As usual, the busiest people at this week’s Republican National Convention are the Fact Checkers who have to wade into the tsunami of lies, exaggerated “facts” and false claims of the speakers who disregarded the truth as they attempted, but failed, to rewrite the corrupt and sordid first term of embattled president Donald Trump.
Reporters covering political leaders are used to over-blown claims and inflated assumptions, but the art of unending lies by Trump, his administration and his cult of followers has turned the Fact Checking industry into the one economic growth profession of his time in office.
Fact-checkers documented more than 10,000 false or misleading claims in his fist 827 days as president but it took only the next 440 days to double that total to over 20,000. He began 2020 averaging 12 lies a day. By July, his average increased to 23 a day.
The coronavirus pandemic has spawned a whole new genre of Trump’s falsehoods. The category in just a few months has reached nearly 1,000 claims, more than his tax claims combined. Trump’s false or misleading claims about the impeachment investigation — and the events surrounding it — contributed almost 1,200 entries to the database.
The notion that Trump would exceed 20,000 claims before he finished his term appeared ludicrous when The Fact Checker started this project during the president’s first 100 days in office. In that time, Trump averaged fewer than five claims a day, which would have added up to about 7,000 claims in a four-year presidential term. But the tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger.
Other Fact Checking Services agree. Checks, too, of claims by Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the Trump team have stepped up their levels of dishonesty in struggles to keep up.
Fact checkers found at least 19 falsehoods by Pence in his speech Wednesday night to close out Day 3 of the Republican National Convention.
All of this is false — and we fact check these lines so often from Trump, it seems like speech writing malpractice or an intentional effort to deceive for Pence to include them in a prime-time speech.
Pence claimed: “Where this president achieved energy independence for the United States, Joe Biden would abolish fossil fuels and fracking.”
The United States is not energy independent, as it continues to import millions of barrels of oil per day. “In 2019, the United States imported about 9.10 million barrels per day (MMb/d) of petroleum from nearly 90 countries,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.–The Washington Post
The Post is not alone. The New York Times reported:
Republicans used the third night of their national convention to craft a portrait of President Trump as a fierce supporter of social conservatives, the military and women, often using exaggeration and hype that papered over Mr. Trump’s personal history and policy record during the last four years.
A couple of examples:
In the wake of new violence in Wisconsin, Vice President Mike Pence gravely claimed that “you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America” as other speakers incorrectly asserted that Mr. Biden has said he would “defund the police.” He has not.
As they did during the first two days of the convention, the Republican speakers rarely mentioned the coronavirus pandemic, even though Mr. Pence has led the White House’s task force. When they did refer to the global crisis, the speakers largely downplayed the threat or misstated the government’s response, as one lawmaker did when he said the administration “authorized testing requests at blazing speed.” It did not.
Mark Twain once said: “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics.”
If Samuel Clemens (Twain’s real name) were alive today, he might say: “There are three lies: Lies, damn lies and anything Donald Trump or his minions say.”
The same Fact Checkers also analyzed the speeches and statements at the Democratic Convention last week. They found usual political exaggerations but not an onslaught of “outright lies.” One Fact Checker, who is a Republican, told me: “No one lies like Trump.”
George Orwell is reported to have said: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”