President Donald Trump shared a shocking accusation on air against New York governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday that turned out to be a headline pulled straight from rightwing conspiracy site Gateway Pundit.
Trump, who has publicly been at odds with Cuomo about the responsibility of the federal government during the coronavirus outbreak, appeared on Fox News during a two-hour town hall on the pandemic. During the telecast, Trump grabbed a piece of paper and rattled off the headline: “NY Gov. Cuomo Rejected Buying Recommended 16,000 Ventilators in 2015 for Pandemic, Established Death Panels and Lottery Instead.”
That Gateway Pundit piece, published Sunday, relied on a Friday column by former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey. McCaughey’s post stated that in 2015, Cuomo “asked his health commissioner, Howard Zucker to assemble a task force and draft rules for rationing the ventilators they already had” instead of buying 16,000 new ventilators.” She then criticized Cuomo for other ways he allocated money in 2015, including the purchase of solar panels.
There was no link between any possible ventilator purchases and the solar panels.
“So, he had a chance to buy in 2015, 16,000 ventilators at a very low price and he turned it down. I’m not blaming him or anything else, but he shouldn’t be talking about us,” Trump said during the town hall.
Dani Lever, Cuomo’s communications director, told TheWrap via email, “He obviously didn’t read the document he’s citing – this was a 5 year old advisory task force report, which never recommended the State procure ventilators – it merely referenced that New York wouldn’t be equipped with enough ventilators for a 1918 flu pandemic. No one is, including Mr. Trump.”
Watch the moment below, via Media Matters For America’s Matthew Gertz:
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) March 24, 2020