Trump Lies 1,628 Times. The Truth Dies.
Yesterday marked President Trump’s 298th day in office, and Washington Post fact-checkers have been counting the lies:
For some reason, our year-long project analyzing, categorizing and tracking every false or misleading claim by President Trump had seemed like quite a burden in the past month. Well, the numbers are in and now we know why: In the past 35 days, Trump has averaged an astonishing nine claims a day.
The total now stands at 1,628 claims in 298 days, or an average of 5.5 claims a day. That puts the president on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of his first year in office, though he obviously would easily exceed 2,000 if he maintained the pace of the past month. (Our full interactive graphic can be found here.)
As regular readers know, the president has a tendency to repeat himself — often. There are now at least 50 claims that he has repeated three or more times.
Trump’s most repeated claim, uttered 60 times, was some variation of the statement that the Affordable Care Act is dying and “essentially dead.” The Congressional Budget Office has said that the Obamacare exchanges, despite well-documented issues, are not imploding and are expected to remain stable for the foreseeable future. Indeed, healthy enrollment for the coming year has surprised health-care experts.
Trump also repeatedly takes credit for events or business decisions that happened before he took the oath of office — or had even been elected. Fifty-five times, he has touted that he secured business investments and job announcements that had been previously announced and could easily be found with a Google search.
But with the push in Congress to pass a tax plan, two of Trump’s favorite talking points about taxes — that the tax plan will be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history and that the United States is one of the highest-taxed nations — have been moving up the list.
Trump repeated the falsehood about having the biggest tax cut 40 times, even though Treasury Department data shows it would only rank eighth. And 50 times Trump has claimed that the United States pays the highest corporate taxes (19 times) or that it is one of the highest-taxed nations (31 times). The latter is false; the former is misleading, as the effective U.S. corporate tax rate (what companies end up paying after deductions and benefits) ends up being lower than the statutory tax rate.
We also track the president’s flip-flops on our list, as they are so glaring. He spent the 2016 campaign telling supporters that the unemployment rate was really 42 percent and the official statistics were phony; now, on 33 occasions he has hailed the lowest unemployment rate in 17 years. It was already very low when he was elected — 4.6 percent, the lowest in a decade — so his failure to acknowledge that is misleading.
Fifty-seven times, Trump has celebrated a rise in the stock market — even though in the campaign he repeatedly said it was a “bubble” that was ready to crash as soon as the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates. Well, the Fed did raise rates three times since the election — and yet it has not plunged as Trump predicted. It has continued a rise in stock prices that began under Barack Obama in 2009.
Again, the president has never explained his shift in position on the stock market. But he couldn’t stop talking about it during his trip to Asia.
We maintain the database by closely reading or watching Trump’s myriad public appearances and television and radio interviews. The interviews are especially hard to keep up with, in part because the White House does not routinely post on them on its website. Moreover, Trump tends to seek out right-leaning interviewers who rarely challenge him or question him when he repeats false claims that have already been fact-checked. The interviews thus often contain a torrent of misleading claims, and we despair that supposed journalists are not confronting the president about his rhetoric.
Amusingly Kessler notes that the President was fact-checked in front of the media by the Prime Minister of Australia:
On Nov. 13, Trump met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he started to repeat one of his favorite false claims that the United States has “deficits with almost everybody.”
“Except us,” interjected Turnbull.
“Except with you,” Trump agreed, adding: “You’re the only one.” He then suggested he should check the figures, but Turnbull assured him, “It’s real.”
Indeed, the United States has a goods trade surplus of $13 billion and services trade surpluses of $15 billion with Australia, largely because of a Free Trade Agreement, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
We assume Trump was joking when he said Australia was the “only one.” But for the record, the United States also has trade surpluses with the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Belgium, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chile, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries, according to the International Trade Commission.
In other words, even while being fact-checked by a foreign head of government, Trump was telling a lie. I guess that’s one more to add to the list.
This news, of course, should be completely unsurprising. Shortly after the 2016 Republican National Convention, Politifact found that nearly 80% of the claims that candidate Trump had made on the campaign trail since entering the race the year before had been a lie of some form or another. That trend continued for the balance of the campaign, including even during Trump’s Presidential debates with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While there were several points during those debates that either one of the moderators or Clinton herself called these lies out, their sheer number was almost impossible for any one person to keep track of without losing their mind. This trend continued after the election, of course, and Trump wasn’t even in office for twenty-four hours before he told the first of his many lies regarding the size of his Inauguration Day crowd. From that point forward, the trend was set and we’re now at the point where I’m sure that Glenn Kessler and the rest of the fact checkers at the Post and other similar outfits are glad to have access to a computer that can keep track of the numbers for them.
At the rate of 5.5 lies per day, that would mean Trump is on track to utter roughly 2,008 lies by the end of his first year in office. At the end of a four-year term, that would amount to roughly 8,036 lies over the course of a four-year term in office. Were Trump to be re-elected and serve a full second term, he would have told roughly 16,071 lies to the American people. And that assumes that he doesn’t increase that 5.5 lies per day average in the years to come. Even for politicians, for whom lies, misstatements, and half-truths are common and unfortunately largely accepted by many segments of the public, that’s an astounding amount of lying on the part of one man. One has to wonder what the number would come to if one added in official comments from other Administration spokespersons, such as Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway, Communications Director Hope Hicks, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and others whose job includes speaking to the public and the media on behalf of the Administration were added into the total. Even if one excludes those instances where these spokespersons are merely repeating something the President has already said, I would imagine that both the daily average and the number derived from it would be much, much higher.
While the number of lies at this point is somewhat amusing, it’s not really the important point. These figures demonstrate a fact about this Administration that has become all too apparent in the still relatively short amount of time that he has been President. To an extent that is extraordinary for any recent Presidential Administration, the Trump White House clearly doesn’t seem to care if what it is telling the press and the American truth or not. Even when confronted on the air by someone like CNN’s Jake Tapper, NBC’s Chuck Todd, or other journalists and cable news anchors who have become very good at putting these spokespersons on the spot, they will continue to prevaricate, dodge the question, or simply dismiss the argument being made or the question being asked as an example of “Fake News,” or a “biased media.” Over at Fox News Channel and on friendly news sites such as Breitbart News, of course, these misrepresentations are faithfully repeated as gospel truth and they quickly become part of the zeitgeist of the Trump supporters you run into on social media or, if you’re “fortunate” enough, in the real world and even your own family. At that point, the mentality of the average Trump supporter, which isn’t all that different from the mentality of Roy Moore’s supporters, is such that any attempt to try to point out the truth to them is going to be ignored and dismissed, or even that they’ll viciously attack people who try to speak truth to them. What we consider Trump “lies” help to reinforce the worldview that these people hold and that fact that Trump pisses off the “right” people is a point in his favor in their book. Given that, they wouldn’t care if Trump was telling ten lies a day, or twenty, or thirty. As long as he says what they want to hear they’ll be behind him.
Because of this, you can continue to expect to hear Trump and his people misrepresenting the truth to their benefit. After all, what have they got to lose?
In any case, if you want to keep track of Trump’s lies you can follow the Post’s tracker yourself.