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The novel coronavirus has claimed more than 100,000 lives in the U.S. since February 29th and continues to spread as some states loosen shutdown restrictions. From the announcement of the first confirmed case in the U.S. on Jan. 21, Trump and his team’s messaging on the crisis has evolved. However, a constant in the rhetoric has been an attempt to recast the administration’s actions in fighting the pandemic. Their version of the story illustrates a successful — and often inaccurate — picture of the response.
The Trump team’s online posts reach millions of followers on Facebook and Twitter. The campaign has also been collecting voter data for the past four years through digital tools, like online polls, email listervs and rally registration forms. The Trump campaign has spent $32.6 million on Facebook ads since January of 2019, more than doubling presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s Facebook ad spending.
The Fact Checker analyzed thousands of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube posts and ads from Trump, his campaign and a long list of surrogates. The data revealed the backbone of a five-point strategy to tell their version of the coronavirus story: re-writing mistakes, highlighting achievements, deflecting blame, declaring victory and creating distraction.