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Social Media Posters Use an Old Donald Trump Video to Make False Claims About the Avian Flu
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Social Media Posters Use an Old Donald Trump Video to Make False Claims About the Avian Flu

The video is real, but the former president was talking about the COVID pandemic.

Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at the Republican Party of Iowa 2023 Lincoln Dinner on July 28, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Did former President Donald Trump just warn that Democrats want to use a new strain of avian bird flu to reinstate lockdowns and steal the 2024 election? A number of viral social media posts on X (formerly Twitter) and Reddit claim that the presumptive Republican nominee said just that in a recent video.

The video of Trump has been posted dozens of times on Twitter since May 13 by prominent right-wing influencers. Most have described the video as “breaking news” related to a new strain of avian influenza, but some—including a number of commenters on Reddit—have claimed the video is false content generated by AI. “How can you ppl not tell the video looks fake?!” reads one comment. “This literally looks FAKE…” says another.

While AI is increasingly capable of mimicking speech and generating realistic video content, the video in question is real. But claims that Trump’s remarks are new or related to avian flu are incorrect. Trump published the original video almost nine months ago, but he made no reference to avian flu.

Trump and related campaign accounts posted the original video on August 30, 2023. In it Trump accuses Democrats of manufacturing COVID-19 hysteria to justify voting methods that will allow them to rig the 2024 election. Below are his comments in full:

“The left-wing lunatics are trying very hard to bring back COVID lockdowns and mandates with all of their sudden fear-mongering about the new variants that are coming. Gee whiz, you know what else is coming? An election. They want to restart the COVID hysteria so they can justify more lockdowns, more censorship, more illegal dropboxes, more mail-in ballots, and trillions of dollars in payoffs to their political allies heading into the 2024 election. Does that sound familiar? These are bad people. These are sick people. But to every COVID tyrant who wants to take away our freedom, hear these words: we will not comply, so don’t even think about it. We will not shut down our schools. We will not accept your lockdowns, we will not abide by your mask mandates, and we will not tolerate your vaccine mandates. They rigged the 2020 election and now they’re trying to do the same thing all over again by rigging the most important election in the history of our country, the 2024 election, even if it means trying to bring back COVID. But they will fail because we will not let it happen. When I’m back in the White House, I will use every available authority to cut federal funding to any school, college, airline, or public transportation system that imposes a mask mandate or a vaccine mandate. Thank you very much.”

Trump makes many false claims in the video: The 2020 election was not stolen, and it was Trump’s own administration that first recommended masking and lockdown restrictions in 2020. However, the claim that Trump was speaking about the avian flu is false and an attempt to peg old remarks to new events.

On April 1, 2024, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus—previously detected only once in the country—had been reported in an individual in Texas. While the CDC is actively monitoring cases in both humans and animals, it is not currently a threat to the general public and preventative measures are recommended only for individuals who have regular exposure to birds or other infected animals. According to a CDC resource on the virus, “detections of H5 viruses in wild birds, poultry, some mammals, and in two people in the United States do not change the risk to the general public’s health, which CDC considers to be low.” 

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.