Is Trump faking it so that he can pretend to have recovered and thus prove the virus isn’t dangerous? Or maybe he’s floating the story in order to divert attention away from his tax scandal or his chaotic debate performance. Or maybe the “deep state” deliberately infected Trump to undercut his reelection campaign. Or the White House is using this as an excuse to get out of the next debate.
So many exciting possibilities!
Watching the reactions to the Trump story got me thinking about our broader misinformation problem. These days, when something important or “newsy” happens, there’s an avalanche of content online that overwhelms people and leaves them less certain of what’s happening than before. In this case, we had a single news event — the president tested positive for the coronavirus — that set off a flood of disorienting bullshit bouncing around the information space.