Manipulated Collins quote misrepresents praise for Trump

AAP FactCheck October 2, 2020

The Statement

A meme circulated by a pro-Labour Facebook page quotes New Zealand’s National Party leader, Judith Collins, as praising US president Donald Trump during the second debate of the 2020 election campaign.

The post features Ms Collins’ image alongside the quote: “He’s a damn sight better than any of the other Presidents that have been there before him, including those that you admire, Miss Ardern.”

Below the image are the words: “Judith Collins on Donald Trump.”

The October 1 Facebook post from the Backing the Kiwi Meme page is a screengrab of a Twitter post that carried the meme. The caption on Facebook reads: “Yikes.” At the time of writing, the post had been shared more than 740 times, attracting over 2300 reactions and 870 comments.

A Facebook post
 A meme with a purported Judith Collins quote praising Donald Trump is circulating on social media. 

The Analysis

During the Newshub Leaders Debate on October 30, New Zealand’s two major party leaders touched on numerous topics, including US President Donald Trump.

Moderator Patrick Gower asked both leaders if they thought Mr Trump was “dangerous influence on the world”. (1hr 22min 35sec mark)

During the subsequent discussion, National leader Judith Collins referred to a recent agreement Mr Trump brokered to normalise relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, an agreement signed September 15.

It makes UAE only the third Arab state to formally recognise and open diplomatic relations with Israel, and the first since Jordan in 1994.

“(Mr Trump) has actually done some quite recent stuff with Israel and UAE and so actually that’s better than war, don’t you think?,” Collins said in response to Gower’s question. “He hasn’t been ready to rush into war.”

“It is a worry when the best thing you can say is at least we haven’t had war,” Labour leader Jacinda Ardern responded.

Ms Collins continued: “Well actually it’s a damn sight better than any of the other presidents that have been there before, including those that you admire, Ms Ardern. Actually I think keeping away from war is a good thing.”

Former US secretary of defense Robert Gates, who served under both presidents George Bush and Barack Obama, recently delivered similar praise on Meet the Press, saying: “Unlike (Mr Trump’s) three predecessors … at least he hasn’t started any new wars.” (6min 11sec mark)

Earlier Ms Collins said she thought Mr Trump “could have done better” with the COVID-19 response in the United States, and both leaders said they would work with whichever candidate won the election.

While the quote included in the Facebook meme is largely accurate, the word “it’s” in Ms Collins’ debate response – a reference to Mr Trump’s record in initiating wars – has been replaced with “he’s”, wrongly implying that the National leader said the current US president was better than all those before him.

US President Donald Trump
 National leader Judith Collins praised US President Donald Trump for not starting any wars. 

The Verdict

The Facebook meme includes a largely accurate quote, however a key word has been changed that alters its meaning. Ms Collins did not say Donald Trump was “a damn sight better” than previous presidents, only that it was better he had not started any wars, unlike his predecessors.

Partly False – Content that has some factual inaccuracies.

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