. That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”
  • The most prevalent topic of misinformation among the 11 the study examined was “miracle cures,” which included “Mr. Trump’s promotion of anti-malarial drugs and disinfectants as potential treatments for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.”
  • The study “found that of the more than 38 million articles published from Jan. 1 to May 26, more than 1.1 million — or slightly less than 3 percent — contained misinformation,” The Times reported.
  • Trump was responsible in April for a sharp rise in reporting that fell into the “miracle cures” category.

For example, on April 24, a day after Mr. Trump floated — and was ridiculed for — the idea that disinfectants and ultraviolet light might treat Covid-19, there were more than 30,000 articles in the “miracle cures” category, up from fewer than 10,000 only days earlier. Mr. Trump drove those increases, the study found.

To those who have been watching Mr. Trump’s statements, the idea that he is responsible for spreading or amplifying misinformation might not come as a huge shock. The president has also been feeding disinformation campaigns around the presidential election and mail-in voting that Russian actors have amplified — and his own government has tried to stop.

Read the full report.


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