Fact-checkers find Trump’s latest attacks against Clinton ‘rife with distortion’

REUTERS/Mike Segar
I was slightly relieved, on a personal level, but still just as horrified for what the rise of Trump says about the health of our American experiment with democracy, when the fact-checkers started wading through the speech.

I honestly do worry that I’m getting dangerously obsessed with Mr. Trump. I also worry that I might pass the point from which I can be fair to him, in my writing, if he happens to say something factual or rational or deserving of respect, but I will continue to look for such opportunities.

Yesterday, when he gave a televised address holding Hillary Clinton responsible for pretty much everything that’s wrong in the world, and then when I heard that address described by CNN journalists as serious, substantive and “presidential,” I went a little crazy and denounced the speech as “almost 100 percent … new, special, great again, Trumpian … hyperbole and oversimplification, mixed with well-documented lies he has long been repeating.”

After getting that off my chest, I was, as I said just above, worried that my growing horror over the political success of Trumpism had biased my perceptions. So I was slightly relieved, on a personal level, but still just as horrified for what the rise of Trump says about the health of our American experiment with democracy, when the fact-checkers started wading through the speech.

Here’s the fact-check assembled by the Associated Press, a news organization generally viewed as at the cautious, unbiased, nothing-but-the-facts, eat-your-spinach portion of the spectrum. I’ve never seen an AP piece like this and I’ve never seen a harsher review of the honesty/facticity of a major address by a serious presidential candidate.

Please click through and read the whole thing. If you don’t, here are a couple of low/highlights, contained in the first section of the AP piece, which gave credit to 10 different AP journalists who checked various Trump statements (and, bear in mind, the excerpt below is less than a fourth of the whole piece and you should really read the whole thing. Trump’s contempt for facts and honesty is breathtaking):

Donald Trump’s fierce denunciation of Hillary Clinton on Wednesday was rife with distortion.

He accused Clinton of announcing a withdrawal from Iraq that wasn’t on her watch, pulled numbers out of nowhere on her plan for refugees and went beyond the established facts behind the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya in stating starkly that she ‘left him there to die.’ In doing so, he assigned her far more influence in the world than she exercised as secretary of state.

A look at some of his assertions and how they stack up with the facts:

TRUMP: ‘In just four years, Secretary Clinton managed to almost single-handedly destabilize the entire Middle East.’ He blamed her for an invasion of Libya that ‘handed the country over to ISIS,’ for making Iran the dominant Islamic power in the region and for supporting regime change in Syria that led to a bloody civil war. He charged that her ‘disastrous strategy’ of announcing a departure date from Iraq created another opening for ISIS there.

THE FACTS: These statements make only passing acquaintance with reality.

There was no U.S. invasion of Libya. Clinton initially opposed but then sought credit for the NATO-led air campaign to help rebels overthrow Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. (Trump spoke in support of U.S. intervention at the time.) While the violence destabilized Libya, Islamic State inroads there have been more recent and are largely limited to a small coastal area of the country.

Arguments about Iranian domination of the Middle East predate Clinton’s tenure, going back a decade to the George W. Bush administration’s deposing of Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq.

While secretary of state, Clinton supported arming Syria’s moderate rebels, but the Islamic State group only arrived later. It’s unclear what effect such a policy would have had as President Barack Obama rejected the advice at the time.

And she had nothing to do with the ‘disastrous strategy’ of giving a departure date from Iraq. It was the George W. Bush administration that announced the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2008.

Comments (15)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/23/2016 - 02:54 pm.

    Shades of truth

    Political candidates being what they are, and wanting to secure every vote they can possibly get, we have a two-centuries-plus history of candidates casting aspersions of one kind or another on their opponents, while simultaneously selectively enhancing their own positions and actions to reflect positively on themselves. In previous cases, in previous centuries, those aspersions and boasts have usually had at least a nodding acquaintance with fact and reality.

    Having written is candidacy off long ago in the context of someone actually knowing what he was talking about, I don’t/can’t quite muster the degree of obsession with Mr. Trump that Eric manifests. That said, however, I can’t recall (and I lived through the Nixon years) a candidate who has proven himself to be at the level of bald-faced lying that Mr. Trump has demonstrated. To say that his statements generally exhibit flawed research is being generous. They generally exhibit no research at all. Trump is a serial, purposeful, ego-driven liar, whose demonstrated knowledge of policy areas typically under the purview of the federal government approaches zero. He should not be seriously considered or the presidency, or for any other public office, by voters with functioning brains.

  2. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 06/23/2016 - 03:29 pm.

    We should not be surprised.

    Facts have never been important to the GOP. They Limbaugh, Hannity, Bachmann, and Trump on their side. If they repeat it enough they hope their fiction will become the truth in the mind of the voters. You can see how that has worked with the Trump supporters – facts are unimportant.

    I still think Trump is in this only for the ego pumping he gets out of all the attention. Trump is just like a small child. Attention is good. It doesn’t matter if it is good attention or bad attention as long as he gets attention.

  3. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/23/2016 - 04:27 pm.

    And stepping up to the plate…

    To defend Donald Trump:

    Buhler…

    Buhler…

    Buhler…

    It is a given that MinnPost has a decidedly left leaning readership; yet, NO ONE seems to have any interest in a full hearted Trump defense despite months of opportunity to do so.

    At the same time, states that we see as similar to our own: PA and OH are ruled electoral tossups with millions of committed Trump supporters.

    HRC may not be Abe Lincoln like in her relationship with the truth; but, I challenge anyone to point out someone who lies more frequently than Donald Trump short of Kim Jong-un.

    The greatest shortcoming of our current political system is the absolute freedom from any kind of consequences for lies and distortions to the point that if a lie backs up someone’s ideology they are cheered and urged to lie even bigger and more frequently.

    And the interesting part is, if, businessman Donald Trump said “Breathing the air in a Steve Wynn casino will give you Herpes” he would be sued and lose millions/billions of dollars. Make the same outrageous claims in a political speech and all is OK. The law protects the integrity of even the most mundane of everyday products, and yet the integrity of our electoral process is left to the whims of charlatans.

    Of course, I could be wrong about Mr. Trump and I eagerly await a full throated defense of the man from one of his supporters out there. With nearly 50 million pages visits a month to MinnPost there must be one of you out there?

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/23/2016 - 06:11 pm.

    I hope that you are not implying

    that progressives see anything desirable in Donald Trump.
    And in our legal system civil lawsuits are based on monetary loss (even lives have dollar amounts placed on them in wrongful death suits).
    So for someone to sue a politician for making knowingly untruthful statement, one would have to prove that one suffered a financial loss as a direct consequence.
    There are fair elections practices regulations, but they are much weaker.
    So, for better or worse, one cannot sue a politician for libel or slander regarding statements made in a political campaign. The assumption is that enforcement will be the province of a knowledgeable electorate — a scary assumption!

  5. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 06/23/2016 - 10:15 pm.

    Half throated

    There is no legitimate defense for Donald Trump’s candidacy IMHO. By today’s standards, he might be qualified tyo be a Senator, a Congressman or a Governor (but not a dog catcher, dogs deserve better). But to explain why none of his supporters might mount a defense on the pages of MinnPost or any other publication, I can offer at least an explanation.

    Recently, I had occasion to learn that a rather close relative of mine was a “Trumpster” (her term, not mine). My relative was initially rather reluctant to admit her view or that she had voted in a recent primary (not Minnesota) for Trump. She also admitted that she remained open to having her opinion being changed. I intend to work on that.

    But what struck me were my relative’s reasons for liking Trump. Some of these have been bandied about in the media and were easily dismissed. Even by her. I won’t go into that because the thing that struck me as overshadowing all was my relative’s fear of Muslims. For my relative, Muslims (and Islam) is all about fear. Fear of Muslims, based on the threat of decapitation of Americans or anyone who is not Muslim and the alleged threat of Sharia law being imposed somehow in American society.

    The candidacy of Donald Trump is the logical conclusion of the Republican Party’s campaign of fear for the last 15 years, if not the last 30 years since Ronnie ran for the office. The most craven exploitation of fear was the exploitation of such fear for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. My relative’s issues are probably not anywhere near representative of the other parts of Trumps’ support which are based on irrationality or absurdity. How does anyone know what part of the Trump’s support is based on fear of aliens taking over the globe? Or vampires or werewolves stalking us? In all seriousness, the idea of “fear itself” is in danger of sending a completely unqualified and dangerous narcissist to the White House.

    But my “half throated defense” is: how do you convince my relative that her fears (and those of other “Trumpsters) are completely irrational and absurd? or, if not not “irrational and absurd” but indefensible? If not defensible on rational grounds, why aren’t they at least somewhat true? It’s not people like me that have to be convinced. It’s the voters of this country who have been lied to and propagandized on behalf of “conservative” causes for the past 30 years who must be convinced that Trump doesn’t represent the “savior of his country.”

  6. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/24/2016 - 11:23 am.

    I agree…

    I have argued the point that random lightning strikes are statistically a much greater threat to US citizens than radical Islamic terrorism (I said the words!). And if you need something to worry about, focus on cancer because you are 3000 times more at risk of dying from cancer than radical Islamic terrorism (again!).

    Do the tax payer dollar math and it is even crazier: 3500 US soil deaths due to radical Islamic terrorism (again and again!). Our spending on the war on terror to date: 5 trillion dollars. Long division tells us that comes out to about 150 billion per death.

    Since 2001 we have had about 225,000 US deaths due to lung cancer related to radon gas poisoning. We have about 140 million households in the US. The typical cost of radon mitigation is $1,200. And the math of that: spend 3% of what we have spent on radical Islamic terrorism (again and again and again!) and we wipe out lung cancer related to radon gas poisoning and 225,000 citizens still walk the streets, paying taxes and contributing to the civic good.

    But no politician will ever get elected on solving the radon gas problem. Politicians get elected by scaring the hell out of us and radical Islamic terrorists (again and again and again and again!) lurking in the corner of every mosque is a lot scarier than an invisible gas in the basement.

    And, hopefully this makes it past MinnPost censors, who are the most prime candidates to fall prey to politicians selling fear?

    The STUPID.

    Try explaining that to all those closet Trump supporters out there.

  7. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 06/24/2016 - 02:27 pm.

    Eric, thanks for highlighting one of the fact-checking sources for us.
    We have to keep fact checking in the foreground, and for everything the man says (We all know that Secretary Clinton tells more truths than lies).

  8. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/24/2016 - 08:18 pm.

    Here’s a link

    to my favorite fact checker: FactCheck.org, run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, also a well regarded source without political attachments.

    http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/what-evidence-do-you-have/

  9. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 06/28/2016 - 12:56 pm.

    obsessed? Along with the rest of the echo chamber….

    Meanwhile – we have a democrat who is running to be president who would make Richard Nixon blush.

  10. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/28/2016 - 09:33 pm.

    And some more

    of those nasty fact things:
    http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/trump-on-clintons-tax-plans/

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/29/2016 - 04:14 pm.

    Just a tad obsessed

    Actually, I don’t remember the last time I read a Black Ink entry because they’ve almost all been about Trump… but that’s just me. I didn’t read this one either because I’ve known for decades that Trump comes from a world where being knowledgeable, honest, and above average in intelligence are irrelevant qualities. His demand to see Obama’s birth cert years ago was all I ever needed to know in order to evaluate his intellect and integrity.

    I have scanned the comments because I was curious to see if anyone was actually trying to defend Trump and I think it’s revealing that the usual suspects are AWOL on that account.

    I suppose it’s important for someone to document Trumps crimes against reason and decency and I’m glad I don’t have to do it, but still, I wonder how things would have been different if the media had reported on Sanders instead preoccupied itself with Trump?

    We’re poised in this nation for a great leap forward that’s not going to happen because we’re saddled with a mediocre media that dismissed common sense and focused on a clown of their own creation.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/29/2016 - 07:02 pm.

      Tossup

      I think that the effects of more reportage on Sanders would have been mixed.
      More early attention might have pulled some people to him.
      On the other hand, more details about his proposals might have turned off some of the people who support him on the basis of vague revolutionary atmospherics.
      I know that I was very much drawn to him at first (among other things, our demographics line up nicely), but as I saw more details, and lack of details, I found myself turned off, and wrote off my initial donation as education.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/30/2016 - 10:35 am.

        Turnover not tossup

        As more time has gone by Sanders’s proposals and agenda have revealed themselves to be practical common sense. His “pie in the sky never-will-pass” $15 MW has passed in so many states and cities now that business is trying to preempt it with state and federal law. Every month that goes by reveals more short comings of Obamacare and the majority of Americans still want a single payer system. The globalism born of neo-liberal economic regimes that the Clinton’s have been championing for decades is facing calamitous backlash all over the world. Sanders’s agenda of representing the majority rather than the elite is crushing conventional wisdom everywhere. The wall of congressional republican resistance that was supposed render a Sanders’s presidency impossible is crumbling under the weight of the parties implosion (a scenario that Sanders predicted by the way).

        It’s always been amusing when Clinton supporters complain about Sanders’s lack of detailed plans when in fact even a cursory browse through the candidates websites reveals more detail and planning in Sander’s proposals.

        Once again painfully necessary initiatives will be stalled by timid liberalism rather than republican obstructionism and THAT’S the real story of this election cycle. Trump is just a sideshow. The real story is the ways and means the democratic leadership is deploying to defeat necessary progressive initiatives in futile attempt to preserve the status quo and suppress economic expansion beyond the bank accounts of the already wealthy. Once again fear based liberals with limited imaginations promise to search for a “center” that will exclude rather than unite the majorities on the left and right. Knowingly or wittingly or not, the media have played a vital role in the suppression of the majority by focusing on Trump instead of the populist battle that’s threatening both the democrats and the republicans.

        Sure, every now and then I get a tinge of anxiety about a possible Trump presidency because if anyone CAN lose to a guy like Trump, it’s Hillary Clinton. Still, Trump and his adopted party are train wrecks on a variety of levels and it’s hard to imagine that train wreck rolling into the White House at the end of the day. However, should Trumps circus end up raising it’s tent on the White House lawn it will be because the democrats chose their weakest, most disliked, and least electable candidate to run against him… and THAT brings us back to the failure of ignoring the Sanders campaign.

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