On May 12 2020, a screenshot of a purported tweet from United States President Donald Trump circulated — in which he purportedly lashed out at Barack Obama and said that his predecessor didn’t “prepair” for the coronavirus pandemic:
First of all, every single iteration of the tweet we located on Facebook or Instagram showed a very high level of engagement — 92.1K retweets and 181.5K likes. They also all showed an identical number of retweets and likes.
Had the tweet been both authentic and that popular, it was likely those numbers would vary as people took screenshots to share, and that some readers might have captured an image of the tweet on mobile or in “night mode.” But it seemed only one screenshot of the purported tweet existed.
In it, the following statement was attributed to Trump on Twitter:
It is unbelievable that President Obama criticized me for the coronavirus response. He had 8 years to prepair the next president for a pandemic and he failed. I have done a tremendous job. There are still more people alive than dead!
In addition to a very mockable misspelling, the tweet displayed a date (May 11 2020). It also included a credulity-bending claim that there were still “more people alive than dead” in the United States. A search on Twitter revealed that people replied to Trump referencing the screenshot (or tweeted the misspelling in commentary about him):
— Deetermined (@deems59) May 13, 2020
Go prepair* some hamberders*, and stop talking.
— Pamela Peitzman (@pammy_facepaint) May 13, 2020
So @realDonaldTrump is saying President @BarackObama neglected to leave a prepair (LOL) a president who can’t spell, him for the pandemic! Well that’s a like he did PREPARE you for this you just ignored it and fired the Pandemic response team. This is ALL on YOU 45!
— Lydia Jones (@LadyLakersfan) May 13, 2020
y’all really chose a guy that spelled prepare like “prepair” and used the wrong “than” in a tweet today. I know he’s done worse, but the spelling & grammar feels personal
— kate huey (@katehuey1) May 13, 2020
None of those tweets were a direct reply to the purported original “prepair … for a pandemic” tweet. Also, no manual retweets or other traces of any such tweet seemed to exist, which would be likely if the tweet was authentic (and had that high a level of engagement.) We checked ProPublica’s Politwoops page for Trump, which archives all of his (and other politicians’) deleted tweets, and did not find any indication that he had ever tweeted this to begin with.
Screenshots of a purported tweet by President Trump indicating he thought it “unbelievable that President Obama criticized him for the coronavirus response” when Obama “had 8 years to prepair the next president for a pandemic and he failed,” and that there “are still more people alive than dead” continued circulating, but there was no evidence Trump actually tweeted the comment or anything of the sort. The source of the tweet was unknown, but it was not a legitimate tweet nor a legitimate misspelling.