Donald Trump is the first to tell you that he is exceptional. He’s the biggest, the best, the only, the most successful, a “stable genius” with a “very, very large brain,” at least in his own estimation. He’s even boasted that he’s “actually kept more promises” than he’s made, defying the laws of logic in ways that mere mortals couldn’t possibly comprehend.
Now, President Trump has earned a distinction that truly puts him in a category of his own. The fact checkers at The Washinton Post have found him to be such an exceptionally prolific and repeated liar that they were forced to expand their rating system for evaluating false and misleading claims to create a special category specifically inspired by the president.
Normally The Post rates politicians on a scale of one to four Pinocchios, using the following criteria to determine in which category to place a statement, as listed on their website
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“Some shading of the facts. Selective telling of the truth. Some omissions and exaggerations, but no outright falsehoods. (You could view this as “mostly true.”)”
“Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people. (Similar to “half true.”)”
“Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions. This gets into the realm of “mostly false.” But it could include statements which are technically correct (such as based on official government data) but are so taken out of context as to be very misleading. The line between Two and Three can be bit fuzzy and we do not award half-Pinocchios. So we strive to explain the factors that tipped us toward a Three.”
While this system seems like it should cover pretty much every instance of mendacity that a politician could devise, The Washington Post fact-checkers seem to feel that President Trump’s extraordinary alienation from the truth and his extreme dedication to spouting the same lies over and over again despite the ease with which anyone could easily disprove the veracity of his phony claims.
They explained the thinking behind their decision with this explanation:
“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,” according to the newspaper.
“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,” they continued.
In order to set these type of repeated, maliciously-intended falsehoods into a category of their own, The Post fact-checkers were forced to invent a new category in their rating system — the Bottomless Pinocchio. This mark of shame will be awarded to “politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.”
It is not a rating that is handed out gratuitously since there is a specific set of criteria that must be met in order to be placed in this highest — or perhaps, we should say lowest — ranking of perfidy.
“The 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.”
Not surprisingly, the Post confirmed President Trump’s exceptionality by pointing out that the only elected official currently in office who has earned the Bottomless Pinocchio is Trump himself, and he has done so with 14 separate lies that immediately qualify him for the shameful rating.
The list of those repeated falsehoods reads like the back cover of a “Trump’s Greatest Fibs” album, with the tracks arranged in order of popularity.
- The Trump tax cut was the biggest in history. (Repeated 123 times.)
Overstating the size of U.S. trade deficits. (Repeated 117 times.)
The U.S. economy has never been stronger. (Repeated 99 times.)
Inflating our NATO spending. (Repeated 87 times.)
The U.S. has started building the wall. (Repeated 86 times.)
The U.S. has the loosest immigration laws in the world — thanks to Democrats. (Repeated 52 times.)
Democrats colluded with Russia during the campaign. (Repeated 42 times.)
The border wall will stop drug trafficking. (Repeated 40 times.)
U.S. Steel is building many new plants. (Repeated 37 times.)
The U.S. has spent $6 trillion (or more) on Middle East wars. (Repeated 36 times.)
Thousands of MS-13 members have been removed from the country. (Repeated 33 times.)
McCain’s vote was the only thing that blocked repeal of the Affordable Care Act. (Repeated 30 times.)
Robert S. Mueller III is biased because of conflicts of interest. (Repeated 30 times.)
Inflating gains from a 2017 trip to Saudi Arabia. (Repeated 23 times.)
It’s an impressive list except for the fact that all these false claims mislead those among the American populace who are gullible enough to take the president at his worthless word.
Yes, Trump is exceptional. Unfortunately, he’s exceptional in ways that no normal, moral human being would want to be singled out for. One can only hope that when he’s finally held accountable for these lies and the ones that will inevitably turn up on Volume 2 of “Trump’s Greatest Fibs,” that his prison sentence will be equally exceptional.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.