WASHINGTON — Of the flood of misinformation, conspiracy theories and falsehoods seeding the internet on the coronavirus, one common thread stands out: President Trump.
That is the conclusion of researchers at Cornell University who analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media around the world. Mentions of Mr. Trump made up nearly 38 percent of the overall “misinformation conversation,” making the president the largest driver of the “infodemic” — falsehoods involving the pandemic.
The study, to be released Thursday, is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media. [..]
The study identified 11 topics of misinformation, including various conspiracy theories, like one that emerged in January suggesting the pandemic was manufactured by Democrats to coincide with Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, and another that purported to trace the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, to people who ate bat soup.
But by far the most prevalent topic of misinformation topic was “miracle cures,” including Mr. Trump’s promotion of anti-malarial drugs and disinfectants as potential treatments for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. That accounted for more misinformation than the other 10 topics combined, the researchers reported.
The study found that conspiracy theories, when lumped together, accounted for 46 percent of the misinformation mentions. Among those theories was one that emerged in early April suggesting that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a respected voice on the pandemic, was exaggerating deaths or was a beneficiary of pharmaceutical company efforts to find treatments and vaccines. To look for such stories, they examined social media hashtags, including #FireFauci and #FauciFraud.