Trump Continues To Lie, The Truth Continues To Die
President Trump has told an astonishingly large number of lies since taking office.
The Washington Post’s fact checkers are back with one of their periodic updates on the President’s veracity or lack thereof, and the numbers are pretty surprising even for this President:
In the 466 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 3,001 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.
That’s an average of nearly 6.5 claims a day.
When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. Slowly, the average number of claims has been creeping up.
Indeed, since we last updated this tally two months ago, the president has averaged about 9 claims a day.
Our interactive graphic, created with the help of Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of The Washington Post’s graphics department, displays a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump. We also catalogued the president’s many flip-flops, since those earn Upside-Down Pinocchios if a politician shifts position on an issue without acknowledging that he or she did so.
Trump has a proclivity to repeat, over and over, many of his false or misleading statements. We’ve counted at least 113 claims that the president has repeated at least three times, some with breathtaking frequency.
Seventy-two times, the president has falsely claimed he passed the biggest tax cut in history — when in fact it ranks in eighth place. Fifty-three times, the president has made some variation of the claim that the Russia probe is a made-up controversy. (If you include other claims about the Russia probe that are not accurate, the count goes to 90.) Forty-one times, the president has offered a variation of the false claim that Democrats do not really care about the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump terminated.
Thirty-four times, the president has wrongly asserted that a border wall was needed to stop the flow of drugs across the southern border, even though the Drug Enforcement Administration says a wall would not limit this illegal trade, as much of it travels through legal borders or under tunnels unaffected by any possible physical barrier.
Thirteen times in the past five weeks, Trump has claimed his long-promised border wall is already being built, even though Congress denied him the funding and prohibited the use of prototypes he had viewed with great fanfare.
Of course, not every day is filled with falsehoods, but the president makes up for his slow days with days that offer an extraordinary number of misleading claims — such as 53 on July 25, 2017, or 49 on Nov. 29, 2017. These are often days when the president has had a series of freewheeling interviews or given a campaign-rally-style speech.
For example, only days ago, on April 28, Trump racked up 44 claims, many of which came from the president’s 80-minute speech in Michigan.
Looking at the numbers, it gets even worse. As of today, President Trump has been in office for 469 days. Based on the Post’s numbers, this makes for an average of 6.4 false or misleading statements per day. This would bring him to roughly 9,492 such statements at the end of his first term and 18,765 false or misleading statements at the end of a hypothetical second term. Even conceding the argument that some of the “false or misleading” statements that the Post has cataloged are judgment calls, this is an extraordinary number that likely far surpasses anything that we’ve seen from any of Trump’s predecessors.
According to a new poll, the vast majority of the American public has come to expect this from the President:
A majority of Americans think that President Trump either rarely or never tells the truth, according to an NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll released Wednesday.
Overall, 61 percent of respondents to the online poll believe that Trump tells the truth “only some of the time or less.”
The survey results came a day after The Washington Post’s Fact Checker reported that Trump has made more than 3,000 false or misleading statements since taking office last year.
Perceptions of the president’s honesty are largely divided along party lines.
According to the NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, 94 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of independents believe that Trump tells the truth only occasionally or even less frequently.
Republicans, on the other hand, overwhelmingly view Trump as a consistent truth-teller. Seventy-six percent said that he tells the truth either all or most of the time, while 22 percent believe that he tells the truth only some of the time or less.
Among that 22 percent, more than half approve of Trump’s job in the Oval Office, the poll found.
The survey overall pegged Trump’s approval rating at 45 percent. By comparison, 53 percent of respondents disapprove of the job Trump is doing.
The party division regarding the President’s truthfulness isn’t surprising. As we’ve seen from other polling, the vast majority of Republicans approve of the job the President is doing while the same overwhelming majority of Democrats disapprove. Among independents, the majority of whom believe the President lies on a regular basis, the number of people who disapprove of the President’s job performance is slightly higher than it is among the general population. Taking these numbers into account, the fact that Republicans believe that the President generally tells the truth isn’t surprising given the fact that they think he’s doing a good job. What’s is somewhat surprising is that at least some segment of the people who believe the President is basically a congenital liar also approve of the job he’s doing. There’s a disconnect there that doesn’t entirely make sense.
Taking into account the extent to which the President clearly makes things up, whether it’s during one of his campaign-style rallies, during an interview, or on Twitter, it’s not at all surprising that he has fared so badly with the fact-checkers. From the start of his campaign, he’s made false and easily disproven claims about Mexicans and crime, about immigrants in general, about Muslims, and about policy issues ranging from international trade to foreign policy to history, there are few politicians who have been quite as skilled as Donald Trump when it comes to being able to lie so easily and so frequently and make it seem as though he believes what he’s saying, or that he simply doesn’t care if it’s true or not. This is a skill he honed during the time he was considered a “celebrity” prior to the time he became 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. If Trump learned from that experience is that it largely did not matter if the claims he 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 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 reporters, 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 he decide to issue one of the several “boycotts” that he’s engaged in over the course of the campaign. 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 Trump’s mercurial reprisal efforts.
All that being said, Trump’s liberties with the truth, even when pointed out by the media, have not had 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. Now, as we approach his first year and a half in office, all we can be sure of is that the lying will continue and his supporters will continue to not give a damn.