In the same segment, Limbaugh also presented a talking point that would become common among right-wing media figures, claiming that Trump’s opponents are “weaponizing” the virus to hurt Trump. According to Limbaugh, Democrats and the media are exaggerating the threat of coronavirus because they believe it will reflect badly on the Trump administration and cost him reelection in 2020.
Limbaugh, who has a long history of promoting conspiracy theories, made reference on February 24 to the baseless claim that coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory. He also implied on February 26 that something nefarious was behind a warning from Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after learning that she is former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s sister.
Like Limbaugh, Sean Hannity has accused Democrats and the media of “weaponizing” coronavirus to hurt Trump. The Fox News host went so far as to claim on the March 2 edition of his radio show that “it’s like [Trump’s opponents] are hoping Americans die and get sick” because it would further their efforts to defeat Trump.
Hannity has also been reliably sycophantic in his praise of the Trump administration’s response. In particular, Hannity applauded Trump on March 2 for instituting a “travel ban” which “stopped the spread of this virus,” despite the fact that the travel restrictions the president put in place neither constituted a ban nor completely stopped the spread of coronavirus.