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Debunked: No, Donald Trump did not say he'd run as a Republican because of their 'dumb voters'

A commonly-shared image purporting to be from a 1998 interview with People Magazine is a fake.

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AS SURE AS night follows day, US President Donald Trump will frequently hog the headlines – pandemic or not.

In the past few weeks alone, we’ve heard of him taking a drug unproven to treat Covid-19, hitting out at Irish-based pharmaceutical firms and even suggesting disinfectant could be an option for treating coronavirus

And, with Americans due to go to the polls this November, we’re likely to hear a lot more from him as he spars with Joe Biden in the run up to the presidential election.

One image likely to be shared and shared again on social media as we approach the election is a screenshot purported to be from an interview with People Magazine in 1998.

The commonly-shared screengrab contains what is supposed to be a quote from Trump in that interview.


It says: “If I were to run, I’d run as a Republican. They’re the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they’d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific.”

As we know, the president of the United States says a lot of things that can cause raised eyebrows.

But he didn’t say this. 

This fake image has been debunked numerous times in recent years, such as by US fact checkers Snopes in 2015

It helps that People Magazine have an extensive online archive. Trump wasn’t interviewed by the publication in 1998.

At no time was he ever interviewed by People and quoted as saying what he was purported to say above.

Fox News, meanwhile, wasn’t as prominent back in 1998 as it is now, as it had only begun to be rolled out between 1996 and 2000. How it covered events like the 2000 presidential election, the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War in 2003 cemented its role as a partisan news outlet. 

While Trump was dipping his toes into politics in the late 1990s/early 2000s, there is no record of him being quoted in any publication making these remarks. 

So, if you see this image being shared in the run up to the next election, you can be safe in the knowledge that it’s rubbish. 

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There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not. 


Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere. 

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate. 

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie

About the author:

Sean Murray

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