(USA Features) The 2020 Trump campaign has filed a defamation lawsuit against a local NBC affiliate for airing what it says is a deceptive political advertisement claiming President Donald Trump called the coronavirus a “hoax.”
The ad was produced by super PAC Priorities USA, which the complaint identified as a “far-left” group.
“The advertisement, entitled ‘Exponential Threat,’ does not just contain false and defamatory statements about President Trump—it is far more insidious and, ultimately, far more dangerous,” the complaint said.
In naming the defendant as Wisconsin-based WJFW-NBC, the complaint alleges: “The advertisement was produced through the use of digital technology by taking audio clips from Trump Campaign events and piecing those clips together to manufacture a blatantly false statement that was never said by President Trump: ‘The coronavirus, this is their new hoax.’”
Further, the campaign states in the complaint that the “deceitful alteration of the audio” made it seem as though the word “this” uttered by Trump referred to the virus, while it “instead refers directly to the Democrats’ politicization of the pandemic.”
The words “The coronavirus—this is their new hoax,” identified in the complaint, came from a Trump rally in North Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 28.Multiple fact-checkers, including Snopes and Politifact, which provided the full context of the president’s remarks, have noted that allegations he called the virus a hoax are false.
“Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus, you know that right? Coronavirus, they’re politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, ‘How’s President Trump doing?’ They go, ‘Oh, not good, not good.’ They have no clue. They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa. They can’t even count. No, they can’t. They can’t count their votes,” Trump said at the rally.
“One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. ‘That was not a perfect conversation.’ They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They’d been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax,” he said.
The day after the rally, after being asked about his comments by media, Trump explained in a press conference: “I’m not talking about what’s happening here; I’m talking what they’re doing,” he said, referring to Democrats. “That’s the hoax.”