That Viral Lindsey Graham Quote Saying Trump Knows More About Viruses Than Scientists Is Fake


Lindsey Graham
US Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, waves as he attends a Keep America Great campaign rally for US President Donald Trump at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina, February 28, 2020.
Saul Loeb/Getty

A viral quote attributed to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is not real.

The fake quote, which has Graham stating that President Donald Trump knows more about viruses than scientists, gained traction on Twitter last week. However, the quote was posted by satirical author Dan Lyons, whose Twitter bio reads, “aka Fake Steve, inventor of fake news.”

“CAPITOL HILL: @LindseyGrahamSC says @realDonaldTrump “probably knows more about medicine and specifically viruses than any of the so-called scientists at the NIH [National Institute of Health] and CDC [Centers for Disease Control]. If anyone is going to eradicate this plague it’ll be the president,” Lyons wrote.

On Sunday, historian and author Kevin Kruse retweeted the quote, informing people that it is not real.

“This is fake. Stop retweeting this account please,” Kruse wrote as a reply to Lyon’s tweet.

Parker Molloy, editor at large for Media Matters, also chimed in on the false claim, writing, “the replies to Kevin’s tweet, pointing out that the quote (which a lot of people seem to be sharing as if it were real) is fake, and depressing.”

Newsweek was unable to find any evidence of Graham saying this. The fact-checking site, Snopes, also came up empty in their investigation.

However, Graham released a statement on February 26, discussing Trump’s response to the coronavirus, which has infected over 89,000 people in at least 61 countries and killed over 3,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

“I appreciate President Trump’s determination and leadership and his administration’s efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus and keep our country safe,” Graham said in a statement posted to his website.

Though the quote was posted by an account known for its satirical content, this is not the first time a prominent political figure has been falsely accused of saying something detrimental.

A recent viral post on Facebook, detailing a tax plan proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is also fake. The post, which has since been deleted, claimed that Sanders’ Medicare for All plan would place a 52 percent tax on earnings for anyone making $29,000 or more. However, Sanders has never suggested implementing this kind of tax on that income bracket.

Instead of the fake plan posted on Facebook, Sanders’ actual plan proposes an income tax of 40 percent for Americans making between $250,000 and $500,000 per year, 45 percent for those making between $500,000 and $2 million and 50 percent for those earning between $2 million and $10 million. The 52 percent tax rate would apply to income above $10 million.

Individuals making between $9,525 – $38,700 would be taxed at the current rate of 12 percent under his tax plan.

The post about Sanders’ tax plan was flagged by Facebook in an effort to stop the spread of fake news and misinformation.

In October 2019, Trump was also the subject of a fake quote that went viral. At the time, he was accused of referring to the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, as “President Mozzarella.” The claims began after a press conference was held between Trump and Mattarella. After the press conference, many claimed Trump mispronounced Mattarella’s name and instead said “President Mozzarella,” but according to Snopes, there was no evidence showing this mispronunciation.

In June 2018, former President Barack Obama was also falsely accused of making comments about Trump.

“If we don’t do something about this president, I will,” Obama was cited to have said while speaking at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. The quote gained traction across social media, but was determined to be false by Snopes.

In addition to Snopes’ investigation, Time published a report on Obama’s speech at the DNC fundraiser, noting that he made subtle references to his distaste for the current administration, but never mentioned Trump by name.

“If you are one of these folks who is watching cable news at your cocktail parties with your friends and you are saying ‘civilization is collapsing’ and you are nervous and worried, but that is not where you are putting all your time, energy and money, then either you don’t actually think civilization is collapsing…or you are not pushing yourself hard enough and I would push harder,” Obama said during the DNC fundraiser, according to CNN.


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