In August 2018, a Facebook page run by a notorious producer of junk news capitalized on the death of John McCain with a fake meme which claimed the long-serving Republican senator from Arizona had chosen to disparage President Donald Trump with his dying words:
This is false. We found absolutely no corroboration for the claim that McCain said this of President Trump before his death on 25 August, and the source — “America Loves Donald Trump” — is a Facebook page run by political troll utilizing fabricated inflammatory memes presented as “satire.”
The quote attributed to McCain was nonetheless taken seriously by some readers, as demonstrated by the many sincere comments posted under shared versions of the meme.
On 27 August, Rick Davis, who ran the Arizona senator’s 2008 presidential campaign and is a family spokesperson, read out a statement which McCain had prepared in advance of his death. It was wide-ranging and included some apparent allusions to President Trump, about whom McCain had been critical in the months leading up to his passing:
We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.
We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening. I feel it powerfully still.
Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history …
“We believe always in the promise and greatness of America … Americans never quit, we never surrender, we never hide from history. We make history.” – Former campaign manager Rick Davis reads John McCain’s final words https://t.co/hr3rPKpEok pic.twitter.com/tCLBkOU8JO
— CNN Newsroom (@CNNnewsroom) August 27, 2018