Steve October 22, 2020
trump-is-averaging-more-than-50-false-or-misleading-claims-a-day

As Tweety McTreason entered the final stretch of the election season, he began making more than 50 false or misleading claims a day. It’s only gotten worse — so much so that the Fact Checker team cannot keep up.

Note the date. That was when he gave his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination. We’ve been able to update the database only to that point as of today — so already we are eight weeks behind. (We maintain this database mostly in our spare time, in addition to our day jobs.)

Just in the first 27 days of August, the president made 1,506 false or misleading claims, or 56 a day. Some days were extraordinary: 189 claims (a record) on Aug. 11, 147 claims on Aug. 17, 113 claims on Aug. 20. The previous one-day record was 138 claims — on Nov. 5, 2018, the day before the midterm elections.

The previous monthly record was 1,205 in October 2018.

In 2017, Trump’s first year as president, he averaged six claims a day. That jumped to 16 a day in 2018 and 22 in 2019. So far in 2020, the president has averaged 27 claims a day.

At his current pace, the president will surely exceed 25,000 claims before Election Day. In fact, he probably crossed that threshold this week.

But who knows when we will be able to confirm that.

Down in the polls, the president has amped up his rhetoric and often scheduled two or three rallies, interviews with friendly TV hosts and repeated press availabilities in a single day. That has left us swamped and exhausted as we plow through tens of thousands of presidential words a day.

The Fact Checker also tracks Three- or Four-Pinocchio claims that Trump has said at least 20 times, earning him a Bottomless Pinocchio. There are now nearly 50 entries, with many of the new items either false claims about the novel coronavirus or about Joe Biden’s campaign policies.

The coronavirus pandemic has spawned a whole new genre of Trump’s falsehoods. The category in just six months has reached nearly 1,400 claims, more than double all of his tax claims. Trump’s false or misleading claims about the impeachment investigation — and the events surrounding it — contributed almost 1,200 entries to the database.

So far during his presidency, Trump’s most repeated claim — 407 times — is that the U.S. economy today is the best in history. He began making this claim in June 2018, and it quickly became one of his favorites. He’s been forced to adapt for the tough economic times, and doing so has made it even more fantastic. Whereas he used to say it was the best economy in U.S. history, he now often recalls that he achieved “the best economy in the history of the world.”

That’s not true. The president once could brag about the state of the economy, but he ran into trouble when he made a play for the history books. By just about any important measure, the pre-coronavirus economy was not doing as well as it did under Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson or Bill Clinton — or Ulysses S. Grant. Moreover, the economy was already beginning to hit the head winds caused by Trump’s trade wars, with the manufacturing sector in an apparent recession.

Trump has repeated this “best economy” claim more than 150 times just since the coronavirus emerged in China and sent the economy into a tailspin, robbing Trump of what he had expected would be his top sales pitch for reelection.

Trump’s second-most-repeated claim — 262 times — is that his border wall is being built. Congress balked at funding the concrete barrier he envisioned, so the project evolved into the replacement of smaller, older barriers with steel bollard fencing. (Only a small portion of the barrier is on land that previously did not have a barrier.) The Washington Post has reported that the bollard fencing is easily breached, with smugglers sawing through it, despite Trump’s claims that it is impossible to get past. Nevertheless, the project has diverted billions in military and counternarcotics funding to become one of the largest infrastructure projects in U.S. history, seizing private land, cutting off wildlife corridors and disrupting Native American cultural sites.

Trump has falsely said 232 times that he passed the biggest tax cut in history. Even before his tax cut was crafted, he promised it would be the biggest in U.S. history — bigger than President Ronald Reagan’s in 1981. Reagan’s tax cut amounted to 2.9 percent of the gross domestic product, and none of the proposals under consideration came close to that level. Yet Trump persisted in this fiction even when the tax cut was eventually crafted to be the equivalent of 0.9 percent of GDP, making it the eighth-largest tax cut in 100 years. This continues to be an all-purpose applause line at the president’s rallies.

Trump’s penchant for repeating false claims is demonstrated by the fact that the Fact Checker database has recorded more than 500 instances in which he has repeated a variation of the same claim at least three times.

The award-winning database website, created by graphics reporter Leslie Shapiro, has an extremely fast search engine that will quickly locate suspect statements the president has made. We encourage readers to explore it in detail.

Readers may also be interested in our book that was published June 2 by Scribner: “Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth: The President’s Falsehoods, Misleading Claims and Flat-Out Lies.” We drew on the database to compile a guide to Trump’s most frequently used misstatements, biggest whoppers and most dangerous deceptions. We examine in detail how Trump misleads about himself and his foes, the economy, immigration, the Ukraine controversy, foreign policy, the coronavirus crisis and many other issues. The book is a national bestseller and earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, which called it “an extremely valuable chronicle.”

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