'I don't think I'm fake news': Fox News' Chris Wallace and Trump spar over misleading claims about US coronavirus death rates

Screenshot via Fox NewsPresident Donald Trump being interviewed by the Fox News host Chris Wallace.
  • President Donald Trump sparred with the “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace over COVID-19 mortality in the US, leading Trump to accuse Wallace of being “fake news.”
  • In the interview, Trump falsely claimed that the US had “one of the lowest mortality rates in the world” from COVID-19.
  • Wallace, however, cited Johns Hopkins University data that showed the US ranking poorly.
  • “I hope you show the scenario because this is what fake news is all about,” Trump said, to which Wallace countered, “I don’t think I’m fake news.”
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President Donald Trump and the “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace sparred over COVID-19 mortality in the US, leading Trump to accuse Wallace of being “fake news.”

In the new interview, which aired Sunday morning, Wallace pushed back on Trump’s assertions that the US had some of the lowest COVID-19 mortality in the world.

Trump lamented why more attention wasn’t being paid to Mexico’s high numbers of COVID-19 cases and claimed, without evidence, that portions of walls and fences along the US-Mexico border were helping stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Our mortality rate is higher than Brazil, it’s higher than Russia, and the European Union has us on a travel ban,” Wallace said, citing Johns Hopkins University data.

“Yeah. I think what we’ll do – well, we have them under travel ban too, Chris,” Trump responded. “I closed them off. If you remember – I was the one that did the European Union very early. But when you talk about mortality rates, I think it’s the opposite. I think we have one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.”

“It’s not true, sir,” Wallace countered. “We had 900 deaths on a single day this week – you can check it out.”

Trump then beckoned the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, to bring him a chart purportedly showing the US having a “No. 1 low mortality rate.”

“I hope you show the scenario because this is what fake news is all about,” Trump said.

“I don’t think I’m fake news,” Wallace countered.

Data from Johns Hopkins University, which Wallace cited, lists 20 countries as “currently most affected by COVID-19 worldwide.” Of those, the US ranked seventh-worst with a 3.8% case-fatality ratio – the percentage of deaths out of known cases.

In terms of mortality rate, calculated as deaths per 100,000 people in a country, the US ranked third-worst, with 42.8 deaths per 100,000 people, above just the UK and Chile.

The chart the White House presented, however, used data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control that excluded countries with lower mortality rates, like Russia, to make it appear as if the US had one of the lowest death rates in the world.

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