Donald Trump

Trump: The Art of the Lie

PolitiFact rates 76 percent of Trump's statements as lies


Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Donald Trump is a liar. He doesn't shade the truth; he mercilessly murders it in plain sight. As I have argued earlier, Trump has enthusiastically embraced and practices Adolf Hitler's notion of the Big Lie:

…the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.

Yes, Trump knows that even when he is proven a liar that his lies will continue to reverberate in the minds of the electorate. This what Boston University political scientist Emily Thorson calls "belief echoes." As Thorson explains:

The omnipresence of political misinformation in the today's media environment raises serious concerns about citizens' ability make fully informed decisions. In response to these concerns, the last few years have seen a renewed commitment to journalistic and institutional fact-checking. The assumption of these efforts is that successfully correcting misinformation will prevent it from affecting citizens' attitudes. However, through a series of experiments, I find that exposure to a piece of negative political information persists in shaping attitudes even after the information has been successfully discredited. A correction—even when it is fully believed—does not eliminate the effects of misinformation on attitudes. These lingering attitudinal effects, which I call "belief echoes," are created even when the misinformation is corrected immediately, arguably the gold standard of journalistic fact-checking. …

The existence of belief echoes provide an enormous incentive for politicians to strategically spread false information with the goal of shaping public opinion on key issues.

Strategically spread false information = lies. How much does Trump lie? Constantly and continuously. In his terrific "Lord of the Lies," column in todays' New York Times TImothy Egan totes up the statistics on Trump's lies. Read it and weep:

Professional truth-seekers have never seen anything like Trump, surely the most compulsive liar to seek high office. To date, the nonpartisan PolitiFact has rated 76 percent of his statements lies — 57 percent false or mostly false, and another 19 percent "Pants on Fire" fabrications. Only 2 percent — 2 percent! — of his assertions were rated true, and another 6 percent mostly true. Hillary Clinton, who is not exactly known for fealty to the facts, had a 28 percent total lie score, including a mere 1 percent Pants on Fire.

The Washington Post's Fact Checker has dinged Trump with 30 of its Four Pinocchio ratings — lying 70 percent of the time. Trump cares so little about the truth that when the Fact Checker reaches out to him for an explanation, he never responds, the paper noted.


See Reason TV's disturbingly insightful and prescient interview with Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams discussing Trump's skill with "Linguistic Kill Shots" below: