Monday, May 18, 2020


So this happened over the weekend:
Eric Trump claimed Saturday that the coronavirus will “magically” vanish after the November election and allow the country to fully reopen — an assertion that has no basis in science and is contradicted by health experts worldwide.

In an interview with Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro, Trump suggested the president’s critics were using the pandemic to undermine his father’s rallies, calling it a “cognizant strategy” that would cease once it was no longer politically expedient.

“You watch, they’ll milk it every single day between now and November 3," the younger Trump said. "And guess what, after November 3, coronavirus will magically, all of a sudden, go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.” ...

"They think they’re taking away Donald Trump’s greatest tool, which is being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time,” he said.
I'm sure much of the media believes that this is a fringe idea, and while it's deeply regrettable that a president's son would endorse it, surely there are very few ordinary Americans who think the entire crisis is a hoax. Right?

Or maybe we've learned something since the early days of birtherism. There was a time when that, too, was seen as just a fringe idea. Then Public Policy Polling, which liked to add a cheeky question or two to its surveys, asked about birtherism in a 2011 poll, and got this response:
Birthers make a majority among those voters who say they're likely to participate in a Republican primary next year. 51% say they don't think Barack Obama was born in the United States to just 28% who firmly believe that he was and 21% who are unsure.
The usually astute Dave Weigel scoffed:
Does that mean that 72 percent of Republicans think Obama should be disqualified from the presidency? No. It suggests that birtherism has become another screen for extreme partisanship.
But poll after poll revealed that Republicans were serious about this. In 2016:
Seventy-two percent of registered Republican voters still doubt President Obama’s citizenship, according to a recent NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll conducted in late June and early July of more than 1,700 registered voters. And this skepticism even exists among Republicans high in political knowledge.
And 2017:
Survey results released by YouGov Friday show that 51 percent of Republicans said they think former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya.... Perhaps unsurprisingly, respondents who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election were especially convinced of Obama's African origins: Fully 57 percent said it was "definitely true" or "probably true" that the 44th president came from Kenya.
By that time, we'd made the most famous birther in America our president.

Is anyone polling coronavirus conspiracy theories? If so, I'm not aware of it.

I think we should know how fact-challenged and susceptible to misinformation (and disinforation) our Republican fellow citizens are. I'd like someone to poll a few nutball ideas:
The coronavirus is no worse than the typical seasonal flu.

Flu deaths are strictly and accurately measured, while the death toll from the coronavirus is wildly inflated. If you die in a car crash and you test positive for the coronavirus, doctors classify that as a coronavirus death.

The coronavirus was developed in a lab in order to engineer the defeat of Donald Trump in 2020.

The coronavirus was developed in a lab so that Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci, and the World Health Organization can profit from the vaccine.
And yes, also Eric Trump's notion.

I assume that at least a third of Republican voters, and probably far more, would rate all of these notions as "definitely true" or "probably true."

We should find out. We should know what the supporters of our dominant political party really believe.

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