Trump Was Single-Largest Driver Of COVID-19 Misinformation, Cornell Study Finds
President Donald Trump lies at the center of most misinformation surrounding COVID-19, according to a study from Cornell University which looked at 38 million articles about the coronavirus pandemic in English-language media internationally.
The study, released Thursday, found that Trump was mentioned in 38% of the entire “misinformation conversation,” making him the single-most influential driver of false information surrounding the pandemic.
“The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid,” said he study’s lead author and director of the Cornell Alliance for Science, Sarah Evanega. “That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”
The study found 11 topics of misinformation, including that the pandemic was a hoax created by Democrats to coincide with Trump’s impeachment trial, and that the initial outbreak began with people in Wuhan, China eating bat soup.
However, the largest topic of misinformation by far surrounded unproven cures, including those Trump promoted such as anti-malarial drugs, going out in the sun and consuming disinfectant — a comment he later walked back, claiming it was sarcastic.
Of 38 million articles published between Jan. 1 and May 26, over 1.1 million contained misinformation.
The study found that Trump drove up misinformation by touting fake miracle cures, such as when he promoted the idea of consuming disinfectants and using ultraviolet light to treat COVID-19. After his remarks, there were more than 30,000 articles published in one day that related to false cures — up from less than 10,000 only days prior.
Trump continues to bolster misinformation around miracle cures despite his positive test result. The president has began playing with potential miracle cures, taking an “experimental antibody cocktail,” it was reported on Friday.