Limbaugh claims coronavirus is being 'weaponized' to 'bring down' Trump

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on Monday suggested on his show that an outbreak of coronavirus in China was being "weaponized" by the news media against President TrumpDonald John TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE.

During a segment of his show highlighted by the left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters, Limbaugh likened the disease to the common cold despite its symptoms including a deadly form of pneumonia that has killed more than 2,000 people in China alone.

"Folks, this coronavirus thing, I want to try to put this in perspective for you. It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump," Limbaugh said.

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"You think I’m wrong about this? You think I’m missing it by saying that’s ... Yeah, I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks," he continued.

Limbaugh then pointed to large drops in the stock market in recent days thought to be caused by fears of the coronavirus outbreak, and repeated a debunked conspiracy theory that the disease was a released bioweapon.

"Ninety-eight percent of people who get the coronavirus survive," he said. "It’s a respiratory system virus. It probably is a ChiCom laboratory experiment that is in the process of being weaponized. All superpower nations weaponize bioweapons."

U.S. officials previously told AFP that conspiracy theories about the coronavirus including its alleged origin as a bioweapon were being spread by Russian disinformation sites and troll accounts on social media.

Other conservative figures including Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP lawmaker touts bill prohibiting purchases of drugs made in China Wisconsin Republican says US must not rely on China for critical supplies McConnell: Impeachment distracted government from coronavirus threat MORE (R-Ark.) have also repeated the conspiracy theory in recent days.

The coronavirus has spread to 29 countries outside of China and there have been more than 30 cases reported in the U.S.