Fact Checker Finds 78% Of The Factual Claims Donald Trump Has Made Are False

Truth? Donald Trump can't handle the truth.

Donald Trump Shrug

As it turns out, a lot of the things Donald Trump says are, quite simply, not true:

PolitiFact, the nonpartisan fact-checking outlet based in Florida, is out today with its mid-year report on the 2016 election. It’s an attempt to take a step back from the day-to-day grind of the campaign and see which candidates are telling the truth and which aren’t.

Donald Trump isn’t.

Of the 158 Trump claims that PolitiFact has checked out, 95 have been rated either “False” or “Pants on Fire.” That’s 60 percent of all Trump claims. As PolitiFact notes, if you include the Trump statements rated “mostly false” in that group, 78 percent of all of Trump’s fact-checked claims have been scored “mostly false” or worse.

That’s not even the most amazing fact in the PolitiFact report. That honor goes to this: “Trump has more statements rated Pants on Fire, 30, than the 21 other candidates for president we’ve fact-checked this cycle combined.” Ben Carson comes in second in “Pants on Fire” ratings — with four!

Now, there’s some context that’s necessary here. Trump was the most fact-checked of all the 2016 candidates. Of the 650 fact checks PolitiFact conducted, 158 were on Trump — good for 24 percent of the total. Hillary Clinton was fact-checked 120 times over that same period, approximately 18 percent of the total. As PolitiFact notes, the number of Trump fact checks is to be expected because “he made himself more available on television in the early part of his campaign than his Democratic or Republican rivals. Trump also participated in more debates (11 by our count) than either of the top Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.”

So, yes, Trump has been fact-checked 38 more times than Clinton. And, yes, PolitiFact was the one deciding what statements to fact check. This is not a comprehensive guide to the relative truthfulness of every word uttered by Trump or Clinton in this campaign. But, the number of times his statements have been ruled “false” or “pants on fire” is still substantially higher than it is for her.

(…)

As of July 1, The Washington Post Fact Checker — the duo of Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee — has fact-checked 46 statements by Donald Trump. Thirty-two of those (70 percent) have been awarded Four Pinocchios, meaning that the statement is a “whopper” as defined by Kessler and Lee. (You can see all of Trump’s Four Pinocchio claims here.)

Given the extent to which Donald Trump clearly makes things up while he’s speaking, whether it’s during a media appearance on cable television or during one of his campaign rallies, it’s hardly surprising that he’s fared so badly when it comes to the fact-checkers. Whether it has been his claims about Mexicans and crime, his claims about immigrants in general, his claims about Muslims, or his claims about policy issues ranging from international trade to foreign policy to history, there are few candidates who have been quite as skilled as Donald Trump in making up facts that happen to support his claims. It’s a skill he honed during his long period of celebrity prior to becoming a candidate for President when his brash, obviously exaggerated claims about his own business success would be slavishly repeated by the media rather investigated to see if they were actually true. Indeed, one lesson that Trump seemed to learn from that era is that it largely did not matter if the claims you made in the media were true or not. For the most part, the people reporting the “news” about Trump back then were not inclined to check just how much of what he said was true. Indeed, given the fact that it was his status as an ostentatious celebrity that caused the public to tune in or buy newspapers and magazines when they covered him, it was not in their interest to deflate him, but rather to build him up since the relationship between celebrities and the media that covers them is largely a symbiotic one where the media benefits by inflating the ego of the celebrity, and the celebrity benefits by letting the media cover him or or her.

From these years, Trump no doubt learned the lesson that making things up didn’t really matter because the media wasn’t going to check anyway, and he has carried that lesson over to his political career. Things are a bit different when it comes to political reporter, of course, but the fact that Trump was, from the beginning such a high ratings draw for all the cable news outlets means that they were much less inclined to challenge his factual assertions lest his decide to issue one of the several “boycotts” that he’s engaged in over the course of the past year. Those media outlets that have challenged him on the facts, such as The Des Moines Register, The Washington Post, and even Fox News Channel have found themselves subjected to one of a Trump’s mercurial reprisal efforts. It’s enough to make one wonder how a Trump Administration would treat the notoriously adversarial White House Press Corps.

All that being said, Trumps liberties with the truth, even when pointed out by the media, did not have much of an impact on his political fortunes. His die hard supporters, quite obviously, don’t care about something as apparently trivial as the fact that the candidate they support is a proven liar, for example, and neither do the Republicans who have rallied behind him in the wake of his clinching of the nomination. What the rest of America thinks about it will be a huge question as we head into the final four months of this campaign.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Politicians, 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. Gustopher says:

    Elwood: Well, what was I gonna do? Take away your only hope? Take away the very thing that kept you going in there? I took the liberty of bullshitting you, okay?

    Jake: You lied to me.

    Elwood: It wasn’t a lie, it was just bullshit.

  2. Rafer Janders says:

    the notoriously adversarial White House Press Corps.

    AHAHAHAHAHA!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    the notoriously adversarial White House Press Corps.

    Ah yes, the famously adversarial WH Press Corps, the same one that blew the lid off the asleep at the switch 9/11 scandal / the fake WMD scandal / the Hurricane Katrina pratfall / the Bush prosecutors’ scandal / the 2008 financial meltdown stories and so many more……oh,wait, what? It did none of those things? It mainly functions as a steno pool for White House press conferences…..?

  4. CSK says:

    Any Trumpkin will tell you that Politifact and the Washington Post (or the WaPoo, as they call it) and Fox, for that matter, are in the tank for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

    That is absolutely what they believe.

  5. Moosebreath says:

    “All that being said, Trumps liberties with the truth, even when pointed out by the media, did not have much of an impact on his political fortunes. His die hard supporters, quite obviously, don’t care about something as apparently trivial as the fact that the candidate they support is a proven liar, for example, and neither do the Republicans who have rallied behind him in the wake of his clinching of the nomination. What the rest of America thinks about it will be a huge question as we head into the final four months of this campaign.”

    Judging from those who believe that Hillary, and not Trump, is the candidate with “trust” issues (including at times James), it seems to be working out fairly well for Trump.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    How do you create policy when 78% of the things you think are just plain wrong?
    And how do you deal with world leaders when they can’t trust a word you say?

  7. James Joyner says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Judging from those who believe that Hillary, and not Trump, is the candidate with “trust” issues (including at times James), it seems to be working out fairly well for Trump.

    I don’t trust the Clintons. Never have. Trump seems to have no regard for the truth at all. Those are not mutually incompatible positions; they merely present an unpleasant set of alternatives.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    At the link WAPO notes, “But, the number of times his statements have been ruled “false” or “pants on fire” is still substantially higher than it is for her.” but failed to mention a number for her. As Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story:

    Percentage of checked statements rated False or Pants on Fire during campaign:
    Trump: 60%
    Clinton: 13%

    All politicians lie.She seems to lie a good deal less than most.

  9. Paul L. says:

    Selection Bias
    @CSK:
    http://hopelesslypartisan.com/why-i-laugh-at-politifact-com/

    Here, fresh from Hillary-2016 Campaign Headquarters…er, the “politifact.com wing of the liberal/left Tampa Bay Tribune, is its carefully thought out, 100% neutral (just ask them) conclusion on whether Hillary Clinton ever sent or received classified information on her personal server:

    Half-True.

  10. Mister Bluster says:

    “I hate Illinois Nazis!”
    —————

    “British politicians used to be good at misleading people without actually lying. And that particular discipline has been abandoned in this campaign.”
    British Economist Tim Harford lamenting the outcome of a recent poll in the UK on NPR’s Planet Money.

  11. Pete S says:

    The thing is when his supporters hear what they want to hear from him they assume it is the truth. It would be kind of funny if there was no chance he could be elected. But there is a chance so really it is scary as he’ll that they have been suckered.

  12. CSK says:

    @Paul L.:

    Can you cite me something a bit more authoritative than someone’s blog?

  13. Mister Bluster says:

    British Economist Tim Harford appearing on NPR’s Planet Money lamenting the outcome of a recent poll in the UK.

    (The poll was not about NPR or Planet Money.)

  14. CSK says:

    Slightly OT, but the Trump Fan Club is enraged at Paul Ryan for not impeaching Clinton and trying her for treason.

  15. grumpy realist says:

    @CSK: Uh, wot? Aside from the fact that impeachment doesn’t work that way, neither does treason….

  16. Paul L. says:

    @CSK:
    Maybe you can refute the point.
    Or you still believe that Hillary Clinton never sent or received classified information on her personal email servers or Dodged sniper fire in Bosnia

  17. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    So what? It’s TrumpWorld, where RINO traitor Commie globalist Paul Ryan does the bidding of Barack Obama. Anything is possible, even the impossible.

  18. Pch101 says:

    I suppose that Trump learned from his business career that pretending to know something is more convenient than taking the time to learn about it, and preferable to acknowledging that you don’t know it.

    Lying comes naturally to him, he’s just never had to worry about it before. And it hasn’t done him much harm on the campaign trail, either, so what incentive does he have to change?

  19. CSK says:

    @Paul L.:

    Paul, my point was that if you have to go to some obscure blog to prove a point, you’ve not proven it.

  20. Mebane says:

    I am no Trump fan, but some of the things PolitiFact says were false were in fact true, as law professor Eugene Volokh notes in the Washington Post:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/07/05/fact-checking-politifacts-fact-check-of-trumps-crime-is-rising-claim/

    For example, Volokh notes that crime has in fact been rising since 2014, just as Trump claimed, even though PolitiFact claimed that was “pants on fire” false.

    Saying something that has even some evidentiary support is not a lie, much less “pants on fire,”

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @Mebane: Oh no, preliminary data shows we may have a small uptick in some crime in the last year so so Trump is technically correct if we give him enough slack. Volokh sounds like Chuckles Krauthammer claiming there’s no global warming because the noisy data hit a huge peak in due toan El Nino in1999 or whenever and we haven’t had a warmer year since. Now that we have had a couple of warmer years Chuckles has been quiet. You can’t make statements about trends from one years data.

  22. James Pearce says:

    @gVOR08:

    Oh no, preliminary data shows we may have a small uptick in some crime in the last year so so Trump is technically correct if we give him enough slack.

    Yeah, my thought too.

    I particularly loved this though:

    They didn’t point to the data that suggests that Trump may have been literally accurate as to recent violent crime, even if one can plausibly argue that the 25-year trend is more important than the current 1.25-year possible upswing.

    Plausibly?

    At any rate, while Volokh is being overly generous to Trump, his biggest mistake is ignoring the context. Trump didn’t just say “Crime is rising.” There was more:

    America is being taken apart piece by piece . . . just rapidly auctioned off to the highest bidder. We’re broke. We’re broke. [Our debt is] $19 trillion, going quickly to $21 trillion. Our infrastructure is a disaster. Our schools are failing. Crime is rising. People are scared.

    If Trump had said “Violent crime has gone up 1.7% after a steady 25 year decline,” would it still sound as scary?

  23. anjin-san says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t trust the Clintons

    In spite of that, Bill Clinton’s two terms in office were a pretty good time for America. Certainly much better than what we have seen in this century…

  24. Hal_10000 says:

    Fact-checking Trump misses the point. As I’ve said before, he’s a BSer. He simply doesn’t care what’s true or not. He says whatever pops into his head. If any of it is true, that’s just a coincidence.

  25. Liberal Capitalist says:

    As it turns out, a lot of the things Donald Trump says are, quite simply, not true

    As it turns out, no one is surprised at all.

    As it turns out, Trumpkins don’t have a problem with that.

    Bug? Feature !!!

  26. James Pearce says:

    @anjin-san:

    In spite of that, Bill Clinton’s two terms in office were a pretty good time for America.

    Having just watched ESPN’s OJ documentary, and reflecting on the times, the music, the culture, etc, etc, I have to say: No it was not.

    But it wasn’t Clinton’s fault. He did the best he could do, and in the end, he did alright.

  27. SenyorDave says:

    @Hal_10000: As I’ve said before, he’s a BSer. He simply doesn’t care what’s true or not.

    I always thought that Bill Clinton was an example of a BSer. He’s the type of guy who’ll play golf and shoot a 95,and claim he shot an 89 just because he thinks I plausible, and its just stretching things a bit. Trump seems to be that rare type of liar who doesn’t differentiate in any way between truth and lying. I suspect he would pass a lie detector test because he really doesn’t see any difference.

  28. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “I don’t trust the Clintons. Never have.”

    Perhaps this should give you reason to reconsider your assumptions.

  29. grumpy realist says:

    A gem from Dolly Parton:

    I try not to get political but if I am, I might as well just run myself ’cause I’ve got the hair for it, it’s huge, and they could always use more boobs in the race.

  30. Stan says:

    @James Joyner: “I don’t trust the Clintons.”

    The Clintons, Bill by birth and Hillary by marriage, are members of an endangered species, moderate southerners. Politicians of their type used to flourish. Starting in 1928, virtually every Democratic presidential ticket consisted of a liberal northerner and a moderate southerner. Al Smith and Joe Robinson, Adlai Stevenson and John Sparkman, John Kerry and John Edwards, the list is endless. When it came to race, the moderate southerners tried to do good by stealth. They were masters at fudging issues. Bill Clinton is no exception, and neither is Hillary. They’re tricky types. But I never doubted that they both stood for racial equality at a time and place when that took real courage. To my mind that excuses a lot, particularly when the Republicans are about to nominate a moral monster for president.

  31. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CSK: And now, so is the FBI. We are sooooo hosed.

  32. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @CSK: On the other hand, Paul Ryan is enraged that Hillary wasn’t charges with a felony, so I guess it evens out.

  33. DrDaveT says:

    I don’t trust the Clintons. Never have.

    Don’t trust them to do what?

    Among adults, it’s not an all or nothing. I have colleagues that I do not trust to clean out the microwave when they make a mess in it — but that I trust to not publish bad research. I don’t trust my parents to tell me the truth about their health, but I do trust them in most other ways.

    I wouldn’t trust the Clintons in a real estate deal, or a business partnership. I do trust them to try to do the best thing for America, and to have some clue what that should be. Why is that so hard for some people to understand?

  34. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @anjin-san: @anjin-san: Yep…..great time to be a white liberal techie. The rest of us that weren’t already rich got corn holed. Thanks Bill!

  35. anjin-san says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Back in the 90’s, I was still in the bar business, making considerably less than I do now. I was not nearly as liberal as I am now. It was still a good time.

    You are going to need to put a little more meat on that bone…

  36. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Stan: Yeah….Bill sucked alot of us in. We even complimented him by calling him the First Black President. But hind sight is pretty clear…he pulled a Reagan in cutting public assistance to those who needed it…caving to unsubstantiated claims of Fraud. He expanded the Prison Industrial Complex in the name of “Law and Order”. 20 years later over a million people of color are jailed…and finally, he pushed NAFTA. Which in effect created the fodder for his prisons from all the displaced blue collar black men and women who were never going to find a niche in a smaller, white-collar job market.

    I’ll be fair to the guy since I voted for him….he probably didn’t mean for those things to happen…but dammit he shoulda known and had contingency plans. His short sightedness contributed to alot of ruined lives. He talks a great game though.

  37. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @anjin-san: The economy outside of the tech boom was not that great. This was right in the middle of NAFTA implementation…all kinds of jobs were being outsourced. People of color, were by and large, not part of the boom. We arent well represented TODAY in STEM jobs…after 20 years of increases. I’ll let you in on a secret: Hedge Funds weren’t throwing money at non whites to build internet startups in the 90s. And the little bit of a beachhead we finally established in light manufacturing and administration was shipped overseas —because we’re the last hired but first fired. So I get it….Clinton was good for some just like Reagan was good for some. But let’s not whitewash the Clinton legacy…his policies created terrible imbalances in vulnerable minority communities…the very communities that overwhelmingly supported him. Reagan and the Republican party don’t claim to want minority support so you’d expected damaging policy from them.

  38. Kylopod says:

    @SenyorDave:

    I suspect he would pass a lie detector test because he really doesn’t see any difference.

    I suspect he would pass a lie detector test because he’s a psychopath.

  39. Davebo says:

    @James Joyner:

    Who could blame you James. After all, she killed Vince Foster, he got a hummer and don’t forget Benghazi and Email gate.

    Hell, a well informed voter such as yourself should be torn. Perhaps you could adorn us with a future post about how you realize Trump is full of shit and your anxiety about Clinton contains the same baggage you’ll drudgingly vote for Trump because paychecks are good.

    The question is, will you go away afterwards?

    Good Fucking Grief!

  40. steve says:

    Fact Checker Finds 78% Of The Factual Claims Donald Trump Has Made Are False

    Fact Checker Finds 78% Of The Scientific Claims Republicans Make Are False

    Fact Checker Finds 78% Of The Economic Claims Republicans Make Are False

    Fact Checker Finds 78% Of The Republicans Don’t Give A Shit

  41. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:
  42. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: There’s no link. It’s a typo.

  43. steve s says:

    Fortunately, Republicans can’t elect a President without the assistance of others in the nation.

    That’s why I’m delighted that Trump is mowing down latino support. Nobody wants to go to the convention, the candidate is broke, he’s kicking out the fastest growing minority group in the country, george will just left the party, they’re going to lose the presidency again, the senate again, and the SCOTUS *forever*, RWNJ sites are now attacking Gowdy and Comey, white college grads have been leaving the GOP for 10 years now, and Gretchen Carlson is about to publicly reveal the GOP leadership, aka FoxNews, to be criminal harassers…

    The GOP isn’t coming apart at the seams. It’s not a teddy bear. It’s a spaceship. And all the lights on the bridge are red, sparks are flying, a disembodied voice is counting backwards, and the camera shot just did a jump-cut to the outside of the ship motionless in space. Guess what comes next?

  44. Thomas Weaver says:

    What is written in this article is mostly opinion, very little actual fact(s). So, without doubt most of it is B.S.

  45. Tony W says:

    Saw this today on Reddit:

    Here’s 50 tweets of Trump denying global warming
    https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/418542137899491328 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/349973299889057792 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/316252016190054400 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/475668993928212480 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/435574043354611712 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/270628609817976834 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/435393088383889408 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/412159674042294272 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/326875628966117376 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/349973845228269569 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/512246203967619072 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/338448296022511618 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/488825209189711873 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/427226424987385856 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/417818392826232832 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/488926006225285120 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/431018674695442432 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/428418323660165120 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/653385381526806528 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/404420095113715712 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/408977616926830592 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/319377285687939072 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/428416406280241153 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/408380302206443520 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/521862351218573312 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/489381851350319107 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/407505938774757376 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/568387798924963840 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/493935815207043072 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/420333882597466112 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/450964791985971200 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/326874524576526337 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/422819593120256000 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/568021533131718656 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/408018451362766849 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/416909004984844288 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/334254335116587008 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/535102735830773760 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/338978381636984832 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/428954382915223552 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/417816035107299328 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/264010129106665472 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/488813607958757376 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/264007296970018816 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/427556692109574146 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/412162068989874176 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/372781203239104512 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/440811151283486720 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/326781792340299776 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/408983789830815744 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/416539702096052224 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/338429342646423553 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/402217536751951872 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/423179182198104064 https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/314744479821205505