An illustrated look at the evolution of the 'inject Lysol' anti-Trump hoax

On Thursday, April 23, President Donald Trump ruminated during a press conference about the possibility that, just as disinfectants can destroy the Wuhan virus outside the body, there might be a way to destroy the virus inside the body. Within hours, the mainstream media was telling people the Trump was telling Americans to inject or ingest disinfectant to treat Wuhan virus.

After that, the internet was quickly inundated with “Trump said to drink bleach” memes. While there was factual pushback from conservatives, facts made no difference – the hoax was set in place. It will now be a smear against Trump's name as permanent as the Charlottesville hoax. Using videos and memes, this post will sketch out how the hoax developed.

Hoax Phase 1: Trump theorizes within the realm of available facts. The media says that he “suggests” a toxic "cure."

Here’s the video of President Trump’s original remarks. It’s quite obvious that he’s talking about potential experiments with ultraviolet lights or disinfectants that can be used in the lungs. It’s obvious that Trump is not recommending anything specific, especially either Lysol or bleach. Instead, he’s theorizing based upon things known to kill the virus and on medical procedures that already exist.

Nevertheless, as just one example of media malfeasance, NBC labeled the video “President Trump Suggests ‘Injecting’ Disinfectant as Coronavirus Cure.”

Hoax Phase 2: While NBC sort of played it straight, soon “reputable” media outlets are asserting that Trump instructed the American people to do something incredibly dangerous:

Hoax Phase 3: A day after Trump's press conferences, Nancy Pelosi gives her own press conference during which she states that President Trump advised Americans to inject Lysol into their bodies.

Hoax Phase 4: Prominent media personalities (in this example, the New York Times’ Frank Bruni) continue to misquote Trump:

Hoax Phase 5: Activist organizations, such as Occupy Democrats, assert that Trump is promoting killer cures:


Hoax Phase 6: A prominent leftist satirist accurately repeats Trump’s unremarkable statements but still cleverly and charmingly perverts them to align with the hoax that Trump wants people to inject Lysol and drink bleach:

Hoax Phase 7: The memes begin, all with the same message; namely, that Trump told Americans to drink bleach and inject Lysol:

Hoax Phase 8: With the hoax in place, the media promotes fake news about people actually having taken Trump’s alleged advice to ingest disinfectants:

It will not matter that there is no relationship between a spike in calls to poison control centers and Trump's ruminations. The media has a narrative and it's sticking to it.

Conservatives try to attack the hoax with logic and facts:

At this point, the hoax is fixed. Conservatives and other people with common sense still try to show that Trump was making a valid point rather than telling people to drink bleach. One line of argument is to point out that people ingest toxins all the time for health reasons:

Indeed, a friend of mine, Todd Tharp, had a whole clever list of dangerous things we ingest:

I would add to the list a poison plant for heart disease (digitalis) and another acid, this one used to treat pain, thin blood, and prevent strokes, heart attacks, and cancer (Aspirin).

Conservatives also reiterated what Trump himself had said, which was that he was talking about existing therapies being applied to the Wuhan virus:

There's no turning back. The latest anti-Trump hoax is now the left's fixed reality:

This information will be unavailing. In connection with the Charlottesville hoax, Scott Adams has explained that, once the hoax is fixed, there is no way to displace it with facts. No matter how often he showed people the transcript in which Trump made it crystal clear that he was not calling white supremacists “fine people,” Trump haters could not recognize that information:

After a few years of trying to deprogram people from this hoax, I have discovered a fascinating similarity in how people’s brains respond to having their worldview annihilated in real time. I call it the “fine people” hoax funnel. When you present the debunking context to a believer in the hoax, they will NEVER say this: “Gee, I hadn’t seen the full quote. Now that I see it in its complete form, it is obvious to me that my long-held belief is 100% wrong and the media has been duping me.”

That doesn’t happen.

What happens, instead, is that people, when presented with the documented facts (unassailable videos and transcripts), will start making up facts that comport with their belief system. Their brains can no longer process the actual information. I saw this with an elderly lady who had hallucinated that Nazis had walked into her room through the window. Showing her that her window was on the 5th floor and could not be opened did not alter her certainty that this had happened. She simply retrofitted her hallucination with theories about platforms, helicopters, and magic keys.

That’s where we are with the Lysol/bleach hoax. It’s now a fixed part of Leftist lore about President Trump. To them, he will forever be the president who told Americans to inject Lysol and drink bleach.


Since this was an illustrated anatomy of a hoax, I’ll end it with two more illustrations, the first of which, fittingly, comes from Scott Adams:

And this second one, equally fittingly, has popped up on social media from both leftists and conservatives because both sides, whether based on facts or fantasies, have nothing but disdain for their political opposites:

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