The next time you hear Donald Trump refer to Sen. Ted Cruz as “lying Ted,” think about that old saying that when you point your finger at someone, you point three fingers back at yourself. That saying is a yuuuge understatement when it comes the multitude of outrageous misstatements, falsehoods, prevarications and outright lies the Donald has used in his attempt to obtain the Republican presidential nomination.
You don’t have to take my word for this, consider what the fact checkers have said about the Donald’s veracity.
PolitiFact designated the many campaign misstatements of Trump as the 2015 Lie of the Year. What a great designation to share with President Obama. PoliFact has rated 76 of 77 statements checked as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire:
No other politician has as many statements rated so far down on the dial.
In considering our annual Lie of the Year, we found our only real contenders were Trump’s — his various statements also led our Readers’ Poll. But it was hard to single one out from the others. So we have rolled them into one big trophy.
Fact Check.org called Trump “The ‘King of Whoppers,” when the Donald dominated FactCheck.org’s 2015 annual review of political falsehoods:
In the 12 years of FactCheck.org’s existence, we’ve never seen his match.
He stands out not only for the sheer number of his factually false claims, but also for his brazen refusals to admit error when proven wrong.
Fact Check.org says it does not conflate Trump’s controversial policy proposals with the many cases where he’s just wrong on the facts. The organization lists 12 of the Donald’s whoppers in the 2016 review:
- Trump claimed to have watched on television as “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey were “cheering” the fall of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Multiple news organizations and the New Jersey attorney general’s office searched for evidence of public celebrations at the time of 9/11 and found none. Trump, Carson on 9/11 ‘Celebrations,’ Nov. 24, 2015
- Trump boasted that he “predicted Osama bin Laden.” Nope. The book Trump published in 2000 mentioned bin Laden once, and predicted nothing about bin Laden’s future plans. Trump’s bin Laden ‘Prediction,’ Dec. 2, 2015
- Trump “heard” that Obama is “thinking about signing an executive order where he wants to take your guns away.” If so, he misheard. What Obama reportedly considered was requiring large-volume private gun dealers to conduct background checks, not confiscating firearms from those who own them. Trump ‘Hears’ Obama Wants to Take Guns, Oct. 22, 2015
- Trump said he “heard” the Obama administration plans to accept 200,000 Syrian refugees — even upping that wildly inaccurate number to 250,000 in another speech. Nope and nope. The number is about 10,000. Trump Gets Refugee Numbers Wrong, Oct. 4, 2015 and Facts about the Syrian Refugees, Nov. 23, 2015
- Trump said he got to know Putin “very well” while the two were on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” Nope. The two men were interviewed separately, in different countries thousands of miles apart. Trump vs. Fiorina: Who Knows Putin Best? Nov. 11, 2015
- Trump claimed his campaign is “100 percent” self-funded. Nope. At the time, more than 50 percent of his campaign’s funds had come from outside contributors. FactChecking the CNBC Debates, Oct. 29, 2015
- Trump said his tax plan is revenue neutral. Nope. The pro-business Tax Foundation estimated the Trump plan would reduce revenues to the Treasury by more than $10 trillion over 10 years, even assuming his plan would create economic growth. It does. Is Trump’s Tax Plan Revenue Neutral? Oct. 1, 2015
- Trump told the story of a 2-year old who got autism a week after the child got a vaccine. But there’s no evidence of such a link. The study that claimed to have found a link between vaccines and autism has been exposed as an “elaborate fraud.” It was retracted five years ago by the journal that published it, and the author was stripped of his license to practice medicine in Britain. FactChecking the CNN Republican Debate, Sept. 17, 2015
- Trump said Mexico doesn’t have a birthright citizenship policy. He used all of those terms. Trump on Birthright Citizenship, Aug.25, 2015
- Trump claimed credit for getting Ford Motor Co. to move a plant from Mexico to Ohio. Ford says that’s baloney; it made the decision years before Trump even announced his run for president. Trump’s Bogus Boast on Ford, Oct. 26, 2015
- Trump denied that he ever called female adversaries some of these things: “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” Trump’s Amnesia, Aug. 11, 2015
- Trump said in June “there are no jobs” to be had, when official statistics were showing 5.4 million job openings — the most in 15 years. Trump also claimed economic growth in the U.S. has “never” been below zero — until the third quarter of 2015. “Who ever heard of this?” he asked. Except it’s not unheard of. Economic growth has been below zero 42 times since 1946. Trump Tramples Facts, June 16, 2016
There are more, lots more. Fact Check.org’s complete and growing list, which currently contains 98 of the Donald’s whoppers is here.
Then there is the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, who has awarded the Donald 19 Four-Pinocchio ratings so far. That’s no small feat:
At last count, more than 60 percent (19 of 31) of our rulings of his statements turned out to be Four Pinocchios, our worst rating. By contrast, most politicians tend to earn Four Pinocchios 10 to 20 percent of the time. (Moreover, most of the remaining ratings for Trump are Three Pinocchios.)
Here are the Donald’s 19 Four Pinocchio’s.
- Donald Trump’s false comments connecting Mexican immigrants and crime: Donald Trump repeatedly defended his claim that the Mexican government is sending criminals and rapists to the United States. But a range of studies shows there is no evidence immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans. Moreover, the vast majority of unauthorized immigrants in prison do not belong in the category that fit Trump’s description: aggravated felons, whose crimes include murder, drug trafficking or illegal trafficking of firearms.
- Trump’s bogus claim that he never said ‘some of the things’ claimed by Megyn Kelly: Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Donald Trump a pointed question about his verbal treatment of women. On the Sunday shows, Trump refused to apologize — and further asserted that Kelly lists things he did not say. But there is ample evidence for each of the slurs against women uttered or tweeted by Trump. He had a small point that he attacks once he is provoked, but there is little doubt that the over-the-top language cited by Kelly was correct.
- Trump’s zombie claim that Obama spent $4 million to conceal school and passport records: Trump, one of the most high-profile “birthers” during the 2012 presidential campaign, resurfaced this zombie claim that President Obama spent $4 million in legal fees to conceal records that would indicate his true citizenship. There is no proof that Obama spent $4 million in legal fees (personally or through his campaign) to keep his school application or passport application records away from the public. Federal campaign finance records show from 2008 through 2012, the Obama for America campaign paid more than $4 million in legal services to Perkins Coie, the law firm that defended the campaign in some of the eligibility lawsuits. But campaigns have in-house and outside counsel to vet a wide range of issues, not just those related to lawsuits.
- Trump’s absurd claim that the ‘real’ unemployment rate is 42 percent: Trump’s made a ridiculous leap in logic to come up with his claim that the “real” unemployment rate was 42 percent — at a time when the official rate was 5.3 percent. He took an estimate for the number of people not working — 93 million — and assumed they were all unemployed. But the vast majority of those people do not want to work. Most are retired or simply not interested in working, such as stay-at-home parents. Even a President Trump would be unable to make much of a dent in this supposed 42-percent unemployment rate, given that most of the Americans he is counting as “unemployed” are not in the labor force by choice.
- Trump’s tax plan and his claim that ‘it’s going to cost me a fortune’: Trump pitched his tax plan as being tough on the wealthy, saying “it’s going to cost me a fortune.” Trump has not released his tax forms — though he claims he made $604 million in 2014. In going through the details of his plan, it appears clear that it would significantly reduce his taxes — and the taxes of his heirs. This was later confirmed by an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
- Trump’s repeated claim that Obama is accepting 200,000 Syrian refugees: Like a broken record, businessman Donald J. Trump keeps repeating a statistic with little basis in fact — that the Obama administration wants to accept 200,000 refugees from Syria. It appears to be based on a misunderstanding — the Obama administration says it planned to admit 185,000 refugees over two years from all countries. For Syria, Obama has only directed the United States to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year. Ironically, that’s a number that Trump indicated was fine.
- Trump’s baseless claim that the Bush White House tried to ‘silence’ his Iraq War opposition in 2003: Trump brags that he had the vision and foresight to oppose the Iraq War ahead of the invasion in 2003. He says his opposition was so vocal, and his reach so great, that the White House approached him and asked him to tone it down. There is scant media coverage of his supposed opposition ahead of the Iraq War. (We later compiled a complete timeline of Trump’s comments in 2002 and 2003 about the Iraq invasion, which showed he was not vocal about his opposition prior to the invasion, and they didn’t make headlines.) Trump ignored our request for the names of White House officials he supposedly met with, so we checked with former senior White House officials. None of the dozen people we contacted directly or through former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer could recall a meeting with Trump, concerns about his opposition, or even Trump’s views being on their radar prior to 2004.
- Repeat after me: Obama is not admitting 100,000, 200,000 or 250,000 Syrian refugees: Trump had previously earned Four Pinocchios for falsely claiming President Obama was planning to admit 200,000 refugees from war-torn Syria. (The real number is 10,000; a total of 180,000 refugees from around the world will be admitted in 2016 and 2017.) Undeterred, Trump upped the number to 250,000.
- Trump’s outrageous claim that ‘thousands’ of New Jersey Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks: GOP presidential hopeful Trump falsely and repeatedly asserted that he saw TV clips of “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. Despite an army of fact checks, including ours, and repeated debunking, Trump continued to assert he was correct, even though he could produce no evidence except a handful of news stories that made brief mentions of alleged celebrations — which never could be confirmed. He earned Four Pinocchios. Ben Carson, another GOP aspirant, briefly said he, too, had seen such a video. But to his credit, he withdrew the statement after realizing it was of Palestinians in Gaza, not New Jersey.
- Trump’s false claim that the 9/11 hijackers’ wives ‘knew exactly what was going to happen’: In the wake of the shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., involving a Muslim couple, Trump has emerged with the claim that the 9/11 hijackers sent their wives home before the attacks — and those wives knew “exactly what was going to happen.” But there is no support for Trump’s claims, as the exhaustive 9/11 Commission report states that virtually all of the hijackers were unmarried. The report includes a number of references to the hijackers cutting off communication with their families: “The other operatives had broken off regular contact with their families. …The majority of these Saudi recruits began to break with their families in late 1999 and early 2000. …[The ringleader] complained that some of the hijackers wanted to contact their families to say goodbye, something he had forbidden.”
- Trump’s claim that he ‘predicted Osama bin Laden’: In various speeches and interviews, Trump has claimed that two years before the 9/11 attacks, he warned that Osama bin Laden was a threat — going to “do damage” to the United States — and even predicted the rise of terrorism. This claim rests on some vague references in a book he published in 2000. The references have little relationship to how Trump portrays them now — and he ignores the fact that well before 9/11, experts, news organizations and even bin Laden himself said he planned to attack the United States.
- Trump’s claim that the unemployment rate is 23 percent: After falsely asserting the “real” unemployment rate was 42 percent, Trump suddenly tossed out a new estimate of “22 to 23 percent.” But this was also wrong. His figure is still more than double the most expansive rate published by the U.S. government, which at the time was 9.9 percent. That means there are about 35 million “unemployed” who Trump has not accounted for — and as usual the Trump campaign refused to explain how he came up with his estimate. Trump’s dubious claim that his border wall would cost $8 billion: After Trump put a price tag on the wall he wants to build on the 2,000-mile border with Mexico — $8 billion — we investigated whether this figure was in the realm of possibility. We concluded it was not — and after the fact check appeared, Trump increased the projected cost to $12 billion. That’s still too low. A reasonable estimate is $25 billion.
- Trump’s truly absurd claim he would save $300 billion a year on prescription drugs: Trump said that he would allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies, thus saving $300 billion a year. This made little sense, given that the prescription drug portion of the Medicare program costs only $78 billion a year. Total annual spending on prescription drugs in the United States is between $298 and $423 billion, which suggests Trump thinks he can eliminate virtually any cost to prescription drugs. Once again, we are confronted with a nonsense figure from the mouth of Donald Trump.
- Trump’s false claim he built his empire with a ‘small loan’ from his father: Trump often says he started his business empire with just a $1 million loan from his father. But that is simply not credible. He appears to have inherited about $40 million. He also benefited from numerous loans and loan guarantees, as well as his father’s connections, to make the move into Manhattan. His father set up lucrative trusts to provide steady income. When Trump became overextended in the casino business, his father bailed him out with a shady casino-chip loan — and Trump also borrowed $9 million against his future inheritance. While Trump asserts “it has not been easy for me,” he glosses over the fact that his father paved the way for his success — and that his father bailed him out when he got into trouble.
- Trump’s false claim that John Kasich ‘helped’ Lehman Brothers ‘destroy the world economy’: Trump blamed Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the collapse of the investment banking firm and helping start a global financial crisis, but it was a preposterous claim. Kasich was one of about 700 managing directors at Lehman Brothers and largely played a facilitator role, using his experience in government regulations and contacts in various sectors. He gave strategic financial advice to other companies and generated business by using his contacts in various sectors — not making risky mortgage investments. Kasich’s former boss at Lehman equated this attack by Trump to blaming a pilot for the failure of Trump Airlines.
- Trump’s trade rhetoric, stuck in a time warp: We examined a series of Trump statements on trade, manufacturing and currency manipulation, in essence fact checking the economic world that he depicts in his speeches — a world in which the United States never wins at trade and is flooded by imports because China and Japan keep their currencies low, a world in which high tariffs would bring manufacturing back to Michigan and other states. We concluded that Trump appears to have little understanding of the economic reality of today’s interconnected world.
- Trump’s smear of Time magazine as the source for his ‘facts’: In a contentious interview with a conservative radio host, Trump was quizzed on claims he made about Wisconsin at a time when Gov. Scott Walker (R) was still a presidential contender, in particular the false claim that under Walker the state had gone from a $1 billion surplus to a $2.2 billion deficit. Trump refused to apologize, saying the blame should be placed on Time Magazine; he claimed he was simply quoting the magazine. But we could find little evidence for Trump’s claim. While Time at one point has mentioned a $2 billion budget “shortfall,” that was different than Trump’s phrasing. Moreover, the budget issue had already been resolved two weeks before Trump started making the claim—and he didn’t change it even after being called out by fact checkers.
- Trump’s nonsensical claim he can eliminate $19 trillion in debt in eight years: In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump asserted he could eliminate the nation’s $19 trillion in debt in just eight years, apparently through renegotiating trade deals. Using federal budget data, we demonstrated why Trump’s pledge is mathematically impossible. First, he has to eliminate the deficit that is adding to the debt year after year. (That is projected to add another $7 trillion in debt by 2024.) Even if Trump eliminated every government function and shut down every Cabinet agency, he’d still be $16 trillion short. Unfortunately, we only had Four Pinocchios to give for this whopper.
- A trio of truthful attack ads about Trump University: This is in effect a reverse Four-Pinocchio rating, as we presented a rare Geppetto Checkmark to three ads attacking Trump’s involvement with Trump University. We concluded that Trump University appears to have been a classic bait-and-switch operation, designed to lure people into paying increasing sums of money. We also examined Trump’s false claim that Trump University received an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau, when in fact its rating was D- before it started winding down. The BBB even felt compelled to dispute Trump after he made this claim again during a debate.
Then there are Lying Don’s Three Pinocchios:
- Trump’s misleading claims about Common Core and education trendsDonald
- Trump’s misleading claim that he’s ‘won most of’ lawsuits over Trump University
- Donald Trump attacks Ted Cruz by repeating false claims about illegal immigration
- What GOP candidates got wrong — and right — about Common Core
- Trump’s misleading claims about Common Core and education trends
- Trump repeats inaccurate figure that ‘over 300,000 veterans died waiting for care’
What happened to that Trump guy who was going to be a straight-talker and tell it like it is? Instead he just makes stuff up. In his book The Art of the Deal, Trump writes:
You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.
[. . .]
People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.
Trump has gone way beyond his “truthful hyperbole” and exaggeration. The Donald is flat out lying. There is no other way to look at. So keep this article handy. Next time you hear him trying to disparage Sen. Cruz think about all of Lying Don’s prevarications and sigh.