If your pants catch fire when you tell a lie, Donald Trump’s trousers must be a four-alarm blaze.
What’s worse, broadcasters and publishers are giving Trump an around the clock platform. American media as a whole has become an “all Trump all the time” showcase.
If there were a category for lie-telling in the Guinness Book of World Records, Trump would win hands-down.
Huffington Post reporters calculate that “Donald Trump made up stuff 71 times in an hour [interview on CNN] — and that’s counting the commercial breaks.”
Dana Liebelson and two other Huffington Post reporters write that “[We] assigned five and a half reporters to look into a roughly 12,000-word transcript of Trump’s town hall event on CNN [with Anderson Cooper]. It took us hours, but in all, we found 71 separate instances in which Trump made a claim that was inaccurate, misleading or deeply questionable. That’s basically one falsehood every 169 words (counting the words uttered by moderator Anderson Cooper), or 1.16 falsehoods every minute (the town hall lasted an hour, including commercial breaks).”
Among Trump’s whoppers were:
Lie: “We have no idea who [the Syrian refugees] are, we have no idea where is their paperwork. They have no paperwork; they have no identification.”
Truth: Syrian refugees are the most heavily vetted group coming to the U.S. The process takes a year and a half to two years.
Lie: “Lots of things happening in the mosques, that’s been proven.”
Truth: There have been no mosques connected to Islamic State attacks in the U.S. Mosque leaders are in fact experiencing death threats and vandalism.
What’s worse is that Trump continues to make the same false statements and is rarely challenged by newscasters.
Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s chief fact checker, writes that “… most politicians will drop a talking point if it gets labeled with Four Pinocchios by Fact Checker or ‘Pants on Fire’ by PolitiFact. But … Trump makes Four-Pinocchio statements over and over again, even though fact checkers have demonstrated them to be false.
“He appears to care little about the facts,” Kessler continues, “his staff does not even bother to respond to fact-checking inquiries.”
Among the falsehoods Trump regularly repeats are that Hillary Clinton started the “birther movement” and that “there are scores of recent migrants inside our borders charged with terrorism.”
And, of course, there is always Trump’s favorite lie, that he saw “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheering the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11.
The worst aspect of the Trump phenomena, according to Kessler, is that “television hosts rarely challenge [him] when he makes a claim that has been found to be false. For instance, Trump says he was against the 2003 invasion of Iraq … but he expressed support for the attack. He said the White House even sent a delegation to tell him to tone down his statements. That is also false.”
Kessler continues, “At least a dozen television hosts in the past two months allowed Trump to make these claims and failed to challenge him. There is no excuse for this.”
The media’s love affair with Trump helps explain his success. Publishers and broadcasters have learned that Trump’s outrageous lying attracts viewers like an automobile crash attracts gawkers. The more viewers and readers, the more opportunities for advertisers to sell their products. This translates to ca-ching for the media moguls.
It also means that instead of doing their job as seekers after truth, newscasters and reporters have become enablers of Donald Trump’s thirst for power for power’s sake.
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