As the 2018 midterm election nears, President Donald Trump is disseminating false and misleading statements at a pace that leaves even his own past prevarications in the dust.
In the month of October, Trump said 1,104 things that were totally or partially untrue – more than double his next most prodigious month (September), according to the tireless cataloging by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog.
Trump is averaging – AVERAGING – 30 false or misleading claims a day in the last seven weeks. And, per the Fact Checker, he often of late soars far above that average. As one example: On October 22, when he traveled to Houston to hold a rally for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), Trump, said 83 untrue things in a single day. 83!
The scope of Trump’s falsehoods is literally breathtaking. In the 649 days between his inauguration and October 30, Trump has made 6,420 claims that are partially or entirely false. That includes a number of assertions – that the Russia probe being overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller is a hoax, that the Trump tax cut was the biggest in history – that Trump has repeated ad infinitum. He’s said the Russia investigation is a hoax or a witch hunt 157 times and claimed his was the biggest tax cut ever 120 times, according to the Fact-Checker.)
(Sidebar: Many people ask why I don’t simply refer to Trump’s falsehoods as lies. Two reasons in this case: 1) The Post tabulates false or misleading claims and so, when quoting their numbers, I prefer to use their wording for accuracy and 2) As I’ve explained before, I think we can, and should, call out a lie when we either know or have a reasonable expectation that Trump is aware that something he’s saying is false.)
The sheer number of Trump’s deceptions pushes back on his claim to ABC News’ Jon Karl that “I do try … and I always want to tell the truth.” The record suggests otherwise.
Facts are, for Trump, fungible things. When they fit his narrative, he is happy to tout them. But they rarely fit his narrative. And when they don’t, he has zero concern about creating his own narrative that simply doesn’t have any real resemblance to the established truth.
In fact, as the Fact Checker’s numbers make clear, Trump seems to flaunt his fact-less claims – assuring his supporters that he is telling the “real” truth that the media won’t let them in on. Trump has turned that tendency toward untruthfulness into a political strategy; he is so politically incorrect that he doesn’t even abide by the rules of fact and truth that the so-called “elites” think he should.
It’s truly stunning – and frightening – stuff. What’s more terrifying to me is that Trump’s supporters don’t seem to know – or care – about any of this. They regard fact checks by the media as simply the “fake news” doing everything they can to slow down Trump’s momentum. And to the extent they acknowledge that Trump doesn’t tell the truth a lot of the time, they write it off as either a) him just talking or b) that all politicians lie. (Most politicians do say untrue things from time to time. When called on them, however, they stop saying the false things. Trump is not like that.)
Trump also works aggressively to ensure that his base sees him as the only honest man in the country, the only person who is really telling it like it is.
“Stick with us,” he told a VFW crowd in Kansas City back in July. “Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
Here’s the thing, though: It is happening. Facts are not a partisan position. And here’s one fact no one should forget: Donald Trump is misleading – and outright lying at times – at a pace that we have never seen before in politics. Never.