Saturday, April 18, 2020

Trump Keeps Saying (Wrongly) That The 1918 Influenza Pandemic Occurred In 1917 (Running Count: 57 Times)

[Updated: As of May 15, 2021, Donald Trump has incorrectly referred to the 1918 influenza epidemic as happening in "1917" a total of 57 times, including 34 times in April 2020.]
Why does Donald Trump refer to the 1918 influenza pandemic as happening in 1917?

One theory: He may have misspoke when he first mentioned it, on March 11. Perhaps he meant to say "1918", but for whatever reason said "1917". As we all know, Donald Trump is never wrong, so no one in his inner circle corrected him — and he has been saying "1917" ever since.

(Or maybe he now knows 1917 is wrong, but refuses to start saying 1918, since that would be an admission that he had been wrong originally.)

March 11

[W]e're having to fix a problem that, four weeks ago*, nobody ever thought would be a problem. Nobody — you read about them. You read about them from 1917 and you read about them from lots of other times. But nobody thought that we would seeing — we were just discussing that. This came out of nowhere. And it actually came out of China, which is the way it works. But we are going to get the problem solved.
*: The White House was first warned in the second week of November 2019, which is 17 weeks before this date.
March 16

We have an invisible enemy. We have a problem that a month ago nobody ever thought about. Nobody in the — you know, I've read about it. I read about — many years ago, 1917, 1918. I've seen all of the different — the different problems similar to this that we've had. This is a bad one. This is a very bad one. This is bad in the sense that it's so contagious. It's just so contagious. Sort of, record-setting-type contagion.
"you know, I've read about it"

Trump has never read about it. There are numerous stories online detailing how White House officials were forced to shorten 10-page memos to one page and then put Trump's name in every paragraph so his attention would stay on the page. Trump is 73 years old. I'd bet he has not opened any book that did not have his name on the cover in at least 50 years.
March 21

And the magnitude of this — it's a tragedy. It's an absolute tragedy. But the magnitude is something that, no matter who you were, no matter where you come from, nobody ever thought a thing like this could happen. You read about 1917 and you read about certain things, but you think, in a modern age, a thing like that could never happen. Well, it comes back. It is genius. It comes back. And it's too bad.
March 27

And we were attacked like nothing that's happened possibly since 1917 — many, many years ago. We were attacked.
April 1

If you look at 1917, the pandemic, it was something. It ravaged parts of this country but ravaged Europe. Ravaged. They say 75- to 100 million — some people say 50- to 75 million people died. Think of that. And that was a long time ago, over 100 years ago. Very, very — many books written about the 1917, 1918 pandemic.

April 2

They said, "Close up the country." And I said, "What's that all about?" And we discussed today — and probably not since 1917; we came to that conclusion — and she is a fantastic person, a brilliant person ... And part of it — it's a contagion. It's so contagious. ...

But 1917 — so that's over 100 years ago, but that was — you know, it's been written about many, many times. That was a horrible — whether it was 75 or 100 million people — I've heard from 50 to 75, I've heard 75 to 100 — but it was tens of millions of people. Now, we have the advantage of communication. This could have been just as bad. I mean, here we can read on the Internet. We can see what to do. We can have these meetings; they can watch on television, which they do. A lot of people are watching. A lot of people are watching. And they say, "Gee, social distancing."

But in 1917, they didn't have that option. You know, they didn't know what to do. They just noticed people were dying all over the place. Think of it: 75- to 100 million people died. A lot of people in this country died.

April 3 (first press conference)

But this was — I was with some of the leading professionals, and they say not since 1917 has there been anything like this. 1917 was a time when, I guess, you could say, 50, 75, or 100 million — you hear different estimates — people died. Think of that: 100 million. Maybe 100 million people died. So they had no communications. They weren't able to shut things down like we are doing. But that was a — that was a plague. That was a plague. It started here, actually. It went to Europe. We were badly affected, but Europe was really affected. So that was the worst. So not since 100 years ago — more than 100 years ago has this — a thing like this happened.

April 3 (second press conference)

Well, I always knew that pandemics are one of the worst things that could happen. There's been nothing like this since probably 1917. That was the big one in Europe. It started actually here and went to Europe. Probably. I've heard about — Excuse me. Wait a minute. Let me finish. I've heard about this for a long time — pandemics. You don't want pandemics.
April 4

Nobody has trained for this; nobody has seen this, I would say, since 1917, which was the greatest of them all. The greatest of this type of battle. Probably the greatest of them all. Right? 1917. Up to 100 million people were killed. ...

Again, there's never been anything so contagious as this. In 1917, it was vicious if you got it, but it wasn't contagious like this. Now, in 1917, had they had the Internet and all the means of communication, they could have practiced distancing. You know, by the time, people started thinking in terms — in those terms, they lost, I guess, 75 to 100 million people. So that's modern — you know, that's a modern day, great thing that happened.
April 5

Look, 1917 — that's a long time ago — perhaps 100 million people died. That's a long time ago. So people don't think it's going to happen. I would have, frankly — I mean, did anybody in this room think a thing like this could happen? But it happened.
April 7

Okay. You said I said it was just like a flu. So the worst pandemic we ever had in this world was a flu, and it was called — you know that. It was in 1917, 1918. And anywhere from 50- to 100 million people died. That was a flu, okay? So, you could say that I said it was a flu or you could say — the flu is nothing to sneeze at.
April 8

This is a very unique thing. This has not happened, anything like this, of this magnitude, since 1917, 1918, the great pandemic. That was — that was something. But — yeah, no, people want to sit next to each other at restaurants. They want to sit next to each other like normal at a football game, baseball game, basketball game, hockey game. No, we want to go back to life.

Now, the first period of time, maybe we'll go a little bit slower and maybe we'll be talking about distancing. But at some point, we expect to be back like it was before. And hopefully it'll never happen. Hopefully it will — if it does happen it's going to be in a hundred years from now. The last one, 1917 — that's something. That's a long time ago. And that was — that was a horrible thing.
April 10

Hey, look, with all we've been down — I mean, we've — we've never been hit — I don't know, has this country ever been hit like this? Probably not. 1917, but that was different, and it was a different time, and, frankly, Europe took the brunt of it. We didn't, but it was a terrible time also. But, probably, never been hit like this, right? Somebody was saying — in fact, I was speaking with Governor Cuomo about it. Because we were in New York City — a place we love, New York State — with the World Trade Center. And that was approximately 3,000 people. Well, we've doubled that. In this same area, we've doubled that — more than doubled it, substantially more. And it's obviously going. You know, we had our highest number yesterday and the day before. Okay. With all of this news, what would lead you to believe that we're going to have the best stock market week — shortened week — in 50 years? Almost broke the all-time record. You know what that is? That's a pent-up demand. Now, that's my opinion.
April 14 (first press conference)

[W]e're going through something the likes of which, I guess, we've never seen. Maybe you go back to 1917, 1918. That was the big plague. That was a big one. And anywhere from, Mike, I guess, 75 to 100 million people died. Which started here — it started in a certain location, but I don't want to say because I love that location so I'm not going to say it. But it started in this country and actually got brought to Europe. And Europe is where it did its — you know, thousands of people died here. Large numbers. But in Europe, tens of millions of people died. So we gave them no favor when whoever it is went over to Europe, right? No favor.
April 14 (second press conference)

[W]e're going to have tremendous numbers of ventilators that we're able to help our states with at a later date if there's ever a problem like this, which we hope to God will never happen again. It was 1917, 1918. That's a long time ago. We hope it never happens again.

April 16

We'll be able to suppress it, whack it. We'll be able to do things that people weren't even thinking about because nobody has ever gone through this. In 1917, they went through something that was similar. Probably not as contagious, probably more powerful in certain other ways. But we are going to be able to suppress it, we think. And we're going to watch it very closely. We're going to — we're going to be able to watch things very closely.
April 17

The market was up seven- or eight hundred points today. And if you would have told me that we would have a virus, the likes of which this world has not seen since 1917 — which was the Spanish flu, where anywhere from 75- to 100 million people were killed — and then we'd have a stock market that's not far below its all-time high — and it's starting to get a little low. You know, then you had 1,000-point increase and a 1,200-point increase. So now we have a stock market that's at a point where it's not very far away from where it was. And we've gone through a closed — literally, a closed country. ...

But if you were to tell me how well we're doing after we went through the worst event of its kind since 1917, it's pretty amazing.
April 18

You're talking about, you know, potentially lives like nobody has seen since 1917.
April 19

Nobody ever heard of anything like this. Not since 1917, more than 100 years ago, has anything like this happened. And in those days, they had no real communication so you couldn't say, "Go inside. Don't..." You know, people just died. Almost 100 million people, it's reported. It's tough. So, you know, the American people, what they've done is — is incredible. And they've learned a lot, you know. ... They've learned about their washing their hands ... [Note: Newspapers were a thing 100 years ago.]
April 21

We have a very unusual situation where something came in that nobody has seen for many, many decades. Probably 1917 would be the closest analogy, if you look at it — when you look at the contagion, the kind of contagion we're talking about.
April 22

We hope this doesn't happen again for — again, ever. But, you know, last time it was of this magnitude: 1917. That's a long time ago. So we want to be prepared. And we are prepared. ...

I'm always concerned about everything. We had to fix this problem. This was — we were attacked. This was an attack. This wasn't just, "Oh, gee." And this wasn't the flu, by the way. You know, they like to say the flu. Nobody has ever seen anything like this. 1917 was the last time. We were attacked. We had the greatest economy in the history of the world. We had the greatest economy — better than China, better than any place. They will tell you that.
April 27

This is something that the world has not seen for a long, long time. You can probably go back to 1917, where it was a terrible period of time. You all know what happened in 1917. That's over 100 years ago.
April 28

We're going through a period of time, the likes of which we've never seen in this country before. Certainly even if you go back into 1917 that was the worst of all time, but it was also not as bad here. It was very bad. It was very rough. It was a bad one, but it wasn't, it wasn't quite like what we're going through right now and it's because of the amazing … When you look at how contagious this is where people literally just being in the same area with other people, it catches. I'm very proud of this country, I have to say.
April 29

But if you would have said that we would have had the worst pandemic since 1917 over 100 years ago with the disturbance to 184 countries at least, because that was as of last week, that a market would be where we're at 29,000 and now we're going to be at 24,000, and we were at a low, I think we're having one of the best weeks. We're having one of the best periods in terms of stock market, which to me is jobs and future. ... [W]e started off when I was elected, the number was much lower, much, much lower as you know, it's called in the teens ...

I guess if you go back over a hundred years, 1917 and that was a terrible thing. But that was close depending on your account or the account anywhere from 50 to 100 million people died, 1917. So we haven't seen it. It's over a hundred years. And so understanding that that was terrible.
April 30

I think we're going to have a great year next year. Knowing that we left behind a year of tremendous death — tremendous death. It was a — just a terrible thing, the likes of which we haven't seen, I guess, if you go back over 100 years — 1917. And that was a terrible thing. But that was close. Depending on your — your account or the account, anywhere from 50 to 100 million people died — 1917. So, we haven't seen it. It's over 100 years.
May 3

The one thing about this disease that everybody's learned very easily and very quickly is the way it's so contagious. It is the most contagious thing people have seen. So in 1917, we had a horrible, that case was the flu, you remember the Spanish flu? So much has been written about it, now of course it's the hottest… Everybody that writes a book about the Spanish flu of 1917, it killed between I guess 50 to a hundred million people. It probably ended the first world war because the soldiers were all getting sick. It was the worst the world has ever seen that we know of. We have something that's different.

[The First World War did not end because of the influenza pandemic. While possibly ignorant, it's not embarrassing, like saying Frederick Douglass and/or Thomas Edison is still alive. Douglass died 125 years ago (1895) and Edison passed away 89 years ago (1931).]

I sat down with my son. I sat down with my grandchildren. I said, "A terrible thing has happened. It's a thing that we've never experienced." I said, "I guess you could go back over a hundred years and you could go to 1917 and we experienced it, but Europe experienced that much worse. It could have been a hundred million people died." But I said, "Something's happened, but we're going to be strong and we're going to get out of it, and our country is going to be bigger and better and stronger than ever before."
May 14

Who would have thought? 1917. It could have been up to 100 million people were killed, and that was the Spanish flu. In 1917, who would have thought this was going to happen? That's over 100 years ago.

May 15

And I just want to make something clear. It's very important: Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back. ... And in many cases, they don't have vaccines, and a virus or a flu comes, and you fight through it. We haven't seen anything like this in 100-and-some-odd years — 1917.
May 19

We have done a terrific job on healthcare. Then we got hit by a plague like nobody's ever seen before, outside of maybe 1917, and I think we've done an incredible job.
June 17

Nobody knew that it was going to be that contagious. It's a highly contagious — there's been nothing like this since 1917, over 100 years ago, where probably anywhere from 50 to 100 million people died. Probably ended World War I, because all the soldiers, they were — they were so sick. And it probably — that was the one thing. It ended World War I, very likely. But nobody had any idea it was going to be this — this kind of contagious. It has been really rough. But we have learned a lot. And we're doing really great in the laboratories.
June 25
July 7

We understand the disease much better. Nobody knew what this was, nobody had ever seen it before. There's been nothing like this since 1917. That's more than a hundred years ago. ... And now we're opening and we want to stay open, and we will stay open, we're not closing. We'll put out the fires as they come out. I call them embers and fires and whatever you want to call them.
July 13

[T]his is the worst thing that's happened since probably 1917. This is very bad. All over the world, there's 188 countries right now. But no, we test more than anybody by far. And when you test, you create cases. So we've created cases.
July 30

Highly infectious. One of the most infectious diseases that anybody has ever seen. Not since 1917, over a hundred years ago, has anyone seen anything like what we're witnessing now. But these states have also seen the virus substantially rebound and again, no one is immune. No one is immune. ... People are starting to understand the disease now. We certainly have understood a lot about the disease that we didn't have any idea. We didn't. Nobody ever saw anything like this.
August 3

Nobody knew what this thing was all about. This has never happened before. 1917, but it was a totally different, it was a flu in that case. Okay? But other than 1917, there's never been anything like this. And by the way, if you watch the fake news on television, they don't even talk about it.

August 10

We understand the disease. Nobody understood it because nobody's ever seen anything like this. The closest thing is in 1917, they say right? The great – the great pandemic certainly was a terrible thing where they lost anywhere from 50 to 100 million people. Probably ended the Second World War. All the soldiers were sick. It was a – that was a terrible situation. And this is highly contagious. This one is highly, highly contagious.
August 15

You can't compare it to 1917. That was incredible, that was the worst ever, by far. You look at their – they lost possibly 100 million people ...
August 17

[Swine flu] was peanuts compared to this monster. This monster is the worst thing that's happened in this world since 1917. Where it could have been a hundred million people died. ... [W]e've done an incredible job, including among the best numbers in the world ... Among the best numbers in the world ...

March 16, 2021

You add the fact that I was the one and this administration was the one that came up with the vaccine which is going to save the world okay it's gonna save the -- we would be I think worse than 1917 where 50 to 100 million people died. May 14, 2021

Without the vaccines, this world would have been in for another 1917 Spanish Flu, where up to 100 million people died.


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Also:

The closest thing is in 1917, they say, the great pandemic. It certainly was a terrible thing where they lost anywhere from 50 to 100 million people. Probably ended the second World War, all the soldiers were sick.


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At least one of Trump's toadies is saying "1917", too:

2 comments:

allan said...

Here is the rundown of "1917" mentions:
March 11
March 16
March 21
March 27
April 1
April 2 (3 separate times during a long monologue)
April 3 (first press conference of day)
April 3 (second press conference of day)
April 4 (2 times, replying to 2 different questions)
April 5
April 7
April 8 (2 separate times in one reply)
April 10
April 14 (first press conference of day)
April 14 (second press conference of day)
April 16
April 17 (2 times, replying to 2 different questions)
April 18
April 19
April 21
April 22 (2 times, replying to 2 different questions)
April 27
April 28
April 29
April 30
The transcripts for April 28-29-30 have not been posted, but I think he mentioned "1917" just once each day.

allan said...

He also often explains (as if everyone is an idiot) that 1917 was more than 100 years ago. Thanks, Mr. History Teacher!