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Facts and falsehoods in Trump’s Montana speech

There’s a cynical old joke that goes: Q: How can you tell when a politician is lying? A: Their lips move.

I used to like that joke, but now it makes me nostalgic for a time when it was funny, because it was obvious hyperbole. In the age of Donald Trump it’s no longer funny because, while it’s an exaggeration, it’s no longer a ridiculous exaggeration.

Trump’s lies are so constant, and often so big, he beggars any effort to define his lying with ordinary words. The Trump phenomenon has beggared quite a few quaint old concepts, including the old Capra-esque Mr.-Smith-Goes-to-Washington notion that if you lie often enough, people stop believing you.

Glenn Kessler, the excellent Fact-Checker of the Washington Post, specializes in checking the accuracy of factual assertions. Recently (and for the second time during the Trump presidency), Kessler and his team decided to factcheck every factual assertion made by Trump in a Sept. 6 rally in Montana.

I’ll cut to the chase: There were 88 factual assertions in Trump’s remarks. 28 of them checked out as accurate. 60 were not, ranging from 36 statements that were rated as “false,” 22 that were merely “misleading” and two claims that were rated “unsupported.” So that’s 32 percent accurate factual statements; 68 percent some level of lie or exaggeration.

Read Kessler’s full piece here.

Kessler, by the way, did the same exercise the last time Trump gave a rally in Montana, in July. Although I missed his summary at the time, he revisited it for this morning’s piece. In July, “76 percent of his 98 statements were false, misleading or unsupported by the evidence.” So, as you can see, Trump improved from 24 percent honest to 32 percent. Congratulations are in order.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/12/2018 - 07:21 pm.

    There are a lot of bulls in Montana, so they’re used to it.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/13/2018 - 12:28 pm.

    “Congratulations” isn’t the first term that comes to MY mind, but others may be more charitable.

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/13/2018 - 02:45 pm.

    The most disturbing thing about this article is how routine it has become, and how predictable the aftermath.

    1. Trump gives a “speech,” or however one would characterize his logorrheic self-adulation;

    2. The many lies and falsehoods are duly noted and characterized;

    3. The part of the American public that is paying attention and that does not support Trump is outraged and disgusted; and

    4. His supporters react to the criticism. There is some room for variation in the range of responses here. One will hear either that it’s the fake news/biased/failing media reporting; or yes, he was lying, but only to own the libs (it being completely presidential to spend so much time trying to get a rise out of a large segment of the American public).

    It seems you can step in the same river twice.

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/14/2018 - 10:17 am.

    And now, Trump is declaring–without any basis in fact–that the failures of FEMA and the feds in last year’s Puerto Rico hurricane did not result in nearly 3,000 dead Americans. How and why they died as a result of that hurricane (universities studied it, folks) is simply too complicated a subject for Donald Trump, and besides, he can’t admit to any weaknesses or failures.

    So he lies, spits right into the teeth of the truth, and then has his attorney go around claiming that “truth is not truth.”

    If this were not a political reality, it would be absurdist theater.

  5. Submitted by Mike Davidson on 09/16/2018 - 01:18 pm.

    It’s not like his supporters actually care. Look how long Trump perpetuated the racist Birtherism claims against this predecessor?

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