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Trump's untruths pile up. Biden gets facts wrong too. Do voters care?

James Rainey, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

Former President Donald Trump was on another one of his screeds about how Democratic prosecutors were persecuting him, saying he’d been “investigated by the Democrats more than Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Al Capone combined.”

The crowd at a 2022 rally in North Carolina seemed to eat if up, having a hearty laugh when Trump concluded: “I think I’m perhaps the most honest human being that God ever created.” The crowd broke into applause.

As Trump campaigns to retake the White House, polls suggest Republicans have become increasingly willing to accept his pronouncements, even as a cottage industry of fact-checkers suggests reality lies elsewhere. That’s because his grievances and complaints about an America under siege feel true in the guts of a “vast segment of the population,” who therefore view Trump as a truth-teller, said Steve Schmidt, a longtime Republican political consultant.

“So Trump is two things at once,” said Schmidt, who writes a blog on national politics that portrays the 45th president as a demagogue and a threat to democracy. “He is simultaneously the most prolific liar in the history of American politics, and he is the most honest president we have ever had.”

Several major media outlets had created fact-checking teams before Trump rose to prominence. In 2016, The New York Times made what then was depicted as a momentous step when it called then-candidate Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama was not born in America “a lie.”

But once the former reality show host won the presidency, fact-check outfits went into overdrive.

 

The Washington Post counted 30,573 “false or misleading claims” by Trump during his presidency. Many were repeat offenses, such as the more than 800 claims about election fraud, which were roundly rejected in the courts. After its 1,000th fact-checking of Trump this year, PolitiFact reported he was entirely or mostly wrong more than three-quarters of the time.

“It’s not unusual for politicians of both parties to mislead, exaggerate or make stuff up,” reported PolitiFact, which did not let President (Joe) Biden off the hook — finding 41% of nearly 300 of his statements entirely or mostly wrong. “But American fact-checkers have never encountered a politician who shares Trump’s disregard for factual accuracy.”

Trump’s core supporters show no sign of being put off.

A case in point came this month, when Trump used a campaign event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to renew his long-running crusade against undocumented migrants.

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