‘Largest Spreader’ Of Disinformation? Title Goes To Trump, Studies Find
The source of many of the fake claims and bad information online about critical topics like the coronavirus pandemic and voter safety is the president of the United States, two recent studies conclude.
From COVID-19 To Voting: Trump Is Nation's Single Largest Spreader Of Disinformation, Studies Say
Is President Trump the nation’s chief disinformation officer? Controversial posts concerning COVID-19 on Monday in which the president tells the public "Don’t let it dominate you" and "Don’t be afraid of it" and claims he may have immunity to the deadly virus have heightened public criticism of Trump for spreading dangerous falsehoods. “There is no doubt that Donald Trump is the largest spreader of specific and important types of misinformation today,” said Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab. (Guynn, 10/5)
Trump Is A Super-Spreader Of Disinformation
A super-spreader—a term we didn’t much use nine months ago—is a person with a contagious disease who gives it to a lot of other people. In the coronavirus pandemic, super-spreaders have played an outsize role. Scientists have identified super-spreaders who have infected dozens of people with the virus, while others with the illness haven’t infected anyone at all. Super-spreaders may explain why the coronavirus seems to take over so quickly in some places, but not in others. We don’t know yet whether President Donald Trump was a super-spreader of the coronavirus or the victim of one, perhaps at the Rose Garden event for the Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, where few wore masks and many shook hands; perhaps while he was preparing to debate. But Trump has been a super-spreader in a different sense for many, many years—a super-spreader of disinformation. (Applebaum, 10/3)
In related news —
Mary Trump Says Trump Family Saw Illness As 'Unforgivable Weakness'
Attitude about illness is looming large over the president's coronavirus treatment. White House physician Sean Connelly said on Sunday that he didn't initially disclose that the president was given oxygen on Friday, despite multiple questions about it from reporters, because he was trying to "reflect the upbeat attitude" of the president. Trump's estranged niece, Mary Trump, says members of the Trump family have viewed illness as "a display of unforgivable weakness." (Silva, 10/4)
The World's Hottest Spy Target: Trump's Health
President Donald Trump's doctors won’t say when he last tested negative. They won’t reveal details of how his lungs are functioning, why he was prescribed advanced treatments usually reserved for severe Covid-19 cases, how high his fever soared or just how low his oxygen levels dipped. As the White House brushes aside questions about just how serious the president’s bout with the lethal virus really got, America’s enemies are poised to fill the information void, former and current U.S. national security officials are warning. (Seligman and Bertrand, 10/5)