Trump's twisted torrent of testing comments
At the start of the outbreak, the Trump administration bungled its effort to get a broad-based testing regime in place for the new coronavirus. It has been playing catch-up ever since, and now the United States has conducted more than 5 million tests, more than any other country.
That would seem to be a good talking point for President Trump — and he has used it on a near-daily basis. But it also lacks important context, because what really matters is how many tests are performed per million people. The point of widespread testing is not just to count the patients, but to measure how quickly and widely the contagion is spreading.
Trump also keeps exaggerating the statistics or making claims that turn out to be incorrect. “Anyone who wants a test can get a test,” he said March 6, a statement so false it needed to be corrected the next day by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
We rounded up several of the worst offenders from Trump.
“We’ve tested more than every country combined.” Nope. Through April 28, the United States had conducted 5.9 million tests, according to Worldometer. The next five countries — Russia, Germany, Italy, Spain and United Arab Emirates — had conducted 10 million tests as of that date. The total for all non-U. S. countries is about 25 million.
“We inherited a very broken test.” Trump very often tries to deflect criticism by blaming the Obama administration. But this oft-repeated claim is both false and illogical. There were no tests for the novel coronavirus, which only emerged in China late in 2019, so new tests had to be developed.
For the full fact check, click here.
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The Postal Service (still) doesn’t lose money on deliveries
The U.S. Postal Service is losing money overall, primarily because email has slashed flat-mail volume and because Congress requires it to prepay pension and health benefits, which few entities do because the costs are enormous. Another problem is the USPS must charge the same price for first-class mail delivery anywhere in the country, no matter how remote.
Trump claimed: “The Postal Service is a joke because they’re handing out packages for Amazon and other Internet companies. And every time they bring a package, they lose money on it.”
He was wrong this week and he was wrong in 2018, when we first fact-checked his claim. Internet package deliveries are profitable for the Postal Service.
The USPS consistently says package delivery is a bright spot in its revenue picture, increasing every year. In 2017, Amazon noted that the Postal Regulatory Commission “has consistently found that Amazon’s contracts with the USPS are profitable.” (Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, separately owns The Washington Post as a personal investment via Nash Holdings, LLC.)
This time around, Trump received Four Pinocchios.
For the full fact check, click here.
The whole truth
We wrote a book! “Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth” will be published June 2 by Scribner. Over 386 pages, we excavate and debunk all of the president’s most egregious deceptions during his first three years in office, a period during which he made more than 16,000 false or misleading claims on everything from the economy, immigration, his campaign’s contacts with Russia, dealings with Ukraine that led to his impeachment, the administration's response to the covid-19 pandemic and more.
Kirkus gave the book a “starred” review, calling it “an extremely valuable chronicle.” “Most valuable, in this rather depressing catalog of untruths, are the fact checkers’ point-by-point analyses, lie by lie, of the relative falsehoods uttered, measured by ‘Pinocchios,’” Kirkus says. You can pre-order a copy at online booksellers.
We’re always looking for fact-check suggestions.
You can reach us via email, Twitter (@GlennKesslerWP, @rizzoTK, @mmkelly22, @SarahCahlan) or Facebook. Read about our process and rating scale here, and sign up for the newsletter here.
Scroll down for this week’s Pinocchio roundup.