And so it went, day after day, week after week, declare after declare, from probably the most mundane of matters to probably the most urgent points.
Over time, Trump unleashed his falsehoods with rising frequency and ferocity, typically by the scores in a single marketing campaign speech or tweetstorm. What started as a relative trickle of misrepresentations, together with 10 on his first day and 5 on the second, constructed right into a torrent by means of Trump’s remaining days as he frenetically unfold wild theories that the coronavirus pandemic would disappear “like a miracle” and that the presidential election had been stolen — the declare that impressed Trump supporters to assault Congress on Jan. 6 and prompted his second impeachment.
The remaining tally of Trump’s presidency: 30,573 false or misleading claims — with almost half coming in his remaining yr.
For greater than 10 years, The Fact Checker has assessed the accuracy of claims made by politicians in each events, and that apply will proceed. But Trump, with his unusually flagrant disregard for info, posed a brand new problem, as so a lot of his claims didn’t advantage full-fledged reality checks. What began as a weekly function — “What Trump got wrong on Twitter this week” — was a project for Trump’s first 100 days. Then, in response to reader requests, the Trump database was maintained for 4 years, regardless of the rising burden of retaining it up.
The database turned an untruth tracker for the ages, extensively cited all over the world as a measuring stick of Trump’s presidency — and as of midday Wednesday it was formally retired.
Whether such a tracker can be essential for future presidents is unclear. Nonetheless, the affect of Trump’s rhetoric could reverberate for years.
“As a result of Trump’s constant lying through the presidential megaphone, more Americans are skeptical of genuine facts than ever before,” presidential historian Michael Beschloss mentioned.
An evaluation of the Fact Checker database reveals the dramatic escalation within the charge of Trump’s dishonesty over time. Trump averaged about six claims a day in his first yr as president, 16 claims day in his second yr, 22 claims day in his third yr — and 39 claims a day in his remaining yr. Put one other method, it took him 27 months to achieve 10,000 claims and one other 14 months to achieve 20,000. He then exceeded the 30,000 mark lower than 5 months later.
Trump made false claims about nearly the whole lot, huge and small, so the Fact Checker database offers a window into his obsessions (and the information cycle) on the time. When he felt beneath siege or in bother, he responded by attempting to craft an alternate actuality for his supporters — and to viciously assault his foes. Nearly half of the false claims had been communicated at his marketing campaign rallies or through his now-suspended Twitter account.
Claims about immigration spiked simply earlier than the 2018 midterm elections, as Trump unsuccessfully tried to maintain the House of Representatives in GOP arms with exaggerated claims about “caravans” of undocumented immigrants approaching the border. Then in late 2019 he responded to the uproar over a telephone name through which he urged Ukraine’s president to announce an investigation of former vp Joe Biden with greater than 1,000 false and misleading claims on the problem in simply 4 months.
False and misleading claims concerning the coronavirus pandemic emerged in 2020, in order that by yr’s finish he had made greater than 2,500 cornavirus-related claims — greater than all of his commerce claims over 4 years, regardless that commerce has been one of many animating options of his presidency. Trump touted phony metrics to say he efficiently defeated the virus, pitched ineffective “cures” and consistently attacked former president Barack Obama for alleged failures, akin to leaving a “bare cupboard” of ventilators (there were almost 17,000) and bungling the response to the swine flu pandemic in 2009-2010 (the response was considered a success).
In October, Trump was largely quiet for six days as he recovered from his personal bout with covid-19. But even so, he made almost 4,000 false or misleading claims that month, a mean of 150 a day on the times he was not in poor health.
In speech after speech, he laid the groundwork for difficult the election, making baseless claims of potential election fraud, whereas attacking Biden as a psychological incompetent — and a “grimy, sleazy and corrupt career politician” — who couldn’t probably emerge because the victor.
“It’s going to be a fraud,” Trump advised Sean Hannity of Fox News a month earlier than voters went to the polls. “This is a terrible thing that’s happening to our country.”
After his election defeat, Trump spoke or tweeted about little besides to supply lies a couple of stolen election, at the same time as he or his supporters misplaced greater than 60 courtroom circumstances as judges repeatedly rejected his claims as bogus. After Nov. 3, he made greater than 800 false or misleading claims about election fraud, together with 76 instances providing some variation of “rigged election.”
At his Jan. 6 speech on the Ellipse, through which he incited the assault on the Capitol, Trump made 107 false or misleading claims, nearly all concerning the election.
The aftermath of what Biden and different Democrats now name the “big lie” hovers over Washington as each events determine whether or not there generally is a return to a shared set of info undergirding nationwide debate, or whether or not one of many main political events will stay captive to the types of conspiracy theories that marked so a lot of Trump’s remaining yr of claims.
The occasions of Trump’s remaining weeks demonstrated the extent to which his alternate actuality turned woven into the material of the Republican Party, with nearly all of GOP lawmakers voting in opposition to certifying Biden’s victory even after the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
One hallmark of Trump’s fibs was his willingness to consistently repeat the identical claims, regardless of how typically they’d been debunked. One-fifth of his almost 2,500 claims concerning the economic system was the identical falsehood — that he was responsible for creating the greatest economy in U.S. history. After the coronavirus outbreak tanked the economic system, he amped up the rhetoric to say he had created the best economic system in world historical past. Neither declare is true; beneath nearly each metric, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton had extra strong economies during their presidencies. Even earlier than the pandemic, Trump’s economic system was already faltering due to his commerce wars, with the manufacturing sector in a technical recession.
Nearly 300 instances Trump falsely mentioned that he passed the biggest tax cut in history. Even earlier than his tax reduce was crafted, he promised that it could be the largest in U.S. historical past — greater than President Ronald Reagan’s in 1981. Reagan’s tax reduce amounted to 2.9 p.c of the gross home product, and not one of the proposals into consideration got here near that stage. Yet Trump continued on this fiction even when the tax reduce was ultimately crafted to be the equal of 0.9 p.c of the gross home product, making it the eighth-largest tax reduce in 100 years.
Trump’s penchant for repeating false claims is demonstrated by the truth that the Fact Checker database has recorded about 750 cases through which he has repeated a variation of the identical declare at the least thrice.
The Fact Checker additionally tracked Three- or Four-Pinocchio claims that Trump has mentioned at the least 20 instances, incomes him a Bottomless Pinocchio. Trump accomplished his time period with 56 of these entries, together with three — concerning the “rigged election,” allegations that Dominion voting machines modified votes and the falsehood that GOP ballot watchers had been denied entry to vote-counting — that solely emerged within the remaining months of his presidency.
The Bottomless Pinocchio listing offers a tough approximation of the kinds of main falsehoods Trump mentioned during his presidency. Roughly 25 p.c exaggerated about his accomplishments, and 15 p.c misled about his insurance policies. Another 15 p.c dissembled concerning the Russia investigation or the probe into the Ukraine telephone name. Roughly 10 p.c every had been fibs made out of entire material, assaults on individuals he thought of foes, falsehoods concerning the coronavirus, phony claims concerning the election, or false statements about Biden and his proposals.
As the 2020 election neared, Trump almost 50 instances falsely reassured his supporters that Mexico was footing the $15 billion invoice for his barrier alongside the southern border. U.S. taxpayers are paying, largely through cash Trump diverted from approved army development tasks. This was maybe Trump’s most well-known marketing campaign promise — during the 2016 marketing campaign, he mentioned greater than 200 instances that Mexico would pay for the wall — so he merely pretended he had fulfilled it in an effort to reassure his base that he had succeeded.
Many repeated claims simply barely missed the cutoff for a Bottomless Pinocchio, such because the declare that he repealed a provision of the U.S. tax code that prohibits spiritual organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. (All he did was situation a toothless govt order, however he clearly thought it was so essential to evangelical teams that he falsely claimed he achieved one among their key political aims.)
Trump not often abandons his falsehoods, in order he neared the top of his presidency his marketing campaign rallies turned longer and longer. Each speech had a well-recognized sample. He would cycle by means of numerous grievances about the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the impeachment over his Ukraine call. He trashed Obama, numerous Democrats and in fact Biden. He falsely extolled his achievements in commerce, international coverage, the economic system and immigration. He supplied false assurances concerning the pandemic and warned darkly about fraud within the upcoming election.
The progress of falsehoods over the course of Trump’s presidency is illustrated by one outstanding statistic.
The Fact Checker staff recorded 492 suspect claims in Trump’s first 100 days. Just on Nov. 2, the day earlier than the 2020 election, Trump made 503 false or misleading claims as he barnstormed throughout the nation in a determined effort to avoid wasting his presidency.
The database web site has a search engine that can rapidly find suspect statements made by Trump. Readers can even isolate claims by time interval, topic or venue.
Maintaining the database over 4 years required detailed examination of each Trump speech, information convention, press gaggle, marketing campaign rally and interview, in addition to greater than 25,000 tweets. The reality checks of Trump’s statements within the database quantity to about 5 million phrases.
The database contains any assertion that may advantage two or extra Pinocchios beneath The Fact Checker’s rating scale. Trump typically would repeat the identical falsehood two or extra instances in a speech however just one occasion of a declare per venue could be counted. The database didn’t embody Facebook posts as a result of they had been typically duplicative of tweets and probably staff-generated. The tally additionally usually didn’t rely retweets, apart from retweets of false or misleading movies.
The reality checks within the Trump database had been written by a staff that additionally included Salvador Rizzo, Meg Kelly and Michelle Ye Hee Lee. Graphics reporter Leslie Shapiro created the database web site.