Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden declared at Thursday’s CNN town hall that nobody would have died from the novel coronavirus if President Trump had “done his job,” a whopper that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper let slide.
“And if the president had done his job, had done his job from the beginning, all the people would still be alive,” Mr. Biden said at the town hall. “All the people — I’m not making this up, just look at the data. Look at the data.”
He was immediately challenged on social media by right-of-center commentators and fact-checks by news outlets, notably The Washington Post, which concluded, “Actually, Biden is making this up.”
“There is no data to support this, even if the president had moved rapidly in January to deal with the coronavirus and been able to persuade the Chinese leadership to be more forthcoming about the situation,” said the Post fact-check.
During the event, however, Mr. Cooper did not question Mr. Biden’s claim, a sharp contrast from Wednesday’s appearance by Mr. Trump with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, who repeatedly took issue with the president’s statements.
Mr. Cooper has made no secret of his anti-Trump views, while Mr. Stephanopoulos is a former Clinton White House communications director. Mr. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
CNN followed up with an online fact-check debunking five remarks made by Mr. Biden, such as his declaration that he would be the first president without an Ivy League degree, but did not dispute the “all the people would still be alive” statement.
A CNN fact-check of the ABC event said that Mr. Trump made 22 “false or misleading statements,” such as his claim that he placed a “ban” on travel from China, which CNN pointed out made exemptions for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
“[Mr. Trump] responded to a series of tough questions from Pennsylvania voters, and some more from moderator George Stephanopoulos, much like he responds to easy questions from his favorite conservative television hosts — with a barrage of dishonesty,” said CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale.
The CNN town hall held at PNC field in Moosic, Pennsylvania, was panned on the right for serving up softballs to Mr. Biden, with the conservative Media Research Center’s NewsBusters calling it a “cakewalk” versus the ABC “ambush” of Mr. Trump.
The novel coronavirus has killed more than 198,000 Americans and nearly 947,000 people worldwide since emerging from China late last year, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.