Deadline Hollywood accidentally posts pre-written article claiming VP Pence has COVID-19

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Entertainment gossip site Deadline Hollywood mistakenly published and then tweeted a pre-written story claiming that Vice President Mike Pence has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The article has been pulled off the outlet’s website and the tweet scrubbed, but not before the mistakenly published story was recorded in screenshots and on Internet archive sites.

For the record and to be clear, as of this writing the vice president has not been diagnosed with COVID-19.

It’s likely, however, that Deadline Hollywood and other outlets have pre-written stories in the tank regarding a potential positive diagnosis for Pence because President Donald Trump and a number of other White House officials and GOP lawmakers have tested positive for the virus and/or contracted symptoms from it within the past week.

And on that note, the vice president has been in close proximity with at least some of those who have contracted the illness, though he has said he is being tested frequently and that none have returned positive.

Pence also tested negative ahead of his debate on Wednesday with Joe Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

Still, Pence’s bloodshot left eye, which was visible at the debate, and his sudden cancellation of a planned trip to his home state of Indiana Friday led to rumors online that he may have contracted the virus, though his office denies them.

The president was hospitalized a week ago at Walter Reed Military Medical Center for nearly three days as he received treatment for the virus. He was discharged on Monday, and White House physical Dr. Sean Conley reported on Wednesday that the president had been fever-free for 24 hours by then.

First lady Melania Trump was also diagnosed with COVID-19, but she was never hospitalized and reportedly suffered only mild symptoms.

The original Deadline Hollywood article, which is archived at the Internet Wayback Machine, was actually marked, “PREP. DO NOT PUBLISH UNTIL THE NEWS CROSSES.”

The headline reads, “Vice President Mike Pence Tests Positive For Coronavirus 8 Days After Donald Trump.”

“The two most powerful men in America now have coronavirus,” the story begins.

“It comes after Pence, 61, had repeatedly said he tested negative for the virus, including before Wednesday night’s debate with Kamala Harris. During that debate, Pence frequently defended the administration’s response to coronavirus,” it adds.

The story also noted that Katie Miller, the vice president’s director of communications, tested positive for the virus in May.

The debate between Pence and Harris, which was less raucous than the first debate between President Trump and Biden, took place with the candidates socially distanced, seated at desks and divided by two tall sheets of plexiglass.

In terms of who may have won it, a 15-person group of undecided voters indicated to pollster Frank Luntz they believe the vice president did a better job, alternately describing Harris as “abrasive,” “evasive,” and “unpresidential.”

“The complaint about Kamala Harris was that she was abrasive and condescending,” Luntz told Fox News in a post-debate interview.

“If this is a battle over style and substance, which is often the case with undecided voters because they simply do not choose on policy — they also choose on persona — this was Mike Pence’s night,” he added.

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Jon Dougherty

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