New Delhi: After news broke in the wee hours of October 2 that United States President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19, social media was quickly awash with conspiracy theories from both right- and left-wing users. Throughout October 2, ‘hoax’ trended on US Twitter. Most of the claims, of course, are as misleading as the statements Trump himself has made about coronavirus over the past eight months.
That the president is clearly symptomatic, having now been hospitalised at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, is unlikely to calm the hoaxers, given the secrecy surrounding Trump’s past health check-up at the same military-run hospital. In fact, this was ‘predicted’ before Trump even fell ill. And if you think it’s only ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’ making these kinds of posts, the distrust goes much ‘higher’. Here, follow some of the ‘standouts’.
1. Donald Trump is faking his coronavirus diagnosis
There are lakhs of posts about this but the most prominent among those claiming Trump was faking his coronavirus-positive diagnosis is left-wing activist and documentary film-maker Michael Moore. On his Facebook page on October 2, Moore claimed, “There is one absolute truth about Trump: He is a consistent, absolute, unrelenting, fearless, and professional liar.… Trump has a history of lying about his health… He may have it. But it’s also possible he’s lying. That’s just a fact.”
Moore went on to claim that Trump badly needed to change the conversation after a string of bad press, particular about the president’s tax returns, and may use his illness to “push for delaying/postponing the election” – something which by even Moore’s admission is not possible under the US constitution – or use his illness as an excuse for losing.
Others on Twitter variously claimed the president is faking his diagnosis to “milk quarantine for all it’s worth” to improve his favourability ratings, or avoid facing Joe Biden in another presidential election debate.
2. Donald Trump wants to promote hydroxychloroquine
One US citizen who was ‘awoken in 2016’ claimed “…I think he didn’t test positive and just said so. He will then show miraculous “recovery” to say, “See? Nothing to it!” Or take Hydroxychloraquine [sic] to boost sales…”
But the IgNobel award for science must go to John Cammo, who predicted a whole two weeks before Trump tested positive that “Trump’s October surprise will be the announcement of “his infection.” Fake, but quite dramatic…. Then, 14 days later, Trump will emerge, 100% cured by hydroxychloroquine.”
The blame for these claims should probably go to Trump, who has regularly promoted the drug and said he had used it himself.
3. Trump wants VP Mike Pence to become president so the latter can pardon Trump
To be fair to the following fine people, this conspiracy theory was first pushed by Trump’s own former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who claimed earlier in September that Trump would “arrange to be federally indicted”, then pardon himself if he loses the presidential election. This of course lit many fires online after the president fell ill.
‘Under the rules of succession, if Trump becomes incapacitated Pence takes control and is sworn in to assume the presidential role. I would anticipate per their preconceived plan, that Pence would grant a presidential pardon to Trump. Helluva welcome back gift for Trump’
‘WHAT if Trump’s strategy is to use getting sick from COVID as an excuse to cease running for a second term, hoping Pence can win in his place, having negotiated a Presidential Pardon from Pence in return for dropping out of the race, to be granted right after Pence takes office… And maybe, just maybe, Trump decided to roll the dice and deliberately contract COVID to accomplish this ruse. After all, his other choice ends in prison eventually’
‘I would not rule out: 1. Trump using COVID as a way for Pence to pardon him, and after POTUS’s miraculous recovery, he resumes Presidency. 2. Trump lying about diagnosis for same goal’
Except, there are no convictions as yet for which a presumed President Pence can pardon Trump. Remember what Cohen said?
4. Trump purposely got infected so that he can grandly announce a new coronavirus vaccine just before the election
‘Just wait. He’s going to have it, be sick, recover and then BAM!! Just before the election…..a vaccine!!! On another note, did I just become a conspiracy theorist?? Only in 2020’
‘Timing is suspect. Mike Pence announced a vaccine within weeks. Now Trump and Melania are positive for Covid-19. Will they get the vaccine? October surprise?’
‘OCTOBER SURPRISE= Trump’s promised Covid vaccine “miraculously cures” him. (Translation:…. Bogus positive Covid test result)’
6. Trump purposely infected Biden during the presidential debate
This theory has gained a lot more hot air after presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace revealed that President Trump arrived too late to the September 29 debate to get tested and co-hosts Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University decided to use “the honour system”, meaning they allowed people arriving late from both campaigns to claim that they had already tested negative. While it is indeed fascinating that they decided to believe a man who has repeatedly spread misinformation about the coronavirus, there is a big difference between reckless behaviour and intentionally endangering someone.
‘[Donald Trump] is a very stable genius. He knew he had Covid and went to the debate anyway. He infected Biden and now Biden’s going to die. Ultimate power move’
‘This is obviously an assassination attempt on Biden from team trump. They Knowingly went to that debate full of germs to Purposely infect Biden, knowing that at Bidens age covid could be fatal. Arrest them for attempted murder’
‘We the educated Americans know it’s Biden’s mask wearing that stopped Trump trying to infect him at the debate’
7. Joe Biden purposely infected Trump during the presidential debate on September 29
‘We all knew Biden would find a way to weasel out of the debates. I guess we now know how. They infected Trump. In all the time he went without a mask he was fine. Now he was carefully wearing masks…and he got sick. proves masks help nothing, though’
‘We know that you worked with China on this virus and that they gave you an antidote. You probably infected Trump and his bride at the debate. He will overcome because Trump was heaven sent’
‘Biden has tested positive for a long time but he keeps it a secret. In that debate, Biden infected Trump. Ask Biden to test!!! This is why Biden never holds rallies, and always wears a mask. We should Punish China for China Virus. Arrest ANTIFA’
8. The last word goes to…
@mets_therapy: ‘Conspiracy Theory: Maybe there’s a new radical middle that was trying to infect both Trump and Biden at the debate.’