Fact Check

Did an Irish Times Column Express 'Pity' for the US?

A scathing opinion column was copied and pasted then circulated online, prompting some to question its authenticity.

Published April 28, 2020

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The Irish Times newspaper published a column by Fintan O’Toole expressing "pity" for the United States over U.S. President Donald Trump's leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In late April 2020, social media users shared a link to a column published by The Irish Times, a daily newspaper based in Dublin, Ireland. The headline and summary of the article contained commentary scathing enough to prompt some readers to ask Snopes if it was real:

The Irish Times column is real and was published on April 25, 2020. Written by columnist Fintan O'Toole, the full text of the article was obscured from some readers behind a paywall on the newspaper's site. However, it was pasted either in part or in full onto third-party websites and social media posts, or aggregated by other news media outlets, which prompted readers to ask about its authenticity and origin.

The piece was a condemnation of U.S. President Donald Trump's leadership during the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic.

"Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the US until now: pity," O'Toole wrote. "However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful."

As of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there are more than 980,000 known COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and upwards of 55,000 fatalities.


O'Toole, Fintan. "Donald Trump has Destroyed the Country He Promised to Make Great Again."   The Irish Times. 25 April 2020.

Benen, Steve. "Trump's Disinfectant Comments Lead to 'Stifled Giggles' Abroad."   MSNBC. 27 April 2020.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and has covered everything from crime to government to national politics. She has written for ... read more

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