A California-based media outlet late Thursday posted a story falsely reporting that Vice President Mike Pence tested positive for COVID-19, sparking conspiracy theories among the left.
Deadline Hollywood claimed that Pence tested positive for the new disease. The headline stated, "PREP. DO NOT PUBLISH UNTIL THE NEWS CROSSES."
"The two most powerful men in America now have coronavirus," the story began. It then said Pence announced on Wednesday that he had tested positive.
Deadline later removed the story.
"A draft post of a story about Vice President Mike Pence testing positive for coronavirus that was never meant to publish was accidently posted on Deadline. It was pulled down immediately. It never should have been posted and Deadline will take steps to see this kind of thing never happens again. Apologies to the Vice President and our readers. We regret the error," the outlet said in a correction notice.
The story sparked conspiracy theories among the anti-President Donald Trump crowd, who said the story, though removed, must mean something was going on.
"Never meant to be published but the actual article has quite a lot of detail. it's not just some blank webpage. What are you guys hiding," one wrote on Twitter.
"The fact that specific details were included and that chances were pretty slim that Mike got covid makes me wonder," another said.
Deadline was started in March 2006. It is described on its website as "the authoritative source for breaking news in the entertainment industry."
Speculation about Pence's condition stemmed from the cancellation of a planned appearance in Indianapolis.
Marty Obst, senior political adviser for Pence, told WISH-TV that the schedule change "was merely a scheduling issue and definitely not health-related."
Pence tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday morning, Devin O'Malley, his spokesman, said. Pence has tested negative each day for months.
Both Pence and Trump are tested every day, according to White House officials.