Some things never change. Donald Trump can’t tell the truth. It’s just not in his wheelhouse.
“His (Trump’s) track record has not improved. He’s still on our scale earning about 70% of mostly false, false, or pants on fire,” Angie Holan of PolitiFact said of President Trump’s continued record of inaccurate statements on CNN’s Reliable Sources.
Watch as Brian Stelter celebrates International Fact-checking day here:
— Reliable Sources (@ReliableSources) April 2, 2017
“…He (Trump) was by far the most inaccurate speaker on the campaign trail. Has he improved his credibility since taking office?” Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter asked.
Angie Holan of PolitiFact replied with what those who can stand to pay attention to President Trump on a daily basis already knew, “As far as what we choose to fact check, which are statements that grab our attention and sound wrong, his track record has not improved. He’s still on our scale earning about 70% of mostly false, false, or pants on fire.”
“The other thing I’ve noticed about President Trump is he will stick to his inaccurate talking points, he won’t drop them the way some of the more traditional and experienced politicians will if they get repeatedly fact-checked,” Holan elaborated.
“So does that mean fact-checking doesn’t work?” Stelter asked.
“I think fact-checking works from the point of view of citizens being informed,” Holan said, citing concerns about people’s ability to rely on what they’re reading. “Democracy doesn’t work without an informed electorate,” she said.
It’s not about informing the President; he’s a lost cause. It’s about informing the people.
What should be addressed at the same time as the fears about pro-Trump “fake news” coming from Macedonia is the reality that our collective loss of faith in what we are reading, our fears that we can’t trust what we hear or read, feeds right into the Russian agenda to undermine our democracy.
So while fact-checking is a must, critical thinking and discernment matter. For example, when news outlets report on an ongoing story, a developing story, there will be clarifications and corrections as more information is learned. That is not fake news. Fake news is also not a point of view. Fake news is an event that did not happen, like Trump’s belief in 3-5 million “illegals” costing him the popular vote.
Trump has not improved since he he landed at the bottom of a Politifact list during the primaries, with a sad 9% of true or mostly true statements. Just 9% of the things Donald Trump said during the primaries that were fact-checked were mostly related to the truth. Let that sink in for a bit, because fake news pushed by Russian bots gave Trump a huge assist as well.
It’s a fake, fake Trump world.
Trump then launched his general election campaign with no less than 21 fact-checked lies during his acceptance speech.
To call Trump the liar-in-chief would be accurate, but more importantly it’s not just that Trump lies. It’s the kind of lies he tells, and the fact that he seems unable to determine fact from fiction. Discernment isn’t a thing Trump has. Trump has fallen for every low-brow conspiracy offered by far right wing fringers like Alex Jones. Trump gets his “ideas” about things that actually never happened from fringe sources, and he hasn’t learned yet to question them.
Perhaps Trump can tell fact from fiction but doesn’t care so long as he’s feeding his ego and in order to feed his ego he must lie about reality. But I’m afraid Donald Trump really does believe that he saw thousands of Muslims cheering on 9/11 in New Jersey.
Trump has reached an alarming distance from reality and inability to be brought down to earth where it’s not clear that he has a grasp on reality at all.
Fact-checking is a thing, it matters. And while all politicians “lie”, they don’t lie like Donald Trump does. They don’t deny reality like Donald Trump does. They don’t use horribly inflammatory rhetoric to make wildly unfounded accusations with not even a nod to a supporting basis from a position of enormous power like Trump does.
All politicians spin. But not all politicians deny basic reality. And those who do do not belong in government.
Sure, Donald Trump doesn’t care that he’s been branded a liar by fact-checking organizations, but it matters. It matters to the majority of the country, who do not support Donald Trump’s presidency or his agenda.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.