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Fact-Checker gives us the latest on Trump’s false or misleading claims

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.

Comments (22)

  1. Submitted by Roy Everson on 06/10/2019 - 01:28 pm.

    Many people are okay with authoritarianism, have fundamentally little interest in representative democracy, and appreciate a leader who says it is okay to indulge their fears, anger and negativity towards immigrants and Mexicans and outright hatred of Muslims. The leader says this is patriotic and he loves his country, and his followers say amen. It must be a very liberating feeling to abandon standards for integrity and honesty.

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 06/10/2019 - 05:15 pm.

      Well condensed, Roy. The most depressing thing about the past three years has been coming face-to-face with the fact that in this nation, and apparently universally, one out of every three people is an authoritarian follower without an interest in democratic self-government.

      For some time I’ve been an idiosyncratic voice for secession on the left. I just don’t see how a nation can be sustained where a third of its citizens reject its basic values. If we’re two nations, then all we need is a non-aggression pact and the authoritarians can knock themselves out bowing to their ridiculous dictator.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/10/2019 - 07:04 pm.

      Well, it worked for Mussolini.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/13/2019 - 09:49 am.

      Thanks Roy. Anecdotally there are multiple reports of “liberated” sexists, racists, and Fascists expressing themselves with a new-found release. We should note however that it’s not actually going well for them, by and large things rarely end well for them. They can enjoy their moment in the sun… while it lasts; but they may come to regret having done so.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 06/10/2019 - 02:51 pm.

    Amen to Eric’s last line.

    Roy Everson may be correct about the liberating feeling that he suggests must go with abandoning standards of integrity and honesty, but if he is correct, I’m afraid I’ll be among the UNliberated for as long as I live.

    One of my favorite lines from the late film critic Roger Ebert is that “…if athletes are not ladies and gentlemen, there is no reason to watch them.”

    In similar fashion, someone demonstrating a lack of integrity and honesty ought not to be in public office, whether by appointment or election. Every politician since the Athenian Greeks, and likely going well back into Egyptian history before that, has found reason to shade the truth from time to time, but even monarchs and dictators (if they hope to live) have plenty of reasons to tell the truth at least some of the time.

    Mr. Trump qualifies as a habitual liar, by which I mean he lies even when it’s not necessary, and the numbers from the WaPo’s fact-checker suggest there’s much truth in that judgment. There is thus no reason for citizens – either supporters or detractors – to place much faith in what Trump has to say about almost anything.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/11/2019 - 01:43 pm.

      I’m not sure that I would even call him a liar;
      that implies someone who is aware of the difference between truth and falsehood.
      Trump simply says whatever he thinks his audience of the moment wants to hear —
      facts are irrelevant. That’s why he contradicts himself so frequently.

  3. Submitted by richard owens on 06/10/2019 - 05:37 pm.

    Trump has been received much like the 20th century European fascist leaders were. The question that remains isn’t so much about him, but more about the conditions that gave rise to his base.

    We can’t really impeach him and move along while so many are in still in his sway. Why are they accepting his angry resentment as their own?

    The question was addressed by Eric Fromm, who wrote Escape From Freedom, in 1941.

    The parallels are uncanny. Consider this:

    https://www.brainpickings.org/2018/04/17/erich-fromm-escape-from-freedom/

  4. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 06/10/2019 - 07:53 pm.

    Those who refuse to study history,…

    are doomed to repeat it,…

    or become victims of its repetition,…

    (or its “rhyming”).

    If we couple Trump’s penchant for lying,…

    and his followers’ penchant for swallowing and even celebrating his lies,…

    with Trump’s (and his crony’s) psychologically dysfunctional need for adulation,…

    and ever greater wealth,…

    together with his penchant for tossing “under the bus” anyone who no longer amuses or pleases him,…

    it’s far too easy to see how he will,…

    if given the power to do so,…

    destroy his most ardent followers,…

    in seeking ever greater wealth for himself,…

    and seeking to remain the center of national attention,…

    by ever more outlandish stunts,…

    (farmers, those in manufacturing, those trying to figure out the Trump-caused market gyrations, for example).

    Everything Trump has ever touched has eventually turned to dust (or worse).

    The closer you are to him,…

    the more you admire his bull-ravaging-the-china-shop “style,”…

    the more likely you are to be destroyed.

    It was ever thus.

  5. Submitted by David Lundeen on 06/11/2019 - 08:55 am.

    This article, and every other one about the president’s lies, misses the mark. Even his supporters know he is a liar. Rather, what the media misses is the power play behind the lies. He lies because he can, and as long as there is no accountability, this is something which will continue. It really speaks to his Republican accomplices, and Democrats refusal to begin impeachment.

  6. Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 06/11/2019 - 09:45 am.

    Well, I went to the WaPo to look into it, and while Trump is clearly loose with facts, there seems to me a lot about his supposed “lies” that are about Trump stating something contrary to what the WaPo would like us to hear, as on NAFTA – the WaPo arguing that it was good for the American economy and Trump saying it wasn’t is not Trump lying, it is just Trump being inconvenient to the elitist neoliberals at the WaPo ok with selling out working people.

    I suspect if you broke down that list of “lies”, probably half of it is just the WaPo quibbling about what is the truth. Fact is, the WaPo has it’s own tenuous relationship with reality, espousing a lot of Truths on economics and war that are dubious at best, and outright propaganda at worst.

    For WaPo fans, Bezos is not a better person than William Randolph Hearst or Rupert Murdoch. In fact I would argue Bezos is a much worse person, with his obsessive control over retail economics and his getting in bed with the total surveillance/eternal war machine. His mockingbird paper does not really even try to hide how cozy they are with the CIA.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/11/2019 - 04:37 pm.

      When it comes to economics, either Trump is right or 99% of professional economists are right. I know which way I’d bet — the people who know how to do the numbers.
      The same is true for environmental issues.
      Scientific experts are occasionally wrong, but tht’s the way science works; it’s self correcting.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 06/12/2019 - 08:12 am.

        There is nothing at all “scientific” about WaPo methodology critiquing Trump. Nor is it an either or, Trump is right or 99% of economists are right. Trump is right that elite neoliberals with global trade policy stole from American working people to give to themselves. He is dead wrong if he thinks tax cuts for the people who did most of the stealing is going to be good for working people.

        99% of economists will tell you this ecocidal, debt-based, exploitative, polluting, exterminating of species, eternal warmongering, elitist racketeering economy is the ONLY way. They get paid the big bucks (compared to most working people), to justify pathology.

        So no, I am not betting on Trump or 99% of economists.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/12/2019 - 10:30 am.

          “99% of economists will tell you this ecocidal, debt-based, exploitative, polluting, exterminating of species, eternal warmongering, elitist racketeering economy is the ONLY way.”

          I must be reading a lot by only 1% of economists. Am I in an exclusive club, or what?

          • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 06/12/2019 - 03:22 pm.

            RB etc,

            I recommend the work of Herman Daly and Bob Costanza of the Society of Ecological Economists, as well as E.F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful, if you want a more wholistic view of what economics is/means.

            Most other economists act as if resources are infinite, growth can be infinite, pollution is just an unfortunate side effect of progress, nature is irrelevant, and on balance economics is Just and Rational ie increasing consolidation of wealth is generally good, working people are just numbers, and GDP is the only real measure of the health of the economy.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/13/2019 - 10:39 am.

              Those are some of the people I had in mind. You might be interested in checking out the Evonomics website. I recommend especially the writing of David Sloan Wilson, who connects evolutionary biology and economics.

              Professor Wilson’s father was the author of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, so critiques of capitalism run in the family.

            • Submitted by carter meland on 06/13/2019 - 12:14 pm.

              The intellectual historian David W. Noble, while not an economist, offers a thorough-going critique of contemporary economics/economists in his book, Debating the End of History. He develops this critique by asking the question of how can we “moderns” “believe that a finite earth is an environment in which infinite growth is possible?” Anyone interested in this type of thinking will gain from Noble’s broad contextual/historical discussion of this stuff.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 06/12/2019 - 07:55 pm.

          You might start with Piketty and Saez, then on to Paul Krugman, and proceed from there.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/13/2019 - 09:57 am.

      “NAFTA – the WaPo arguing that it was good for the American economy and Trump saying it wasn’t is not Trump lying, it is just Trump being inconvenient to the elitist neoliberals at the WaPo ok with selling out working people.”

      I generally agree with the critical view of neoliberal economics but I think your misconstruing WaPo’s analysis. What I’m seeing is an analysis that simply points out the fact that Trump’s policies are not producing the results he claimed they would, and he’s lying about it… he’s hurting the American’s he promised to save. We can argue about trade agreements and reminisce about the Battle in Seattle if we want, but that’s not really the issue. Whether you’re a neoliberal or not, Trump is a liar.

      • Submitted by William Hunter Duncan on 06/14/2019 - 08:25 am.

        Paul,

        Yes, Trump lies. I do not deny that. I am just pointing out, WaPo does not have yours or Mr Blacks or my best interest in mind, it is in bed with the CIA etc total eternal war machine, and it will defend the economic rights of Jeff Bezos etc billionaires/corporations/banks at the expense of the rest of us and the earth generally.

        I will give Trump credit, at least he is trying to change the focus from corporatist global trade that subjugates the sovereignty of nation states and citizens. You can make the argument that he wants to give that power to kleptocrats – however that does not justify supporting whatever WaPo says about him. In my world view Trump and Bezos are both monsters.

        Otherwise, thanks all for the info on writers on economics. Proof positive that there are a lot of people rethinking economics, which gives me hope.

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 06/15/2019 - 10:15 am.

          Wait hold it a minute right there.

          Don Trump may talk a good game about negotiating trade agreements more favorable to working class folks, but where the rubber meets the road, he lets the same corporate lawyers negotiate the same corporate friendly terms and screw working people till the cows come home.

  7. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 06/13/2019 - 08:29 am.

    And last night the man child tells us he will take intel from foreign governments in 2020 if offered (Russia, are you listening?). He does this simply because he is simply incapable of any sort of admission of wrong or even slight deviation from being an “extremely stable genius”.

    I’m not sure if this will cause any of the loyal Trump 35% to re-examine things; but, it sure should: we have this big disruptive mess, absorbing all our political energy and Trump says he would do it all over again even though, by most accounts, he did not benefit from the direct assistance, only the indirect Russian assistance.

    Again, a petulant man child, not to be told anything by anybody. And he is the leader of our nation…

  8. Submitted by davidsmith7287604@gmail.com on 06/29/2019 - 04:48 am.

    Fox News completed positioned No. 1 on Monday, driven by Hannity and Tucker Carlson. MSNBC completed in front of CNN, in both all out watchers and A25-54 during prime time and absolute day.

    The channel’s CEO, reliably names Trump in Tweet.
    “Trump’s progression of OANN hasn’t come at Fox News’ expense,”

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