Since Donald Trump was sworn in as President, his statements have been closely monitored by the media for their “truthfulness.” Actually, it started during the Presidential campaign, when many reporters wrote stories about the alleged lies he told. But those statements became much more important to monitor and report on once he was President. Many people have been known to stretch the truth while running for office, but once you are an elected politician, you are scrutinized much more closely.
Has Trump been truthful? As of March 10, 2017, one reporter from the Toronto Star has collected over 100 false statements made by the President.
Photo Credit – Saul Loeb, AFP, Getty Images
It started the day after the Inauguration when Trump tried to boast about the size of the crowds that had come to watch him be sworn in (see my previous post “What’s in a Number”). While Trump claimed that a million and a half people had attended, independent reports noted it was closer to 250,000. While this claim may seem silly and inconsequential, it demonstrated that Trump did not intend to let facts get in the way of his messaging. Unfortunately for him, Kellyanne Conway’s attempt at explaining the numbers through her remark about “alternative facts” has stuck, and made the office a laughingstock to the media and the public.
Since the election, Trump has always been sensitive to claims that, while he won the Electoral College vote, he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. Trump claimed that was because up to 5 million “illegals” cast ballots. But when his own lawyers argued against a recount in Michigan, they said that there was no evidence of voter fraud in the presidential election. This is a much more disturbing lie than overstating numbers at a rally. Trump in effect tried to blame the loss of the popular vote on illegal immigrants, a claim he could not substantiate and has never been proven. It did, however, reveal his intent to blame, ostracize and belittle the immigrant community.
Prior to introducing the first version of his immigrant ban, Trump claimed that tens of thousands of refugees who had come to the U.S. had not been vetted and had no papers. In fact, those refugees were rigorously vetted. The process to be admitted into the U.S. includes background and security checks, and interviews with U.S. representatives. Once again, Trump not only made a statement that was easy to disprove, but he made it against a group of people who are unlikely or unable to defend themselves, people who have chosen to come to the U.S because their home country is experiencing war, turmoil or atrocities, situation we cannot even imagine. To pick on this group shows an incredible disrespect and distain for perhaps the most vulnerable group of citizens in the country.
But perhaps the biggest, most egregious and most alarming claim by Trump occurred on March 4 when he accused Barack Obama, via Twitter, of tapping his phones during the 2016 election. Since that day, Trump and his staff have been asked repeatedly to prove the allegation. The Department of Justice has been unable to find evidence to support the claim. The Foreign Service Surveillance Court, which would have been responsible for allowing such a wiretap, has brought forward no evidence that it did so. Days later, Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to calm the storm Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to calm the storm by claiming that Trump didn’t really mean wiretapping, but some other kind of surveillance. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway tried to suggest that the surveillance could have taken place through phones, television sets or microwaves.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
The claim remains unsubstantiated.
To make such an egregious accusation is not only offensive to the former President, it demonstrates that Donald Trump has no qualms about making outrageous statements, with no proof, and no intent to respond to government bodies seeking proof. He simply makes a proclamation and then leaves it on the public record, despite the negative ramifications it may have on other people.
Trump has also made false claims about the electoral college vote, the murder rate in various cities, the outcome of the Brexit vote, the number of people denied entry after the initial ban, the number of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. from Australia, which President allowed the release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, the complications of new health care legislation and the number of people attending a rally. In every case, these claims have been proven wrong, easily debunked by reporters who were able to provide evidence to contradict the claims.
It leads one to wonder – why would anyone make claims that could so easily be disproved? More importantly, why would a President, one who knows every word he says is being monitored, recorded and fact-checked? Is Trump a narcissist, too self-absorbed to care what others think? Is he unaware of what is going on in the country and in his administration? Does he not request, heed or pay attention to his briefings? Or does he feel that as President, he can say whatever he wants without consequence?
Whatever the reason, it is simply unacceptable for a President, in his first 100 days in office, to have made so many false claims, lied about opponents and accused others of saying or doing things that they did not say/do. We all have a responsibility to be truthful, accurate and respectful citizens. For a President, those expectations are even higher. At least, they always have been, until now.