Trump Continues To Lie, The Truth Continues To Die. Does Anyone Care?

Donald Trump continues to lie at a record pace. Does anyone care?

President Trump recently passed his 869th day in office, and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker team marked the occasion by updating their running account of the President’s lies since taking office in January 2017. Needless to say, they found once again that the number of lies this President has told has reached astoundingly high levels. By there count, the number is now up to 10,796 lies since January 20, 2017:

President Trump’s pitter-patter of exaggerated numbers, unwarranted boasting and outright falsehoods has continued at a remarkable pace. As of June 7, his 869th day in office, the president has made 10,796 false or misleading claims, according to the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement the president has uttered.

The president crossed the 10,000 threshold on April 26, and he has been averaging about 16 fishy claims a day since then. From the start of his presidency, he has averaged about 12 such claims a day.

About one-fifth of these claims are about immigration, his signature issue — a percentage that has grown since the government shut down over funding for his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, his most repeated claim — 172 times — is that his border wall is being built. Congress balked at funding the concrete barrier he envisioned, so he has tried to pitch bollard fencing and repairs of existing barriers as “a wall.”
False or misleading claims about trade and the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign each account for about 10 percent of the total.

Trump’s penchant for repeating false claims is demonstrated by the fact that The Fact Checker database has recorded more than 300 instances in which he has repeated a variation of the same claim at least three times. He also now has earned 21 “Bottomless Pinocchios,” claims that have earned Three or Four Pinocchios and which have been repeated at least 20 times.

This is all becoming part of a recurring theme, of course. There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by where, if the President speaks publicly or sends a message out via Twitter, he does not tell a lie, mislead, or simply invent things out of whole cloth. In many cases, of course, these lies are duplicative in the sense that they are things he has lied about before, and which he returns to on a regular basis even when it’s pointed out just how wrong he is. Indeed, at times it seems like pointing out that a lie is a lie only causes the President and his supporters to double down and keep repeating the falsehoods time and time again until they become articles of faith on the right no matter how untrue they are. This is especially true with regard to many of the accusations he has made about Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation. Every now and then, though, something new enters his repertoire and, if he thinks that it works it gets added to the long and growing list of Presidential lies that, sadly, we all seem to have become all too used to over the past two years.

Based on the Post’s numbers as of June 7th, the President is averaging roughly 12.42 lies per day over the 869 days that the Post based its numbers on. If he maintains this average, he will have told an astounding 18,158 lies for the duration of his first term in office. If he maintains this average over the course of two terms, then he will have told just over 36,316 lies over the course of an eight-year Presidency.  As has been the case each time the Post fact-checkers have updated these numbers, this represents a fairly significant increase over where he stood the last time we looked at these numbers in March when I last looked at these numbers or April when James Joyner did the same as Trump passed 10,000 lies. As I said back then while I’m as cynical as the next person when it comes to the tendency of politicians to lie, this is an extraordinary number of lies coming from one person and it’s arguably consistent with the type of person who either does not believe he is obliged to tell the truth or that he is simply so used to lying that it comes as easily to him as putting on a pair of shoes.

In his April post, James questioned whether the method that the Post is using here is a good or fair reflection of the extent of the problem here, pointing out, fairly, that many of the instances counted are ones where the President has made the same false claim on multiple occasions. As I noted in a comment at the time, I think this kind of “double counting” is entirely fair:

1. I would argue it does make sense to count multiple instances of the same lie as a new lie, especially when the media has repeatedly called Trump out on that lie. It shows the brazenness of his fabrication and reveals something important about his personality.

2. Obviously, some lies are bigger than others, but with Trump the fact that it’s a constant drumbeat of lies that are reinforced by his staff and by his supporters [argues in favor of the idea that] even the small ones important.

3. If Trump keeps this pace of lying up, which is likely, he will have told more than 17,600 lies in his first term alone. If he keeps it up through a second term that total will come to more than 34,000. Personally, I expect that pace of lying will continue and most likely accelerate as Democrats continue their investigations and as we get closer to the 2020 election.

The fact that Trump is a liar is hardly a surprise,of course. Even before he became a candidate for President, he had a habit of making things up out of whole cloth about himself, his businesses, and the people that opposed him. Sometimes, the media would point these things out but usually they just led it slide because, well, Trump was a celebrity and he made for what the news business calls “good copy.” Additionally, as long as he ws just some real estate developer in New York City pretending to be far more important and successful than he actually was he wasn’t really a threat to anyone. Indeed, I can say for a fact that most of the media coverage Trump got, especially from the New York City media that knew him so well, was tongue in cheek combined with some not-so-subtle mockery.

Once he became a candidate for office, though, the lying became more serious and more prevalent. In June 2016, for example, 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. More importantly, pointing out the fact that he was lying clearly didn’t matter to his supporters. Indeed, the more Trump lied the more these people loved him, mostly because he was telling them what they wanted to hear.

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. Pretty soon, though, they may need to turn to Watson to help them keep track, especially if Trump manages to get re-elected.

The question that leaves is the one I ask in the post title. Does anyone care that we have a President who is a congenital liar to the point where one has to openly wonder whether he is consciously doing it or whether he living in a fantasy world where he only believes what he’s saying. If the first is true, then he would clearly be suffering from what most psychologists would clearly consider a personality disorder. If it’s the second, then the same would be true except it would be a more serious problem. Either way, we’re clearly dealing with a man who never should have been elected and who should not be President.

FILED UNDER: 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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The question that leaves is the one I ask in the post title. Does anyone care that we have a President who is a congenital liar

    The real problem is not that we have a pathological liar in the White House, but that of our 2 major parties, one is entirely committed to not just trump but absolute proven *falsehoods* top to bottom as an electoral strategy.

    *trickle down economics, tax cuts =increased revenues, job creators, global warming is caused by the sun/doesn’t exist, Iran isn’t holding up their end of the JCPOA, NAFTA=bad USMCA=good, trade wars are easy to win, abortion is murder, good guys with guns will stop bad guys with guns, immigration by brown people is bad, hiring undocumented immigrants is good, regulations are bad, money is speech, voter fraud is everywhere, voter ID is not voter suppression, etc etc ad nauseum. I could go on forever.

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  2. KM says:

    No, they don’t but not for the reasons you think.

    The amount of of self-delusion going on right now with people who seem to think that just removing Trump from office will magically restore us to sanity and we can get back to things like functioning government and ethical norms is absolutely staggering. Of course nobody’s caring about Trump’s lies anymore – he’s going to keep doing it as long as he’s breathing. Short of stopping his air intake, you cannot stop his lies, BS, obfuscations, brain-farts and increasing Alzheimeric ramblings. At this point, learned helplessness has kicked in and everyone’s just trying to run out the clock. The mindset is just get rid of him and we can go back to the way things were. Things will be better once he’s gone and we can go be normal again.

    It’s like listening to abused spouses trying to explain how things will be just *fine* once their spouse’s job settles down, or money troubles cease or whatever it is that’s causing the “aberrant” behavior and provoking the abuse. Their context is situational – *this* bad day caused *this* bruise so if we can avoid them having bad days, maybe there won’t be a black eye in the future. A huge challenge is recognition of the issue being systemic instead of situational, chronic instead of acute. They’re abusive because they’re abusive, not because they had a rough day at work.

    People are looking at Trump like he’s the GOP’s “bad day” when instead he’s just the latest physical manifestation of their chronic issue. Even if you got him to tell nothing but the truth 100% of the time, is that going to change anything?? He’ll still be him, his followers will still love him for getting to act out their deplorable fantasies and a huge segment of the population won’t care either way because he’s not going to be President forever, god just get over it. Just grin and bear it till the next one comes and hopefully we don’t have to repeat the cycle again.

    America’s in an abusive relationship with 30% of her populace and nobody’s offering her a safe house because they expect the relationship to be temporary at best.

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  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    To his supporters, he speaks the truth, for the rest of us, it is assumed that everything, he and the administration say, is a lie until proven otherwise.

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  4. Argon says:

    On the bright side, Trump’s number and frequency of lying makes for a great AI training set. He might becomes the easiest president to simulate algorithmically.

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  5. KM says:

    @Argon:
    I don’t know if I should be horrified that our first true AI might share anything with this menace to intelligence and reason or thrilled that if we really did end up with Skynet or the Matrix, it would be the most incompetent and easily to defeat version possible.

    Either way, our descendants will be wondering what the hell we were smoking….

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  6. MarkedMan says:

    Doug, the answer to the title question is pretty easy. Many people care, some very deeply, but Republicans as a body do not. You have to ask yourself what that says about the character of anyone who calls themselves a Republican. You don’t have to ask yourself that question about anyone who wholeheartedly supports Trump. As someone once said, when someone tells you who they are, believe them.

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  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: One of our local GOP pols–county council–is an acquaintance of mine from teaching who I meet occasionally at charity functions. He doesn’t connect Republican agenda and Trump at all. Trump is an anomaly to him and things will get back to *normal* as soon as Trump is gone. Denial is strong. We have met the enemy and he is us. Most assuredly!

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  8. Paul L. says:

    Obama is a paragon of Truth.

    “Anybody can buy any weapon, any time without much, if any, regulation. They buy it over the internet. They can buy machine guns.”

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  9. gVOR08 says:

    @Paul L.: 18,157 more and you’ve got a tie.

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  10. Kathy says:

    I wonder if he makes up lies in advance or on the spur of the moment?

    Either way, eventually he will say “Nobody knew tariffs could be so damaging!”

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  11. KM says:

    @Paul L. :
    Another’s sins don’t absolve your own – their good deeds don’t gain you passage to Heaven either.

    Reflexive whataboutism can give you carpal tunnel, though. Just sayin’.

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  12. Paul L. says:

    @gVOR08:

    false or misleading claims

    There are 3 lies in Obama’s gun quote.
    Obama’s Uncle liberated Auschwitz.
    Rogue IRS employees in Cincinnati behind targeting of tea party groups.
    “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.”
    You can keep your doctor.
    https://www.politifact.com/personalities/barack-obama/
    Mostly False 71 (12%) (71)
    False 71 (12%) (71)
    Pants on Fire 9 (1%)(9)

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  13. DrDaveT says:

    @Paul L.: So, orders of magnitude more truthful than Trump. What was your point again?

    (And I’d think you would approve of Obama lying about the fact that the IRS Cincinnati office was just doing their job correctly…)

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  14. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I guess no one cares…certainly the cult members, like Paul, don’t care how much he lies. They have bought the con.
    But you can see the damage it does just this past week. Dennison came out with his claim of a secret agreement with Mexico…and just absolutely no one believed him. Well…I’m sure Paul believed him. But no one with a brain.
    So what happens when something major happens…and no one believes him? What’s the potential downside of that? What if allies don’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth? Why should any country in the ME believe anything he says in peace talks? Why should our NATO allies believe he is going to be there in case of an Article 5 action?
    On a personal level…I don’t lie. I don’t see the point…and it only makes remembering the lie a challenge. So it turns my stomach to see the leader of this country lying with impertinence. Kind of tells you a lot about the character of someone like Paul that he defends a liar to the point of embarrassing himself.

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  15. Paul L. says:
  16. Paul L. says:

    The 2012 Benghazi attack was caused by a Youtube video and was not a planned Terrorist attack.

    How many Tea Party groups was convicted of non-profit tax fraud after being caught by the IRS?
    How many Progressive groups were targeted? The Anti choice group Center for Medical Progress said they had no problems with getting non-profit status.

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  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Paul L.:

    Doing their job as Democrat operatives? 1/10 Trolling.

    As usual, I can’t decide which would be sadder — if you actually believe this crap, or if you’re just a troll.

    For the record, the job of that IRS office was to deny 501(c)4 status to explicitly political organizations. So yes, targeting Tea Party (and Communist Party, and Libertarian Party, and any other politically affiliated group) organizations was exactly their job, and they did it pretty well given their limited resources. They applies the same rules to all obvious political organizations, regardless of ideology. I can see why you would think that enforcing the law equally against everyone would make them “Democrat operatives”, given GOP notions of “rule of law”, but that’s the way it is.

    How many Tea Party groups was convicted of non-profit tax fraud after being caught by the IRS?

    Lying on your 501(c)4 application is not criminal fraud; why would anyone be convicted of anything?

    How many Progressive groups were targeted?

    All of them that were politically affiliated*. As Yogi Berra said, “You could look it up.”

    The Anti choice group Center for Medical Progress said they had no problems with getting non-profit status.

    You seem to have a persistent inability to distinguish causes from political affiliation. The tax code doesn’t care whether your organization is for or against abortion or taxation or saving the whales; they care whether your organization’s activities are primarily political — associated with elections and parties and voting — as opposed to social or informational. An organization dedicated to disseminating economics papers from the von Mises institute could qualify just fine for 501(c)4, so long as they don’t start telling people who to vote for, or take part in “get out the vote” activities, etc.

    *Of organizations examined, that is. Not all cheaters are stupid enough to put the name of a political movement in their organizational name, so presumably some do slip through the cracks — on both sides of the aisle.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: I’m not sure why you bother with him. He prefers the lies to real life.

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  19. Paul L. says:

    IRS agents’ testimony: NO progressive groups were targeted by IRS

    Lying on your 501(c)4 application is not criminal fraud; why would anyone be convicted of anything?

    Say hello to 18 U.S. Code § 1001 Lying to federal government agents.

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  20. gVOR08 says:

    Dr K has a column up to the effect that the markets aren’t reacting to Trump as much as they ought to, the fact that Trump is a lying blowhard is by now pretty much baked into the cake:
    Donald and the Delusion Discount
    Markets are treating Trump as crazy but harmless.

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  21. DrDaveT says:

    @Paul L.:

    Say hello to 18 U.S. Code § 1001 Lying to federal government agents.

    18 USC 1001 requires proving that the cheater “knowingly and willfully” lied on the application. That’s a very difficult thing to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, so prosecutions under this section are quite rare. Typically, just revoking the status is all the IRS does.

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  22. DrDaveT says:

    @Paul L.:

    IRS agents’ testimony: NO progressive groups were targeted by IRS

    Despite this being from Daily Caller (and therefore presumptively bogus), it is in this case technically true. Since no groups at all were ‘targeted’, it is therefore true that no progressive groups were targeted. (It isn’t ‘targeting’ to apply extra scrutiny to groups who announce that they are probably not legit.)

    And, again, you are confusing “promoting various beliefs or positions” with “being a political action organization”. It is perfectly possible to be an organization promoting conservative or progressive (or fascist or communist) policies and beliefs, yet be well within the strictures of 501(c)4. Breitbart and Daily Caller deliberately obscure this fact because it doesn’t fit the narrative they want you to swallow.

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  23. Mr Martin says:

    @DrDaveT says:

    Breitbart and Daily Caller deliberately obscure this fact because it doesn’t fit the narrative they want you to swallow.

    In all fairness, this is just one of many things @Paul L. will readily swallow…

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  24. Matt says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Some of those who claim they don’t support Trump still profess the same lies. Most of the “normal” citizens who are right wing gobble this stuff up and regurgitate it on social media. I’ve got more than a few friends that I just can’t talk politics with because they are far off in delusional land where rejection of reality is required. I wish I knew how to reach these people because a lot of them are decent people who are just lost in the ocean of lies.

    @Paul L.: Guns would be one of the very few areas where the left wingers will leave reality behind as witnessed in that statement by Obama and those here when the subject is broached. See the New York times report that the vegas shooter fired 90 rounds in 10 seconds for further evidence…

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  25. Guarneri says:

    “I’ve worked so hard in my career, that I promise you, if I’m elected president you’re gonna see the single most important thing that changes America, we’re gonna cure cancer,” Biden told a crowd in Ottumwa, Iowa on Tuesday.” – Joe Biden

    Yeah, what we need is a truth teller.

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  26. Paul L. says:

    @Mr Martin:

    In all fairness, this is just one of many things @Paul L. will readily swallow…

    Homophobia and Bullying. What a terrible thing to do during Pride Month.

    prosecutions under [18 U.S. Code § 1001] are quite rare.

    Tell that to Michael Dean Cohen, Martha Stewart, Rod Blagojevich, Michael T. Flynn, Rick Gates, Scooter Libby, Bernard Madoff, and Jeffrey Skilling.

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  27. Paul L. says:

    @Matt:

    “Crooked Hillary wants to abolish the Second Amendment”

    Democrats: This is a outrageous lie. We do not support abolishing the Second Amendment. The Second amendment is about the police and state national guard units being armed. It is not about allowing civilians to possess weapons of war (semi-automatic guns, shields, swords and spears).

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  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Paul L.: Well once, sure, but not since the strict constructionists and textualists decided that the whole “well regulated militia” thing was just confusing and threw it out. As is well known, Madison and the boys had trouble constructing a clear English declarative sentence, so the only way to discern their original intent is by channeling them and cherry picking history.

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  29. Paul L. says:

    @gVOR08:

    trouble constructing a clear English declarative sentence

    Right of people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    Justice Stevens
    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

    prosecutions under [18 U.S. Code § 1001] are quite rare.

    Rare? Steve Stockman was just prosecuted under [18 U.S. Code § 1001] .

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  30. gVOR08 says:

    @Paul L.: “People” and “the people” are different things in this context. In fact, the crux of the argument. In order to support your point, you misquoted your own quote.

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  31. Paul L. says:

    @gVOR08:
    1st: the right of the people peaceably to assemble – Only Government employees can have rallies.
    4th: The right of the people to be secure… Only Government documents are private.

    Misquoted

    AMENDMENT II

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    I regret the error.

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