47 times Trump has said the 1918 flu pandemic happened in 1917

47 times Trump has said the 1918 flu pandemic happened in 1917

President Trump is many things: a prolific tweeter, a "very stable genius" (according to himself) and, somehow, the most powerful man in the world.

But there's one thing he definitely isn't: a details guy.

Oh, and one more thing: a historian.

During the course of the coronavirus crisis, virtually everything Trump has said and done has been criticised because, well, it’s not exactly been smooth sailing, has it? America has by far the most deaths and cases in the world, with “second waves” appearing in states across the country.

Trump has tried to defend himself by frequently comparing the virus to the flu. He’s even drawn on historical comparisons with the 1918 flu pandemic.

Yes, the *1918* pandemic... Not, as Trump frequently seems to think, the “1917” pandemic.

Trump has frequently referred to the "1917" pandemic. But there was no pandemic in 1917.

Perhaps he's a big fan of the Sam Mendes war movie, 1917?

Despite the fact that he's always going on (and on) about having a "high IQ", it's well known that Trump's not exactly well versed in history. In fact, a leaked White House memo to staff told them never to assume he knows basic facts about American history.

But this is a mistake he’s made over and over again. In fact, Vox’sAaron Rupar has been cataloguing the various times he’s got this wrong.

Rupar isn’t the only one who’s noticed this, either. In a tally compiled by Susan Glasser of the New Yorker, Trump has incorrectly referred to a 1917 flu pandemic at least 27 times since 11 March. She wrote:

In a handful of instances—six, by my count—Trump referred to both 1917 and 1918, suggesting that someone had perhaps tried to give him the correct date, but he could never quite get it to stick.

Since 11 March, Trump has continued to make this mistake at an alarming rate. Rupar has tweeted every time he’s noticed the president making this mistake and it’s a very, very long list.

So in addition to the tally of 27 from before 11 March, here’s some more Trump gaffes that we know about…

4 April

Trump said that "1917" was the "greatest of them all" when it comes to pandemics

7 April

Trump said: "the worst pandemic we ever had was the flu, it was in 1917"

8 April

Trump said "the last one" (pandemic) happened "in 1917, a long time ago"

10 April

14 April

18 April

He said the world had not "seen a virus like this since 1917".

22 April

27 April

Trump said: "You all know what happened in 1917. That's over 100 years ago."

28 April

29 April

"If you were to say that we'd have had the worst pandemic since 1917..."

29 April (again)

30 April

"I think we're going to have a great year next year, knowing that we left behind a year of tremendous death, the likes of which we haven't seen since 1917"

4 May

4 May (again)

15 May

"We haven't seen anything like this in over 100 years, 1917"

18 June

25 June

7 July

So there we have it, with Rupar's count of 20 times added to Glasser's tally of 27 before 11 March, that makes at least 47 times Trump has said that the 1918 flu pandemic happened in 1917.

But it could well be more because there's a month or so gap between the start of Rupar's count and the end of Glasser's. And of course there's the possibility that some of his quotes could have slipped through the net.

The president being unable to get this basic fact right, over and over and over again, doesn't exactly fill anyone with confidence... does it?

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