The scale of the president’s mendacity

Linda Qiu takes a look at The Year in Trump Lies.

Here at The New York Times, we have also fact-checked countless campaign rallies, news conferences, interviews and Twitter posts. After nearly two years of assessing the accuracy of Mr. Trump’s statements, we can draw some conclusions not just about the scale of the president’s mendacity, but also about how he uses inaccurate claims to advance his agenda, criticize the news media and celebrate his achievements.

One, he repeats his lies instead of admitting they are lies.

Examples abound. He has falsely characterized the December 2017 tax cuts as the “largest” or the “biggest” in American history over 100 times (several others were larger). He has misleadingly said over 90 times that his promised wall along the southern border is being built (construction has not begunon any new section). He has falsely accused Democrats of supporting “open borders” over 60 times (Democratic lawmakers support border security, but not his border wall). And he has lobbed over 250 inaccurate attacks on the investigation into Russian election interference.

Two, he embellishes and amplifies his lies.

Take his repeated fabrication about the construction of new steel mills. After his administration announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in March, the president claimed in June that United States Steel was “opening six new plants.” A month later, the number rose to seven. He has also occasionally cited eight, possibly nine or a vague “many plants,” and he claimed once that plants were “opening up literally on a daily basis.” To date, United States Steel has yet to open or build one new plant, though the company has restarted idled components of some plants.

On the one hand, a plant every day; on the other hand, zero plants. That’s quite a gap.

Three, he adapts his claims as new evidence becomes public.

Four, he deploys the army of straw men.

The usual target of this particular strain of falsehoods is the news media, which Mr. Trump suggests purposely underestimates or misinterprets him.

Mr. Trump often lauds strong job growth under his watch and says that the “fake news” would have deemed such numbers “impossible” or “ridiculous” during the 2016 campaign. Yet he neglects to mention that the number of jobs added in the 22 months after his inauguration — 4.2 million — is lower than the 4.8 million jobs added in the 22 months before he took office, undermining the premise of his retrodiction.

Well he knows his fans aren’t going to look it up.

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