Trump and the new ‘Bottomless Pinocchio’

Have you heard about the new rating that Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler has instituted to replace the “four Pinocchio” rating, which, pre-Trump, had been the worst rating a politician could be given for a statement that is utterly false?

President Trump, deservedly and unsurprisingly, has received a record number of four Pinocchio ratings. But Kessler discovered that Trump, even after having one of his lies scored as a “four Pinocchio” falsehood, shamelessly kept repeating it — without offering any new evidence for its truthfulness, in the arrogant (but perhaps understandable?) belief that his base liked hearing the particular falsehood, and, perhaps liked the fact that the liar-in-chief didn’t care how many fact-checkers had ruled the “fact” false and utterly false.

So Kessler invented a new rating, lower than a four Pinocchio, which he named the “Bottomless Pinocchio.” This, Kessler announced, would be a term for a false fact that Trump has repeated at least 20 times and continues to assert, as if it were true and without acknowledging or doing anything to explain away the three- or four-Pinocchio rating he had already received for the same assertion.

According to Kessler’s methodology, there are already at least 15 falsehoods that Trump has repeated more than 20 times (some of them many more than 20) and they are show graphically in the Kessler column announcing the new “bottomless Pinocchio” category. But those were all retrospective, from past fact checks of Trumpian statements. So they didn’t quite count.

And so (insert trumpet – but not Trumpian — fanfare here) yesterday at 3 a.m., the Post Fact Checker operation awarded the president his first “Bottomless Pinocchio” for saying (quite a few times) during his televised discussion with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer) that the famed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border was already under construction and/or constructed.

Here’s the Trumpian statement from his Tuesday meeting Pelosi and Schumer:

One thing that I do have to say is tremendous amounts of wall have already been built, and a lot of wall when you include the renovation of existing fences and walls renovated a tremendous amount, and we’ve done a lot of work. … Big sections of wall. And we will continue that. And one way or the other it’s going to get built.

According to Fact Checker:

No segment of Trump’s wall has been built. Trump has sought $25 billion for the wall since taking office. But Congress has not given it to him.

In March, with great fanfare, Trump toured prototypes of a concrete wall while in California. Congress included $1.57 billion in the appropriations bill he signed early in 2018 for border protection, but the legislative language was specific: None of the funds could be used for Trump’s border wall prototypes. Instead, the money was restricted to fencing, generally for replacement fencing.

Only designs from before May 2017, such as “currently deployed steel bollard designs, that prioritize agent safety,” could be funded with the $1.57 billion. Moreover, the bill identified that the money for barriers — about $1.3 billion — could be used only for items listed as “primary pedestrian levee fencing,” “primary pedestrian fencing” and “secondary fencing.” About $250 million is for secondary fencing, meaning it just backs up other fencing.

The idea that the areas where walls were in place before Trump’s election, and areas where pre-existing pieces of walls have been repaired, is somehow the fulfillment of Trump’s great border wall promise is something between mendacity and delusion, with the emphasis on the mendacity.

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/13/2018 - 11:04 am.

    So what?
    Trump’s magic 40% doesn’t care that he lies; they believe in him anyway for inchoate reasons. For the rest of us it’s old news, but so far we can’t do anything about it.
    So it got him the presidency — why should he change? He believes that he’s indictment and impeachment proof, so he does what has always worked for him: lie and cheat.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 12/15/2018 - 09:47 am.

      I agree with Paul, and am still depressed that America has so many “T” supporters that fundamentally live and cultivate in such a dark hateful place, and don’t know it. .

      ” There are four kinds of people, three of which are to be avoided and the fourth cultivated: those who don’t know that they don’t know; those who know that they don’t know; those who don’t know that they know; and those who know that they know.”
      Anon. Rendering of the Arab Proverb.

    • Submitted by Doug Skaalrud on 12/16/2018 - 05:19 pm.

      Spot-on commenting. I work with quite a few Trumpers who go to church and profess to be Christians and they will support Trump no matter what tenets of the church he ignores. I think you could add “morality-proof” to the Slick Willie list.

  2. Submitted by Leon Webster on 12/13/2018 - 11:31 am.

    At this point, if you believe Trump, you are gullible enough that you probably believe in the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, and supply side economics.

  3. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 12/13/2018 - 12:17 pm.

    Gosh, maybe the next new rating would be “liar”.

    Nah, the lame-stream media will never do that.

  4. Submitted by Verne Dusenbery on 12/13/2018 - 01:44 pm.

    Disturbingly, it’s not just Trump but now government departments echoing his Bottomless Pinocchios:

  5. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 12/13/2018 - 02:23 pm.

    Isn’t the bulk of Trump’s support group those who wouldn’t see this fact-checking and Pinnochios-awrding information? they don’t read outside the far-right bubbe, and Fox News certainly isn’t going to highlight the new category or specify where and how much Trump lies.

    [Incidentally, Eric, The New Yorker has been using the “Trump is a liar” meme for some months now, and the NY Times comes pretty close to that, plus the Washington Post and other mainstream media. Most informed Americans know the man to be an inveterate liar, and wouldn’t trust him as far as they could throw him.]

    How can we get this specific proof of Trump lying to his base? How will they ever know that this analysis ad data exist? That’s the problem:: they’ll never change if they don’t get honest data.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/13/2018 - 02:50 pm.

      It doesn’t matter if they know. They don’t believe that he’s really lying, or they don’t care. I have actually heard Trumpistas say that they love the way his lies infuriate the liberals and the media–politics as “gotcha.”

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 12/13/2018 - 03:37 pm.

      My bubbe was never far right!

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/14/2018 - 09:56 am.

    Yes but we need to recognize the fact that Trump supporters of today were simply Republicans yesterday. The choice to watch and listen to programs and sources (i.e. FOX, Limbaugh, the Center for the American Experiment, etc.) that tell them what want or like to hear, was made decades ago. The cottage industry of dishonesty that’s been providing this desired misinformation blossomed back in the 1980’s. Trump’s dishonest is simply the logical conclusion to a decades long celebration of dishonesty and ignorance among Republicans and many conservatives.

    So while Trump is clearly a big fat liar, we shouldn’t be surprised by the durability of his support because it’s really nothing “new”. I mean look, aren’t the Bush people still claiming we went to war with Iraq because they “we” thought they WMD’s? Trump didn’t invent climate change denial or magical tax cuts.

    But yeah, it’s depressing and interesting that we have to create new scales to measure and reflect Trump’s level of dishonesty.

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