WashPost Wrong to say Trump made 30k misleading statements
- The database the Post is citing to is filled with entries counted multiple times, it’s not a serious index of Trump’s statements
- Kessler’s cited Trump lies are not actually lies, he’s quoting them massively out of context
- Kessler and the Post are wrong about COVID and Voter Fraud, but count Trump as lying when he speaks the truth on those two important topics
OUR RATING: 1 = Journalistic Malpractice. Even Salon.com is ashamed.
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler wrote an article whose headline said it all: Trump made 30k “misleading” statements in his four year term. The implication is obvious: Trump was a serial pathological liar.
But the arrogance of the media in proclaiming many items as ‘false’ over the past four years always neglects the necessary humility of a media who has gotten so much wrong over the past year: Covington Catholic, COVID, George Floyd, Voter Fraud, among other high profile incidents.
- Superficial Investigation
- Opinion as Fact
- Irrelevant Nitpicking
The lead paragraph by Kessler reveals a substantial partisan bias from the start which really sets the tone for the entire piece:
Kessler: “He overstated the “carnage” he was inheriting, then later exaggerated his “massive” crowd and claimed, despite clear evidence to the contrary, that it had not rained during his address. He repeated the rain claim the next day, along with the fabricated notion that he held the “all-time record” for appearing on the cover of Time magazine.”
Most of these claims, and ‘fact checks’ are of claims that were or are rather spurious. In legal terms, they would be seen as ‘immaterial’ meaning rather pointless. In business, much of this would be described as ‘puffery’ such as businesses do in every ad. Of course politicians are going to say that their crowds are massive, of course they are going to see the sunshine instead of the rain. It seems silly to be employing ostensibly degreed ‘fact checkers’ to nitpick such irrelevant trivialities. Notice the needless ‘scare quotes’ around the word massive.
It took Kessler three paragraphs to really talk about anything of substance, such as when he claims
Which brings us to perhaps two of the most important topics from the Trump Presidency: COVID and Voter Fraud claims.
It does Kessler’s readers no service to quote ‘like a miracle’ out of context. It’s meant to show Trump as a fabulist rather than as a serious President. But if you compare to the President’s choppy quotes as reported by anti-Trump CNN , it gives it some more necessary missing context:
“It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” Trump said at the White House Thursday as the virus marched across Asia and Europe after US officials said the US should brace for severe disruption to everyday life.
The President also warned that things could “get worse before it gets better,” but he added it could “maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows.”
That quote, from CNN, while still partial, shows a Trump who is thinking out loud and expressing the hope that was very reasonable in February of 2020: that COVID will suddenly disappear. In fact, the media compared COVID most often to the 1918 Spanish Flu, whose pattern did, one day, magically disappear. 
The media during this period was making much of those comparisons and charts, telling Americans they needed to stay home in order to ‘flatten the curve’ and beat the pandemic by staying home. That verbiage has all been memory-hole’d in Orwellian fashion. Another point of comparison was to the Ebola epidemics in Africa, but once again Trump’s basic statement was essentially correct, and even very contagious viruses like Ebola have odd trends where it suddenly disappears like a miracle and the natural ‘reservoir’ of Ebola is unclear. 
Instead of clarifying these things for his readers, Kessler reduces these things to a soundbite, a simple meme for his generally liberal upper middle class readers to indulge in passing. He’s not trying to journalism, he’s a mouthpiece for his economic class’ preferred politics and political candidates. It’s a partisan hit. At its most charitable, Kessler is engaged in selective editing to achieve a very partisan soundbite to unfairly demonize a politician who enjoys no favor from his journalistic, political, or economic class colleagues.
And by dismissing allegations of voter fraud in passing, Kessler engages in some of the worst types of journalistic malpractice: unquestioningly accepting and validating the dominant media memes that have zero factual support. Those in the media engaged in such sophistry are religious zealots who refuse to treat any claim, allegation or evidence of voter fraud as anything other than neoliberal heresy. Kessler commands the mountains of voter fraud witnesses and evidence to disappear, and reliant on his superficial investigation, God wills it.
Kessler offers zero support for his claim debunking hundreds of eyewitnesses who swore out affidavits, 80+ court cases that were filed with very few having heard any evidence , open subpoenas demanding evidence be tendered in several states, among other evidence. It also ignores that when voter fraud court hearings have included evidence, Trump has substantially prevailed.
Kessler claims there was a “dramatic escalation in the rate of Trump’s dishonesty over time” because the Washington Post database has increased entries. Around the same time he complains about the burden of maintaining the database and briefly mentions that it was retired with Trump. So, if anything, the thing that’s clear is the the Washington Post engaged in ‘debunking’ Trump with poorly sourced articles like Kessler’s at a greater rate the closer to the election they were.
The link to the Washington Post Trump claim database is provided, you can peruse it.
The first highlighted ‘falsehood’ is the Washington Post taking this statement by President Trump:
“We also built the greatest economy in the history of the world…Powered by these policies, we built the greatest economy in the history of the world.”
And the Post is ‘debunking’ it by saying that there were periods of greater economic growth as measured by the economic metric of gross domestic product in prior periods.
Setting aside for a moment the issue that GDP can be measured in several different ways, the essence of Trump’s statement looks less like a specific claim about economic performance and much more like sales puffery. He’s not claiming title to the rate of growth, he’s talking about the power of the overall economy, to use a metaphor: he’s bragging about having the fastest racecar on the track.
And he’s right, the United States is the greatest economy in the history of the world. The actual, literal statement that Trump is making is completely correct. The Washington Post fell over itself looking for a way to disprove that claim by twisting Trump’s words and making it about something it was not about. This is perhaps due to deep-seated resentments by the Washington Post’s editors, but the level of misrepresentation and lying that it demonstrates to its readers is really stunning.
It shows that reasonable and rational interpretations of Trump’s comments are not considered, Kessler and the Washington Post just look for any way to ‘debunk’ a claim and then label it a lie. This is journalism without even the pretense of objectivity or sanity.
The most reasonable interpretation of Trump’s statement is that he is proud to be helming the greatest economy of all time, and proud that his actions have helped further grow that economy. That statement is entirely true, and the Washington Post is labelling it entirely false, and the Post is entirely wrong.
Journalist Mark Hemingway points out that the Washington Post arrives at this ridiculous number by counting the same statements by Trump multiple times and that most statements labelled as lies are more appropriately just differences of political opinions. 
There are many more things to consider and critique within Kessler’s write-up, but the pattern of dishonesty and lying as it relates to Trump and the corresponding dishonesty presented by Kessler when it comes to matters he clearly politically disfavors, brings into question not just his honesty and ability to control his prejudices, but his ability to be objective.
We have reached out to Glenn Kessler for comment and will update if he responds.
Glenn Kessler is clearly a hardened anti-Trump extremist publishing lies to serve his political agenda. That he holds himself out as a ‘fact checker’ is a stain on the legacy of the Washington Post.
OUR RATING: 1 = Journalistic Malpractice.
This research depends on the work done by Dr. John Droz out of North Carolina. Articles have oddly tried to malign him for having worked as a realtor 40 years past, even though he’s been engaged in science and data analysis for decades.
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