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Trump’s lying: Many of us in the media just can’t ‘get over it’

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump lies so much that I’ve begun to see people arguing that we should get over it.

President Trump lies. A lot. More than any previous president. He lies so much that I’ve begun to feel that we should budget a little less time to read the newest news about Trump and a lot more to read FactCheck.org, or Politifact, or the Washington Post Fact Checker so we get a more accurate, factual, understanding of the older news about things Trump has falsely claimed.

Trump lies so much that I’ve begun to see people arguing that we should get over it, or at least get over the idea that it’s a good use of time or media space to hold him to any sort of reasonable standard of accuracy or truthfulness. The argument there – even though it horrifies me – is that everyone knows he’s no stickler for factual accuracy, but his supporters and admirers don’t care. That might loop back to the supposedly brilliant insight of a few months ago that Trump’s supporters take him “seriously but not literally.”

I’m kind of a facticity nerd. I know there’s more to life, and to discourse, than just facts and careful use of language to discuss them. There’s logic. And there’s argument. I love a good, respectful argument about what conclusion can or should be drawn from a set of facts.  But if the argument isn’t based on accurate facts, I can’t respect it. I have previously confessed that I don’t fully get how to take someone “seriously but not literally” if by “not literally” one means that that someone is lying or wrong about the facts on which his argument is based.

Anyway, an accurate grasp of the facts may not help much in a discussion with that portion of the electorate that is operating on a “seriously but not literally” basis, because at some level they understand that their hero is operating on a basis in which facticity has been downgraded or worse.

Because of my facticity nerdiness, I have trouble bringing myself to go there. But I’m working on it. In the meantime, I still keep trying to notice falsehoods and respect factual accuracy.

On that basis, in case you share my preference for factual accuracy, I just wanted to call your attention to a project by the New York Times editorial section that was published last week when I was offline. The Times claims to have catalogued most or all of the falsehoods the president has told publicly since he took office. Here it is.

They introduced it thus:

Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump’s lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office.

The Times believes that Trump said, publicly, something untrue every day for at least the first 40 days of his term, but the catalogue sets a somewhat higher standard for falsehoods that seems to require some more culpable intent to deceive. Here is how they described their standard for inclusion:

We are using the word “lie” deliberately. Not every falsehood is deliberate on Trump’s part. But it would be the height of naïveté to imagine he is merely making honest mistakes. He is lying.

I guess, like me, the Times can’t quite give up on the idea of calling out lies and falsehoods,  although the current incumbent may be able to exhaust them.

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Comments (35)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/26/2017 - 01:43 pm.

    Lying

    My particular objection to Trump’s mendacity is that in very practical terms, we need to rely on what a president says, and we just can’t. My specific example is Obamacare. Trump says it’s dead. Well it isn’t. It exists, people rely on it, people must negotiate their way through it’s various complexities. When Trump lies about it, he is misleading people on a very important matter, one where lives are literally at stake. It’s hard for me, at this particular moment, to think of that as utterly contemptible betrayal of what should be a sacred trust.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/27/2017 - 09:18 am.

      Me Too!

      My specific example is also Obamacare.

      Two notable whoppers used to sell Obamacare:

      “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan. Period.”

      “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.” Typical family premiums increased about $3500 per year, a $6000 miss.

      For this reason and others, the Trump presidency is a Obama presidency legacy.

      • Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 06/27/2017 - 05:01 pm.

        The REPs and paid lobbyists made the ACA more cumbersome

        They were invited to contribute and so they did. Just not in any helpful ways.

        The FEW folks who had to give up their insurance had high deductible plans that covered little. They weren’t worth the paper they were written on. They ended up with far better coverage for far less money. The REPs just used that poor example inappropriately in order to drive further divisiveness:(

        Most states have an agency (in MN it’s Commerce) who approve or disapprove insurance rate increases. In too many states, price increases that are not adequately justified are just rubber stamped. Contact your state officials and legislators to put an end to that practice.

        Trump has not one thing in common with former president Obama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Obama was thoughtful, careful, measured, educated, patient and had class. He always conducted himself with comportment.

        Trump is rash, crass, crude, rude, can barely read, is all over the map, insults everyone and lies, lies, lies. He deflects, creates daily chaos and talks out of both sides of his mouth. He is a con and a lout:(

        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/28/2017 - 08:45 am.

          Not Aware?

          Are you not aware that Trump and Obama both held the office of President? No overused punctuation can hide that fact.

          Not a single Republican voted in the favor of the ACA, so please explain how they made it so cumbersome. How could any plan 2300 pages in length not be cumbersome? If you can’t get it done in 100 pages, then start over.

          • Submitted by Howard Miller on 07/04/2017 - 03:08 pm.

            Republicans got their voices heard during the PPACA legislating

            ” …. 788 amendments were submitted during the ACA’s markup in the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee (HELP). Three quarters of them were filed by the committee’s Republican members, according to John McDonough in his book Inside National Health Reform. Of those, 161 were adopted in whole or revised form.”

            http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/mar/16/luis-gutierrez/rep-gutierrez-says-hundreds-republican-amendments-/

            Republicans had their voices added to the PPACA, but they turned their backs on it for the final vote, as they were midstream in setting a record for senate filibusters and congressional obstruction more generally.

            The PPACA is still the law of the land, whether Republicans like it or not. Just like Trump is president, and we’re not, which sits poorly with many American voters. If Republicans move to destroy health insurance for poor and infirm Americans, they deserve to lose control of governing.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/28/2017 - 08:08 am.

        Not exactly…

        While very popular with the right, the actual facts on:

        “If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan”

        are a little different. At the time of the statement in 2009 it was rated “half true”. Four years later it earned its’ lasting infamy as “Lie of the year”. We do not have to wait four years to get a conclusive decision on Trump lies: They hardly escape his lips when every rational, thinking mind can evaluate the evidence and see another blatant Trump lie. Yesterday’s whopper of the day:

        “The Senate healthcare plan does not cut Medicaid”

  2. Submitted by Jim Smola on 06/26/2017 - 03:02 pm.

    We cannot be complacent

    The media has a responsibility to to bring the President’s lies to light! If our democracy is to continue, the media has an important role in keeping the public informed on any public official’s lies. To allow President Trump to continually lie, misrepresent, and distort facts will have erode the foundations of our government.

  3. Submitted by Marc Post on 06/26/2017 - 03:46 pm.

    It’s easy to lie when they want to hear lies

    Let’s face it. Conservatives don’t care about lies because they want to be lied to. The facts and reality have a liberal bias.

    They wanted Obama to be a Muslim, so they believe the lie. They wanted him to have no birth certificate, so they believe the lie. They want Climate Change to be a hoax, so they believe the lie. They want the wall to work, so they believe the lie. Do I need to go on? Believing lies is a litmus test.

    Trump is a cult of personality. He can say whatever he wants and his followers will drink the kool aid.

    • Submitted by Bob Petersen on 06/27/2017 - 09:35 am.

      It works both ways

      The NY Times is rife with what the left want, cover the bad things of the GOP and ignore the lies the Dems do.
      When has Mr. Black ever covered the lies from the left? All he has done is pillory the president. Not saying it’s not called for, but for some reason Mr. Black, like most liberals, also ignore the bad things from their side of the aisle.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/27/2017 - 11:09 am.

        It dos not work both ways…

        Poltifact and Factcheck both show that Trump’s level of lying exceeds all previous standards by a factor of 2. Look at the records of Pelosi, Ryan, Reid, McConnell, Schumer, Obama and Bush and you will see a pattern of spinning the truth 25-35% of the time. Sometimes a mild spin, sometimes moving towards a lie.

        Trump is a whole new ball game with more untruths than truths. If anyone wants to minimize the magnitude of Trump lies I will simply add:

        “Rationalization is the key to mental health”

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/27/2017 - 11:25 am.

        So What?

        Mr. Petersen, who is the President of the United States right now? Which party has majorities in both houses of Congress?

        If your reaction to criticism is to point out that someone else is not getting (what you deem) sufficient criticism, you are tacitly acknowledging that there is no defense. A transparent attempt at deflection is the best you can do.

      • Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 06/27/2017 - 05:08 pm.

        And Fox News and the like do the opposite

        Fox News, Breitbart, InfoWars, Rush Limbaugh and the like spread the REP lies and constantly and continuously spew hatred towards the DEMs (or libs or libtards, etc.)

        The biggest difference is that the DEMs want keep out hard won equal rights and protections for ALL. They want to continue to have a DEMOCRACY. They believe in fairness and justice. They represent the PEOPLE and want level playing fields so all can succeed, etc.

        The REPs are now solely in bed with corporate America and put their agenda(s) and profit$ above all. They fully intend to have CEOs–people we don’t vet or vote for!!–in charge and calling all of the shots. They get the power and control and $$$. We peons get servitude:(

        There goes 240 years of democracy. Here comes fascism:(

  4. Submitted by Roy Everson on 06/27/2017 - 07:27 am.

    The truth is out there

    The Trump base, like any territory with a pervasive, oppressive religion, is bound to have a lot of silent skeptics among them. Those poor folks wouldn’t dare utter the word Pelosi in a positive way, their icons tend to be concealed and carried, they are so lost. All the moreso they need and hunger for the truth, the way and the light enabled by the facticity nerds who dwell among us.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/27/2017 - 01:15 pm.

      Grass

      I have a Far Side cartoon on my refrigerator.

      Three cows out in a rolling field.

      Two of them with their heads down to the ground, chewing away like cows do.

      The third is looking up with this surprised and angry look on it’s face saying,

      “Hey, wait a minute! This is grass! We’ve been eating grass!”

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/27/2017 - 08:29 am.

    Facticity nerds

    …unite!!

    Like many another garden-variety demagogue, Mr. Trump has assiduously cultivated what Marc Post accurately describes as a cult of personality. Continuing to hold campaign-style rallies so that he can bask in the glow of perceived adulation is but one of many manifestations of his insecurity, in common with many other authoritarian-style leaders.

    What the grownups in the room — and the Times appears to be among them, fortunately — need to keep in mind is that the current President is an emotional and intellectual child. A dangerous one, to be sure, but a child, nonetheless, and children, though they will sometimes surprise us with bursts of unexpected truthfulness, and even insight, will just as easily make stories up out of whole cloth because they want attention, or because they’ve been caught behaving badly, but, being children, don’t want to accept responsibility for their bad behavior.

    I’m inclined to be thankful for the Times’ distinction between the factual mistake and the purposeful lie. I don’t expect the president to be all-knowing, all the time. We usually reserve that sort of expectation for a deity of some sort, and I’m not willing to put a political leader into that category. Dismissing the occasional factual error as a misstatement doesn’t bother me particularly. What does bother me, much as it bothers Eric, the Times’ editors, and some of the early commenters, is Trump’s self-centered and childish insistence that his worldview is the only one that matters, and that his version of reality, ipso facto, is the one the rest of us should adopt.

    Dictators down through the ages have had similar mind sets, and they’ve also generally had their legions of followers, willfully oblivious to the lies they’ve come to believe as the truth, or even worse, willfully complicit in promoting especially perverted versions of the truth.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/27/2017 - 09:13 am.

      As usual, you’ve said it

      I might add another distinction; between an outright lie and an exaggeration.
      It’s one thing to simplify and say that gray is white (which is what I think his followers hear).
      It’s quite another thing to say that black is white, which is what Trump does regularly.

  6. Submitted by Hal Davis on 06/27/2017 - 11:46 am.

    Fact-free zone

    “I cannot tell a lie.” — George Washington. “I cannot tell the truth.” — Richard Nixon.”I cannot tell the difference.” — Donald Trump.

    The man doesn’t exactly lie. He lives a fact-free existence, the ultimate real-estate salesman. He doesn’t even know how he won the presidency. This is from the Washington Post’s account of his recent news conference:

    “…it’s almost impossible for the Democrats to lose the electoral college, as you know,” Trump said. “You have to run up the whole East Coast and you have to win everything as a Republican, and that’s just what we did.”

    In fact, Trump lost most of the states on the Eastern Seaboard (he carried Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and a portion of Maine). He won his electoral college majority by carrying a number of hotly contested states in the industrial Midwest and elsewhere, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-claims-vindication-from-comey-testimony-calls-him-a-leaker/2017/06/09/4dc20c48-4d06-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html?utm_term=.ad371abf19c3

  7. Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 06/27/2017 - 03:32 pm.

    Trump is pathological

    He is delusional, which is a mental disorder.
    He needs to be removed from office and instead given the professional mental health intervention he so obviously needs.

    ‘Nuff said.

  8. Submitted by Curt Carlson on 06/27/2017 - 09:17 pm.

    One more time

    Read Harry Frankfurt’s essay ‘On Bullshit.’ Trump is not a liar – that’s giving him too much credit. He’s a bullshitter. His statements have no relationship to facts or to reality, he says what he thinks at the time might be to his advantage. He is no better than a carnival barker or a used car salesman.

  9. Submitted by Joe Musich on 06/27/2017 - 10:44 pm.

    Trump can …

    lie all he wants. But he is not doing it alone in a closet and without reason. Here is a link to opinion piece that his quite convincing regarding his base we might refer to as his codependents. http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/rural-america-understanding-isnt-problem

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/27/2017 - 11:00 pm.

    Seriously but not literally

    No one can get their head around the seriously but not literally mind set because in fact, it’s simply incoherent. Human beings most certainly have a capacity for incoherence. It’s simply another way of saying don’t confuse me with the facts… There’s no way to assign any kind of intellectual integrity to someone with such a mindset.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/27/2017 - 11:03 pm.

    Speaking of Trump dishonesty…

    In case you missed it, this is a weird one, Trump and his fake time Magazine cover, bar code and all: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/a-time-magazine-with-trump-on-the-cover-hangs-in-his-golf-clubs-its-fake/2017/06/27/0adf96de-5850-11e7-ba90-f5875b7d1876_story.html?utm_term=.abfa9ca231eb

  12. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 06/28/2017 - 06:32 am.

    Lying

    To talk about lying does invite us into a series of traps which deflects us from a productive examination of the issues. Trump either knows that or feels that which helps to explain how throwing out a lot shiny objects has worked so well for him. He was elected president in a manner of speaking, and still retains a surprising amount of support in the country.

    The immediate problem with the lying narrative is that the liar must know he is lying or at least have a reckless disregard for truth. It has a subjective element which it is very difficult to know or prove. We don’t easily know what is in Trump’s heart.But this really shouldn’t be a problem or an element of dispute with the presidency. We don’t need to know whether the president is lying; the burden we do have a right to impose on the president that he tell us truth and that is an objective standard, one we can know whether he is meeting. We can’t let a guy who has access to the New York Times, let alone America’s say things that are demonstrably untrue, whether or not for reasons of failing memory or simple intellectual laziness, he know they are not true.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/28/2017 - 10:28 am.

    Kind of weird discussion actually

    It’s funny, we seem to have 4 basic interpretations of Trumps dishonesty in this discussion:

    1) Trump is a liar
    2) Trump is a liar, but so was Obama
    3) Trump is NOT a liar, he’s just disinterested in the truth or facts.
    4) Trump may be a liar, but calling him one is a bad idea for one reason or another.

    I would submit that a well functioning moral compass and responsible citizenship can only point to #1.

    We know Trump is a liar because he’s been caught telling multiple lies. The fact that he’s also uninterested in facts and disconnected from reality doesn’t make him honest or lend him any kind of integrity or credibility, he’s still a liar. Trump’s disinterest in facts or truths doesn’t make him honest, it makes him an habitual liar. He is clearly a dishonest person, and we have no choice as responsible citizens but to recognize that dishonesty. When or if we ignore a presidents dishonesty we flirt with disaster and promote corruption. If we obscure a president’s dishonesty with euphemistic language we normalize toxic pathology and dismantle the mechanisms of democracy.

    Whenever someone responds to one persons dishonesty by pointing to another’s, the respondent is telling us they have no functioning moral compass. Someone else’s incompetence, dishonesty, behavior ( be it real or imagined) cannot sanction anyone else’s dishonesty or crime. Even IF Obama was a liar, Obama’s lies could not sanction Trumps lies or dishonesty. This is basic basic basic ethical logic.There’s always someone else who robbed a bank, raped someone, murdered someone, cheated on their spouse, took a bribe, whatever. Even if you find a completely original example of immorality, it would still be immoral. Obama’s lies could no more sanction Trump’s lies than Nixon’s lies and Nixon’s lies could not sanction Obama’s. I simply note the irony on display when those who claim to be the champions of durable moral values resort to such extreme moral relativism whenever they try to defend their own. Real absolutists would actually be the first ones to condemn Trump.

    It doesn’t matter whether or not we can as matter of ontological proof “know” what Trump “knows” or doesn’t know. The simple that fact that his statements and assertions on a daily basis are misleading and dishonest is sufficient for judgement. We’re not prosecuting Trump in a court of law, we’re citizens evaluating our president, and that evaluation is a necessary requirement. We don’t have to adhere to a “legal” standard of “proof”, we simply have to think intelligently and rationally. Common sense dictates that dishonest people are not “truth” tellers, they are liars. It’s simply incoherent to assert that a dishonest person is actually truthful person.

    When we call Trump a liar we’re not claiming to be omniscient, nor do we have to make such a claim. When we call Trump a liar after witnessing multiple lies, factual errors, and deliberately misleading statements, we’re just making a publicly verifiable observation. We’re entitled to do that, and our responsibilities as citizens and adults require that we make such observations about elected officials and those in power. We’re not issuing a death sentence, or even a jail term, we’re making a basic judgment about an elected official.

    Making observations like this may not be “comfortable” for everyone, but democracy, adulthood, and citizenship aren’t about living in comfort zones. This is no time for responsible citizens OR the media to retreat to their comfort zones. Trump IS a liar and we ignore or dilute that fact at our peril.

    • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/28/2017 - 11:12 am.

      Moral Compass

      When one cares little or nothing of the past President’s lies, but sets upon the current President’s lies like a Chihuahua on a rare pork chop, it indicates that their moral compass needs calibration. When they don’t like their hypocrisy illuminated by the light of day, it indicates that their moral compass is our of warranty and not repairable.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/28/2017 - 02:28 pm.

        No, not really

        No one with a functioning moral compass dismisses a current presidents dishonesty, no matter how dishonest any past president has been. The moral question isn’t whether or not Trump is more or less dishonest than any other president, that’s an historical question, not a moral question; but you have to have a functioning moral compass to understand the difference. You’re right, people with selective outrage probably do have damaged compasses, but the most selective people participating in this conversation are the ones trying to ignore Trumps dishonesty. These are the same people that jumped on Obama’s alleged lies like a pork chop while caring little or nothing about the lies of Bush and Cheney. And when we were trying to talk about the lies of Bush and Cheney, they were pointing at the lies of Bill Clinton. Whatever.

        Even if Trump critics are being hypocritical, pointing that out doesn’t mediate Trumps dishonesty in any way, he’s still a liar. Even if Trump isn’t the only liar to ever be president, historical observations don’t diminish his culpability in any way. At any rate, changing the subject is also a sign of moral vacancy, the issue isn’t whether or not there are hypocrites among us, there surely are, that doesn’t make Trump an honest president.

        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/28/2017 - 03:02 pm.

          I am no Trump apologist

          Nor have I dismissed his dishonesty. Go ahead and quote me if I am mistaken, before or since the election.

          I am pretty sure presidential dishonesty is the subject, so no subject change from my commentary.

          This delusional notion that we are just one discovery from ending the Trump presidency is growing threadbare. Yet the left and their complicit media, like CNN (noted above), persist.

          Russia

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/28/2017 - 09:06 pm.

            Surely mistaken

            This article and thread are are about Trumps dishonesty in particular, not presidential dishonesty in general. Unless you’re trying to change the subject? 🙂

            I don’t know anyone who thinks we’re on the verge of ending the Trump presidency and I haven’t seen anyone make that claim. I agree, it would be an absurd claim. We’re stuck with Trump for the time being, although I predict he’ll resign after the mid-terms in a year and a half.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/28/2017 - 03:03 pm.

        Moral Blindness

        I would call it moral blindness when self-appointed critics say one is estopped from calling out the President on his lies when the self-appointed critic deems that one paid insufficient attention to prior presidential lies.

        “When they don’t like their hypocrisy illuminated by the light of day, it indicates that their moral compass is our of warranty and not repairable.” What do you call it when we are called hypocrites by one who avoids criticizing the present President?

        • Submitted by Steve Rose on 06/28/2017 - 03:22 pm.

          My Compass

          Look above in this sub-thread where I referred to “the current President’s lies”, and explain how that avoids criticism of him. And, then quote yourself referring to President Obama’s lies.

          Your compass.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/28/2017 - 03:40 pm.

            In that Spirit

            If merely referencing lies is sufficient, I hereby condemn every lie ever told by Presidents Obama or Clinton, and every lie ever told by Senator Clinton.

            How’s that?

  14. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 06/28/2017 - 07:50 pm.

    Well

    This opinion says you are all missing the point! It isn’t about lying its Machiavellian, what ever it takes to win! Dishonesty, false facts, misleading, turmoil, making pacts with the devil if need be.
    Trump neither cares or is concerned with lying, you are playing his game, its like Calvin ball, who ever has the ball makes the rules. He doesn’t care about social demeanor, he doesn’t care about a constitution, America, or an emoluments clause, he only cares about DT & winning, and what he can get away with. His objective as said before is play by the rules he makes and changes daily, he is yanking guys like you around worse than a beat up puppy dog. The idea is get enough chaos on the left, and ignorance on the right, and basically overthrow America as we knew it, and set up an oligarchy with himself as the top dog, similar to Putin. Get things set up and his family will run and profit off America for generations! The truth she hurts, and unless he is indicted for something, doubtful the republicans or the supreme court have the cajones, he will win, and America will move to a 3rd 4th rate country, with those on the top and those on the bottom locked into financial servitude for those on the top.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/29/2017 - 09:29 am.

      Yeah…

      I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said in this comment. However I’m puzzled by the fact that you seem to think you’re telling us something we don’t already know? You’re outlook is somewhat gloomier than my own, but that’s OK. I don’t see the point in ignoring Trumps duplicity or surrendering to a presumed fate of social and political collapse, but maybe I’m just too optimistic.

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