White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway attempted on Thursday to spin US President Donald Trump’s false claim that children are “nearly immune” to the coronavirus — but met repeated pushback from Fox News host Sandra Smith.
That claim earned Trump a long-overdue rebuke from Facebook, which removed the post in question from his profile. Twitter, too, penalised the president’s campaign for posting a clip from his Wednesday morning “Fox & Friends” interview in which he claimed, “If you look at children, children are almost ― and I would almost say definitely ― almost immune from this disease.”
“There is a debate happening whether or not Facebook and Twitter should be arbiters of truth and decide what is fact and fiction,” Smith began. She then pulled up figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to those figures, children under the age of 18 account for 7.4% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US, a figure that’s been rising over the past month, Smith told Conway.
“So kids are getting this disease, Kellyanne,” she added.
Conway sidestepped, noting that 7.4% is a national figure and pointing out that some states, counties and school districts have different numbers. She then pivoted to discussing how some parents want their kids back at school, but Smith redirected her back to the issue at hand ― Trump’s claim.
“The debate right now is over the spread of misinformation by the president about children being ‘nearly immune,’” she interrupted. “Having under-18 kids in this country get the disease 7.4% of the time is not ‘nearly immune.’”
“And you want to dial down to specific states and districts where schools are reopening,” Smith added. “I spoke to the governor of Mississippi last night and he said, ‘The kids are spreading it.’”
She showed a clip of Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, who delayed the reopening of schools and introduced a mask mandate earlier this week. A school in Corinth, Mississippi, that reopened last week announced Wednesday that over 100 students were sent home to quarantine after several tested positive for the coronavirus.
“So is it helpful for the president to tell parents that children are nearly immune from this and then have it factually spreading child to child in places like Mississippi where they’ve opened the doors to their schools?” Smith asked.
Conway insisted Trump was referring to children being less susceptible to dying from the virus, which is very different from having immunity. After that, she pivoted to attacking Twitter and tech companies for “election interference,” but again, Smith pressed Conway to respond to Trump’s misinformation.
Watch the interview below.