Inspired by Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims, The Washington Post Fact Checker introduced a new category of lie this week.
There has been no love lost between The Washington Post and Trump since the bigoted billionaire first announced his campaign back in 2015. However, that war seems to have peaked in recent months.
Take for instance an August 2018 tweet by Juliet Eilperin, a senior national affairs correspondent for The Washington Post who posted that, for the first time ever, Washington Post Fact Checker and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Kessler published an article stating that a politician deliberately lied.
— Juliet Eilperin (@eilperin) August 23, 2018
However, The Washington Post Fact Checker took things to a new level Monday morning with a surgical strike against Trump’s repeated falsehoods.
Round One: New Fact Checker Category Introduced
On Monday, The Washington Post Fact Checker took things to a new level with the announcement of a new classification for repeatedly telling the same falsehood.
Previously, the highest rating for falsehoods was “Four Pinocchios,” which was awarded for “Whoppers,” as per The Washington Post‘s “About the Fact Checker” page.
The new rating is called “Bottomless Pinocchio,” and has the following description:
In December, 2018, The Fact Checker introduced the Bottomless Pinocchio. The bar for the Bottomless Pinocchio is high: Claims must have received Three or Four Pinocchios from The Fact Checker, and they must have been repeated at least 20 times. Twenty is a sufficiently robust number that there can be no question the politician is aware that his or her facts are wrong.
The Washington Post introduced the new category in a scathing article published Monday morning. That article began by discussing the “86 times” Trump has lied “in the seven months before the midterm elections”about his “imaginary wall” between the United States and Mexico.”
Continuing, The Washington Post explained the motivation behind the creation of the new category:
Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact-checkers. Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging.
Not Trump. The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.
To accurately reflect this phenomenon, The Washington Post Fact Checker is introducing a new category — the Bottomless Pinocchio. That dubious distinction will be awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.
Round Two: “The False Claims Trump Keeps Repeating”
Not yet done with Trump today,The Washington Post has also created a new landing page for the Bottomless Pinocchio category, that for now provides a list of “The false claims that Trump keeps repeating.”
“Why is Trump the only one listed?” one might ask. The Washington Post explained that in their introduction. “The Fact Checker has not identified statements from any other current elected official who meets the standard other than Trump,” Wapo explained in their article introducing the new category. “In fact, 14 statements made by the president immediately qualify for the list.”
Returning to the landing page, one finds the full list of 14 statements by Trump – so are – that qualify for the list. Each entry includes the falsehood, the number of times Trump has made each claim, followed by a detailed explanation for each, to include a link to click for additional information.
At the top of the list one finds:”The Trump tax cut was the biggest in history,” with Wapo reporting that “Trump repeated some version of this claim 123 times,” followed by “Overstating the size of U.S. trade-deficits,” repeated “117 times.”
The remainder of the list includes:
- “The U.S. economy has never been stronger” 99 times
- “Inflating our NATO spending” – 87 times
- “The U.S. has started building the wall” – 86 times
- “The U.S. has the loosest immigration laws in the world — thanks to Democrats” – 52 times
- “Democrats colluded with Russia during the campaign” – 42 times
- “The border wall will stop drug trafficking” – 40 times
- “U.S. Steel is building many new plants” – 37 times
- “The U.S. has spent $6 trillion (or more) on Middle East wars” – 36 times
- “Thousands of MS-13 members have been removed from the country” – 33 times
- “McCain’s vote was the only thing that blocked repeal of the Affordable Care Act” – 30 times
- “Robert S. Mueller III is biased because of conflicts of interest” – 30 times
- “Inflating gains from a 2017 trip to Saudi Arabia” – 23 times