Donald Trump, Liar Of The Year

Donald Trump has won Politifact's 'Lie Of The Year' because, well, he's told so many things that are utterly and provably false.

Trump Nixon V

Politifact has awarded its “Lie Of The Year” to Donald Trump, not so much for one thing he has said as for, well, nearly everything he says:

PolitiFact has named Donald Trump the winner of its annual “Lie of the Year” competition — and it’s not even close.

The fact-checking website has rated 76 percent of Trump’s statements “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire,” out of 77 statements checked. “No other politician has as many statements rated so far down on the dial,” PolitiFact observes.

Trump is often criticized for statements that have little to no basis in fact. For example, no video has been found showing “thousands” of Muslim-Americans celebrating the 9/11 attacks, as the Republican presidential candidate has claimed repeatedly.

“In considering our annual Lie of the Year, we found our only real contenders were Trump’s — his various statements also led our Readers’ Poll,” PolitiFact staff members write. “But it was hard to single one out from the others. So we have rolled them into one big trophy.”

“When it comes to inaccurate statements, the Donald was on fire,” PolitiFact continues.

From Politifact itself:

It’s the trope on Trump: He’s authentic, a straight-talker, less scripted than traditional politicians. That’s because Donald Trump doesn’t let facts slow him down. Bending the truth or being unhampered by accuracy is a strategy he has followed for years.

“People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts,” Trump wrote in his 1987 best-seller The Art of the Deal. “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

That philosophy guided Trump in luxury real estate and reality television. This year he brought it to the world of presidential politics.

Trump has “perfected the outrageous untruth as a campaign tool,” said Michael LaBossiere, a philosophy professor at Florida A&M University who studies theories of knowledge. “He makes a clearly false or even absurdly false claim, which draws the attention of the media. He then rides that wave until it comes time to call up another one.”

PolitiFact has been documenting Trump’s statements on our Truth-O-Meter, where we’ve rated 76 percent of them Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire, out of 77 statements checked. No other politician has as many statements rated so far down on the dial.

In considering our annual Lie of the Year, we found our only real contenders were Trump’s — his various statements also led our Readers’ Poll. But it was hard to single one out from the others. So we have rolled them into one big trophy.

To the candidate who says he’s all about winning, PolitiFact designates the many campaign misstatements of Donald Trump as our 2015 Lie of the Year.

Among the more recent claims that Trump has made on the stump and on his ever-present Twitter feed that Politifact cites in its report are Trump’s claims to have seen thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001, which they rated “Pants On Fire,” the claim that the Mexican government was sending criminals to the United States as official policy, also rated “Pants On Fire“, and a claim about racial disparity in crime that is simply not supported by the evidence. The ratings go back, though, to things that Trump said in the past. These included all his comments when he flirted with running for President in 2011 and was questioning President Obama’s eligibility to serve as President and whether or not he was actually born in the United States, a claim that, of course, received a “Pants On Fire” rating. His claim that the Obama Administration was barring claims for refugee status from Syrian Christians while allowing Muslims to come into the country was also investigated and it was rated as “False.” Trump has also made recent claims about economic growth and jobs statistics, something that is of course easily verifiable just by looking at government reports and analysis performed by private sector investment analysts, and these have been rated as “Pants On Fire.” I could go on, but you get the idea.

When you have one person where three-quarters of the factual claims they have made that have been examined end up being determined to have been false, it seems clear that the designation “Lie Of The Year,” or perhaps most appropriately “Liar Of The Year” is properly bestowed on Donald Trump. Not only has Trump built his entire campaign, and indeed in some sense his public reputation, on claims that are utterly false or at least incredibly exaggerated but he has done so making claims that can be quite easily debunked. In that sense, one has to wonder if he actually believes what he’s saying or if this is all part of some elaborate con game that he’s running to appeal to the most rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth elements in American politics. It’s actually hard to believe that it’s the former simply because it’s hard to believe that someone could go through life so self-deluded and still be as successful in business as Trump has admittedly been, even though it’s clear that Trump’s own ostentatious displays and worshiping of his wealth are often an illusion meant to hide a financial position built as much on debt and the pretend value assigned to his “brand” as it is on anything tangible. In that last case, though, then Trump’s campaign for the past five months has been nothing other than a cynical appeal to the worst aspects of American politics combined with pure demagoguery that at the very least borders on fascism.

Trump has, not surprisingly, dismissed the Politifact award and claims that he has been proven right on the statements that Politifact has deemed to be false, which is of course another “Pants On Fire” award worthy statement all its own. We’ll likely hear more from Trump on this on his Twitter feed or in his stump speech, because it fits right into the meme he has established among his supporters that the media and the ‘establishment’ keeps attacking him because they’re afraid of him. No doubt, his supporters will cheer him on rather than taking this opportunity to consider the fact that they’ve been had by a con man, and that’s largely because he’s saying things that they agree with and he’s doing it in a way that they like so much that it doesn’t matter to them if he’s telling the truth or not. It’s a rather depressing commentary on the state of American politics, really, but, given the fact that Trump continues to lead nationally, as well as in states like New Hampshire and South Carolina, while running very close along with Senator Ted Cruz in Iowa, who has his own odd relationship with facts at times, it’s not something that’s likely to end any time soon.

So there you have it, Republicans. Your 2016 frontrunner, currently and for the past five months is the Liar Of The Year. Perhaps you ought to ask yourself how and why it came to this.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    “The Don” will rise another 2% over this i bet..

  2. CSK says:

    A lot of Trump supporters will tell you that his claim about thousands and thousands of Muslims dancing the the streets of Jersey City is true. He said he saw it, so it happened. Some of them even claim to have seen it themselves. And everyone who contradicts him is smearing him.

    I’ve been following politics all my adult life, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this–the complete denial of objective reality–except perhaps for the antics of the Palinistas, and even those were mild compared to this. Of course, yesterday’s Palinista is today’s Trumpkin, and tthey’re a lot more angry and irrational now than they were then.

  3. Mikey says:

    Perhaps you ought to ask yourself how and why it came to this.

    You can’t assume Trump supporters have sufficient insight to ask themselves that question.

    The rest of us don’t have to ask, because we already know.

  4. Pch101 says:

    If truth interferes with reality, then the problem obviously lies with the truth!

  5. Tony W says:

    I mean this in all seriousness – why does the left not lie about Trump? Normally I wouldn’t advocate such a tactic, but it feels like perhaps it would be an effective strategy to beat back a willfully ignorant Republican electorate.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    No doubt, his supporters will cheer him on rather than taking this opportunity to consider the fact that they’ve been had by a con man,

    If you’re at a Trump rally and looking around you can’t spot the mark, it’s not because you are the mark, it’s because they all have the same stupid looks on their faces, they’re ALL marks.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tony W: I have considered starting an internet rumor concerning the inadequate size of his manhood and then demand he prove otherwise as he did with Obama’s birth certificate.

  8. al-Ameda says:

    Trump’s supporters do not care one bit about this.

    It really does not matter if Trump’s assertions are incorrect because his assertions conform with what his supporters want to believe.

  9. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    He may have launched a preemptive strike against such a rumor by claiming that Hillary Clinton got “schlonged,” which according to the Urban Dictionary means, among other things, to get smacked in the face by a very large penis. Maybe he meant his organ.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: No, he specifically stated that it was Obama who “schlonged” her. So he has already stated that Obama is a ‘real man’. Time to see if the Donald measures up

  11. Stonetools says:

    Its come to this , that an entire news cycle is being dominated by a presidential candidate’s utterance of the Yiddish term for a large penis. Well done, US media.

  12. bandit says:

    How could he possibly have won against Hillary Clinton?

  13. Stan says:

    @Tony W: “I mean this in all seriousness – why does the left not lie about Trump? Normally I wouldn’t advocate such a tactic, but it feels like perhaps it would be an effective strategy to beat back a willfully ignorant Republican electorate.”

    Why lie? The truth is enough.

  14. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Ah, thank you for clarifying.

    Well, in that case, what was metaphorically a dick-measuring contest on Trump’s part (ha-ha, pun intended) will now become literally a dick-measuring contest on Trump’s part. Maybe he can issue a challenge at the next Republican debate. All the guys can unzip, and Carly Fiorina can go…to the bathroom.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Tony W:

    …why does the left not lie about Trump?

    Hillary did, in a small way, with her statement that ISIS is using clips of him for recruiting. A statement that’s at least truthy at an informal Facebook, Twitter level. But ISIS Productions LLC has not made an ISIS labeled recruiting video. So Trump counterattacked and the supposedly liberal MSM have been all lit up about Hillary LIED! Far more umbrage than they’ve shown over all of Trump’s lies.

  16. DrDaveT says:

    @Tony W:

    I mean this in all seriousness – why does the left not lie about Trump?

    Because it would be indistinguishable from the current situation, in the eyes of Trump supporters?

    Seriously, what do you think it would accomplish? Trumpkins will dismiss anything critical of Trump as lies, whether they are or not. That’s part of the beauty of the Big Lie — if it’s big enough, it is self-sustaining and unassailable. Anyone who tries to comment on the Emperor’s nudity can be dismissed as a partisan hack who is only saying such things for nefarious reasons.

    Wow. I just realized — The Donald is the first postmodernist presidential candidate…

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: Republicans have spend decades creating the alternate universe these GOP base voters inhabit. And it’s proven hugely profitable to Limbaugh, Murdoch, et al to maintain it. And for GOP politicians to exploit it. A few statements by Hillary, or WAPO’s fact checker, or Little Jebbie! aren’t going to make a dent. I don’t how we back out. I don’t know how democracy survives.

  18. Hal_10000 says:

    I’m going to have to disagree with Politifact on this one. Trump isn’t a liar. A liar cares about the truth. Clinton’s a liar. Nixon was. Most politician are some degree of lair.

    No, as my friend Franklin Harris argues, Trump is a BS artist, in the Harry Frankfurt sense He doesn’t care about the truth. He might occasionally say something true by accident. But what he really says is whatever is going to get him attention and high polls numbers. He tells people what they want to hear and the truth is totally irrelevant. The celebrating Muslims is a perfect example. All he cared about was that people were talking about him, not whether it actually happened.

  19. bill says:

    @CSK: where you been the past 7yrs? i mean really, the press can’t even hide it’s leftist bend anymore so they just embrace it.

    back to the story though- hillary did get “shlonged” in ’08- can’t deny him that one!

  20. CSK says:

    @bill:

    Bill, what has any of this to do with media bias? Trump says this stuff; it’s not invented by a hostile press corps. Based on my reading of some of your posts, you don’t seem enthusiastic about Trump; in fact you seem to think he’s a loud-mouthed buffoon who appeals to the worst. Forgive me if I read you wrong.

    @Hal_10000:

    That is an interesting analysis, and probably largely true. If it is, and Trump wins the nomination and doesn’t really want it–that this has just been a giant ego-stroke for him–then he’s going to be like the dog who chased the car, caught it, and now doesn’t know what to do with it.

    Today Trump said he’d impose huge (excuse me, yuuuuge) fines/levies on the Ford Motor Company if it didn’t shut down its Mexican plant(s). He can’t, legally, do that. Does he know he can’t, and just doesn’t care because he knows his followers are dumb enough to buy it, or does he himself not know about NAFTA?

  21. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @gVOR08:

    I don’t know how democracy survives.

    Can’t see it as quite that dire, but , some one else put it:

    It’s a rather depressing commentary on the state of American politics

    .

    Problem is that this sort of truth-deny is transcending politics, and becoming more culturally the norm.

    Do you think that this could be the basis of a novel?
    Storyline: a society in which the only truth is that which the Big Brother (be it political or religious) tells it’s “people”. Everything else is labeled as a lie. For example, laws of physics are only valid if endorsed by the ruling class. Scientific observation is only valid if it gets endorsement by “the powers that be” Sort of like Galileo’s time.

  22. Deserttrek says:

    @al-Ameda: but hillary is the model of truth and honor?

  23. Tony W says:

    @Stan:

    Why lie? The truth is enough.

    No. The truth clearly is not enough. Some huge chunk of Americans are buying what he is selling.

  24. Tony W says:

    @DrDaveT: I agree you can’t hit hard and direct, but I do think a series of low-key Mitt Romney-style stories about dogs on top of cars, delivered very subtly, might begin to erode support.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Deserttrek: Well, according to this NYT graph, as a politician she is damn near the model of honesty.

  26. DrDaveT says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Well, according to this NYT graph […]

    Wait for it…

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: That’s the problem when you keep telling yourself and other people what they want to hear. At some point you come up with something totally whacko, try to act on it, and Reality says “uh, I don’t think so.” At which point you either end up fried to a crisp or laughed out of office.

  28. Jenos Idanian says:

    @bandit: How could he possibly have won against Hillary Clinton?

    Hillary and Obama were excluded because the contest is only open to amateurs. Pros like them are disqualified.

    Hillary’s latest whopper? Trump is featured in ISIS recruiting videos. He isn’t, but Bill Clinton is.

  29. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Hillary’s latest whopper? Trump is featured in ISIS recruiting videos. He isn’t,

    Prove it.

  30. anjin-san says:

    @ James – you really need to do something about website security…

  31. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Bill Clinton is.

    So are GW Bush, John McCain, the Capitol Building, the US Armed Forces, and the American Flag. Do you have a point, beside your usual “I have not gotten any smarter since yesterday”?

  32. Jenos Idanian says:

    @anjin-san: Last time I checked (and I’ve been very busy at work lately, so I might have missed some new developments), Hillary is married to Bill Clinton.

    And I did prove Bill’s in that video — you even acknowledged it.

    Prove Trump isn’t? Burden isn’t on me, you worthless, lying gun-fetishist fraud. Hillary said Trump is, and presumably has the contacts to know that. Let her prove her assertion.

    Then she can prove how she came under sniper fire in the former Yugoslavia. And that she never had classified material on her private e-mail server. And how Benghazi was inspired by a YouTube video. (Hillary loves flasely blaming stuff on videos, doesn’t she?)

    But like I said, she’s a pro. To put her up against an amateur would be unfair.

  33. Tillman says:

    @Tony W:

    I mean this in all seriousness – why does the left not lie about Trump?

    Because the left is for the most part hoping he wins the nomination. The assumption is Trump, with the pseudofascist demagoguery, is the clearest contrast with Clinton, who has bad metrics in honesty and trustworthiness. It’s one thing to hold your nose and vote for a candidate you don’t like but who espouses your preferred policy, it’s another thing entirely if their competitor is a raving lunatic with no regard for truth or decency. The strategy is that Trump will mitigate any loss in turnout from having Clinton as the nominee.

    Cruz is a poor man’s Trump, but I imagine the Clinton campaign can work with that. A more establishment candidate upends this strategy.

  34. al-Ameda says:

    @Deserttrek:

    @al-Ameda: but hillary is the model of truth and honor?

    Oh crap, this article was about Hillary Clinton, and not about Donald Trump? Damn, that happens to me all time.

    But, to answer your question – and all ongoing sham Republican investigations of Hillary Clinton aside – Hillary Clinton is most certainly not the platinum standard for communicating with “truth and honor,” however, Donald Trump is not even the formica standard for communicating with “truth and honor.”

  35. DrDaveT says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Hillary Clinton is most certainly not the platinum standard for communicating with “truth and honor,”

    Also, it’s important to remember that truthfulness is not a one-dimensional attribute. There’s a big qualitative difference happening here.

    People like the Clintons lie about themselves, but generally tell the truth about the world.

    People like Cruz and Cheney generally tell the truth about themselves (so far as we can tell), but lie about the world.

    Now, which is more disqualifying in a President? I’d much rather have a privately sleazy President who not only understands reality, but tells it like it is to the nation.

    (Trump lies about everything — or, pace @Hal_10000, BSes about everything.)

  36. David in KC says:

    What was the over/under on the number of comments before “but, but, Hillary?”

  37. al-Ameda says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Also, it’s important to remember that truthfulness is not a one-dimensional attribute. There’s a big qualitative difference happening here.

    Now, which is more disqualifying in a President? I’d much rather have a privately sleazy President who not only understands reality, but tells it like it is to the nation.

    There is a lot of nuance in ‘truthfulness.

    People toss around the term “lying” all the time, so I tend to discount a lot of the allegations of lying. Much of the time, a lot of what people call a ‘lie’ is nothing more than a campaign promise that was not acted upon – hardly a lie, probably the result of political reality. Sometimes what is called a ‘lie’ – Trump’s crowds of Muslims cheering 9/11 – is gross exaggeration, not entirely truthful, but not a ‘lie.’

    I’m with you, though, I’d rather have as president a person who (even if very flawed) understands and acknowledges reality, than one who consistently denies reality and presents him/her self as a paragon of virtue and morality.

  38. CSK says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Well, the thing about Trump isn’t so much that he denies reality but that he inhabits his own self-created reality, and his acolytes have followed him into it.

  39. Jenos Idanian says:

    @David in KC: I apologize; I didn’t realize that a discussion of “who was the biggest liar” automatically excluded discussions of alternative candidates who deserved the title far more.

    I keep forgetting how heretical going against the group-think is around here.