The Trump administration’s mishandling of key moments in the novel coronavirus outbreak has been well documented. Early travel restrictions from China and Europe were meant to buy time, but inaction or poor planning squandered much of the benefit. Delays in testing allowed the virus to spread across the country largely undetected. A shortage of personal protective equipment while cases surged overwhelmed hospitals and health-care workers. The president promoted unproven, and sometimes dangerous, medical approaches to fighting the disease, in some cases with potentially deadly consequences. He misrepresented how quickly a vaccine will be available.
But the president and his campaign’s Twitter and Facebook feeds tell a different story. From the announcement of the first confirmed case on American soil, their narratives have illustrated and amplified a successful — if often inaccurate — picture of the response.