Trump Spent Thanksgiving Weekend on a Misinformation Spree

“The goal here is to confuse people, and he's doing very well at that. This is a classic propaganda tactic.”
November 30, 2020, 1:24pm
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, after stepping off Marine One (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, after stepping off Marine One (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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Unraveling viral disinformation and explaining where it came from, the harm it's causing, and what we should do about it.

Rather than taking time out to reflect on all that he was thankful for this year, President Donald Trump spent the weekend going deeper down the rigged election conspiracy rabbit hole, tweeting out dozens of patently false claims before ringing into Fox News to claim: “I came up with vaccines.”

By the end of the weekend, Twitter had labeled 24 of the 60 tweets and retweets the president posted since Friday as misinformation.

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During a Thanksgiving press conference in the White House — where he sat at a comically small desk — Trump appeared to suggest he was moving away from pushing baseless conspiracy theories about the election being rigged, when he said he would depart the White House without a fight if the Electoral College votes for Biden on Dec. 14.

“Certainly I will, and you know that,” Trump said, before repeating: ‘I will and, you know that."

But Trump, angered when media outlets reported these comments as some sort of admission of defeat, proceeded to spend the weekend boosting debunked conspiracy theories and making wild claims without providing a shred of evidence to back them up.

Trump boosted inaccurate reports from the highly-partisan One America News Network (OAN), claimed that “Big Tech and the Fake News Media have partnered to suppress” information about the election, and shared a strange video about lions attacking hyenas posted by White House social media director Dan Scavino.

Trump on Sunday evening also promised “big things” were coming in his campaign’s legal actions. But his effort to overturn the election he lost suffered yet another defeat on Friday when the federal appeals court in Philadelphia roundly rejected his team’s latest effort to challenge the state's presidential election result saying the “campaign’s claims have no merit.”

On Saturday night, Trump continued to criticize Fox News, suggesting his followers switch to Newsmax or OAN “or almost anything else. You won’t have to suffer through endless interviews with Democrats, and even worse.”

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But hours later, Trump tweeted out a promo for an interview he did with Fox News host Maria Bartiromo.

During the interview, Trump once again made baseless claims of election fraud and said he would “consider a special prosecutor” to investigate the election results. Bartiromo didn’t challenge Trump on any of his claims, which came without any evidence.

Seemingly tired of pushing election disinformation, Trump then tried to take credit for saving the world from the coronavirus. “I came up with vaccines,” Trump said, claiming the U.S. was doing better than the rest of the world when it comes to dealing with COVID-19.

Such a claim is entirely inaccurate: the U.S. is currently reporting over 100,000 new cases per day, hospitals across the country are overwhelmed by patients, and the country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, predicts the country may see “surge upon a surge” in the weeks after Thanksgiving.

Later on Sunday, Trump lashed out at an interview on 60 Minutes with Chris Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who was fired by Trump last week.

During the interview, Krebs was asked about the Trump campaign’s disinformation campaign. 

“What I saw was an apparent attempt to undermine confidence in the election, to confuse people, to scare people,” Kreb said.

Trump’s unrelenting efforts to undermine the integrity of the election are showing no signs of slowing down, and according to one expert, this is a tactic taken directly from the Kremlin’s playbook.

Trump is running a “classic Russian-style disinfo campaign,” known as the “firehose of falsehood,” Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, told CNN on Sunday. 

“Push out as many different stories and conspiracy theories and lies and half-truths as you possibly can,” Rauch said. “The goal here is to confuse people, and he's doing very well at that. This is a classic propaganda tactic.”