Question: How many times a day does Donald Trump lie in public?
By one fairly authoritative count, the answer is 12.6, although in recent days his average has jumped to more than 16 a day.
The authoritative falsehood counter, cited above, is the Washington Post’s “Fact-Checker” operation, which today published the latest numbers and explained its methods and definitions a bit, here. The Fact-Checker overview doesn’t use the word “lie.” They are too careful for that, and maybe I shouldn’t have used it either. The Post Fact-Checker overview is headlined:
“President Trump has made 10,796 false or misleading claims over 869 days.” Chief Fact-Checker Glenn Kessler admirably doesn’t claim to know in which cases the president made false or misleading statements out of ignorance or carelessness or some other quality that we should not want to see in the leader of an important branch of our federal government, or in which cases a falsehood was deliberate, and therefore qualifies fully as a “lie.”
So there’s that, which doesn’t exactly make me feel better.
Maybe I’m biased by a lifetime in journalism, where getting one’s facts right is deemed a prime virtue and a necessity. In my current (fabulous) MinnPost gig, I’m called a columnist, allowed to express my views, but still expected to rely on accurate facts. And there are surely instances where facts are in dispute.
But in the case of the current incumbent we are, in general, not talking about facts that are in dispute. We are talking about instances in which the facts are known and knowable and the POTUS chooses to go with a falsehood.
I’m not an expert on how the minority of Americans who express approval of Trump’s work as president (currently 41.7 percent, according to the daily average of approval polls maintained by 538.com) think about Trump’s relationship with factual accuracy. Perhaps some believe everything Trump says, while others consider factual accuracy overrated, compared to the deeper existential truths that come across to them when their president speaks.
But I’m a factual accuracy nerd. I just can’t get used to this level of fact-trashing, much of which, I assume, is knowing and intentional, blended with a combination of disrespect for factual accuracy and a confidence that the president’s base doesn’t care about such things as factual accuracy.
I can’t get used to his lying, and I can’t get used to his supporters not minding.