President Donald Trump said during a meeting with NATO’s secretary general Tuesday that his father was “born in a very wonderful place in Germany.”
Fred Trump was born in the Bronx. His father – Trump’s grandfather – was born in Germany.
Happy International Fact-Checking Day! Trump has made 9,451 false or misleading claims in his first 802 days in office!
That’s according to the invaluable Washington Post Fact Checker which, from the start of Trump’s presidency, has cataloged the mountain of his mistruths.
It’s not new news that the President exaggerates, distorts and outright lies on the regular. This is a feature, not a bug, of not only his presidency but his life. What is news is that, again according to the Fact Checker, the pace at which Trump makes false and misleading claims has rapidly quickened over the past six months or so. Here’s the key bit:
“That’s a pace of 22 fishy claims a day over the past 200 days, a steep climb from the average of nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in Trump’s first year in office.”
Think about that. The President of the United States is AVERAGING 22 false/misleading claims a day for the last 200 days. And that is a rate four times as high as his pace of prevarication in 2017, his first year in office.
Even more concerning is the fact that the place Trump tells the most fibs is at 2020 campaign rallies. The Fact Checker counted 64 – SIXTY-FOUR – false or misleading claims by Trump at a single rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, last week. (I went through the transcript of that speech; it was a humdinger.)
So, let’s go through what we know:
1) Trump bends – and breaks – the truth more than any other president. Ever.
2) The longer he is president, the more active his penchant for not telling the truth has become.
3) He is at his least truthful during campaign rallies aimed at his 2020 re-election race.
It seems pretty clear based on those three facts that Trump isn’t going to adhere more closely to objective facts and capital “T” truth between now and November 2020. In fact, it seems like a near-certainty that he will lean even further into his creation of a separate reality in which he and his supporters can happily live – facts be damned. And that move will convince his backers that the media is even more fake and even less dependable. Which will further isolate them from the rest of the country (and the world) and further deepening (and worsening) our political divides.
This, to me, will be Trump’s lasting legacy, whether or not he wins a second term in 2020: the active undermining of the idea of truth and facts – and the media as a generally neutral arbiter. In a 2018 Gallup poll, more than six in 10 people said that the “news they read in newspapers, see on television or hear on the radio is biased.” And then there’s this from the Gallup survey: “Of 17 major newspapers, network or cable news stations, or internet news sites evaluated in the survey, Republicans see all but two – Fox News and The Wall Street Journal – as biased.”
That is not by accident. That is the result of a prolonged campaign – led by Trump but not initiated by him – to discredit the media and offer “alternative facts” in the place of plain old facts. (To be clear: The media is not without blame here. We make mistakes. But we correct the mistakes we make and own up to them.) And that lack of trust in not just the media but the broader disagreements about whether objective facts even exist is the sort of thing that threatens the very pillars on which our democracy is built.
If we can’t agree on facts, how can we have a conversation about what the facts tell us about the past, present and future of our country? Answer: We can’t.